While I was in Paris, I was on a quest to see what was so different about French girls versus us girls in North America? For example, why are they absurdly thin when they eat mille feuille? Why do we all want to dress like them and look like them?
Well, first of all, the skinny French girl who eats cream and butter in everything and doesn't get fat is a myth now. The obesity problem that plagues us in North America has crossed the ocean to Europe and beyond so most of the natives that you will see usually eat the same thing that you do. So I had to look harder at the thinner French girls and their habits. I did notice a few things which I found interesting and this was of all French girls of various shapes and sizes.
- They drink water: I didn't see one French lady with a Coke, only tourists.
- No snacking: I didn't see a French woman buy something for a snack nor did I see one eating one. I saw them eating their meals but nothing else.
- Portion control: the meals that they did eat where smaller than the typical meal in North America. If they couldn't eat it all, they didn't stuff it down either. They just didn't eat it.
- They don't eat that rich food every day: we assume that they do because it is France. Well, they don't. Treats like crème brûlée and other delicious pastries are a weekly treat and they are not huge portions either. The size of a crème brûlée in France compared to one in North America is much smaller. The same is true of croissants and almost everything else -- notably mille feuilles.
- They don't eat fast: I'm serious--I eat slow. In France, my plate was gone before half of theirs was. They seemed to eat less than me too. They are not part of the "clean plate" club either, that is, finishing every morsel that was on the plate. If they can't eat it all, then they don't.
- They eat real food: there was no processed food here. I am serious, there were no aisles of Mr. Noodles, Sidekicks and Kraft Dinner. I did see frozen French fries but I don't count that. Everywhere we went, there was fresh veggies, fruit and meat. There was some candy and pop in the grocery store but only the tourists bought it. The ladies were going around with baguettes, cheese, ham and lettuce. No preservatives, no nothing -- just the real food.
- They walk to get to where they are going: unless they need to take the RER (metro) if it is too far, then they walk. They think nothing of walking around for awhile. They walk along the Seine and sit and relax for awhile. They walk to the market for a coffee, even if it is out of the way -- why not? Also, if they were not walking, they are biking. Or running. We saw lots of them getting a morning workout while we walked to the Louvre.
- They are not on time: we North Americans seem to be very precise with our timing: if we say 9am, you need to be there at 8:45am and everyone understands that. No, not here. We find it frustrating but the French take their time, not your time.
- They wear scarves before adding a coat or a sweater: why get out the heavy, puffy coat if the weather is 5 degrees colder? You'd be surprised how warm you are just by wrapping a pretty scarf around your neck.
- They wear classics: the girls that I saw were wearing simple v-necks or sweaters (usually in two layers), jeans or pants and the scarf mentioned above. For coats, it was trench coats or pea coats. They were not covered in logos, patterns or screen-printed t-shirts. There was one patterned item (the scarf for example) which matched everything else they were wearing. They wear a lot of black knee-length boots too.
- They are relaxed: if you haven't noticed by now, I've mentioned how they eat slow and walk everywhere. I saw ladies taking a stroll next to the Seine too - not just running it but also walking casually without a care in the world. I didn't see one stressed out French woman during my trips -- cashiers and tour guides included.
- They drink wine: in addition to water, they drink wine. Good wine too and it's so cheap in France. They took their time while they drank it with friends.
- They don't take photos of every little thing: us tourists, we were snapping away while they perused and looked around. They took the pictures that mattered and perhaps that is better. They spent more time enjoying what they were seeing then stressing about photographs. What, you think the only people at museums in Paris were tourists?
- They do something in the evening: and that something usually requires walking or biking there. I don't think that they sit in front of the TV for hours on end.
- They don't all wear French perfume -- or perfume at all: we assume that if the perfume is made in France, they must all wear it. Well, they don't. That doesn't mean that they smell bad but they smell like clean soap -- not overpowering. I stood behind enough of them to notice.
- If you are in their way, they will tell you: oh yes, if you step out of line, you will know it. Some of them swear at you, some are polite and say pardon as they pass you. Some let loose a tirade as they pass you.