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7 Little French Things That Make Life Better

Story by Tory Hoen, HiP Paris Correspondent

The plight of the Francophile is that, more often than not, he or she doesn’t live in France. In fact, it’s quite possible that he or she has never even been to France, or at least, not with any frequency. But because separation makes the heart grow fonder (and sometimes downright obsessive), we must come up with coping mechanisms to keep the French dream alive, no matter where we are.

If I were super-motivated, I’d be hosting regular French film soirées and presiding over a French lit-themed book club, but alas, that all sounds much too Type-A. For now, I will indulge in the little things that help me feel closer to the country where I really belong (and where I would be, if there were any justice in this world).

1. Tarragon Mustard. Maille whips up a delightful version, but I am partial to the Edmond Fallot variety, which I slather on whatever happens to be lying around.

2. Roger & Gallet products. Their Tilleul (Linden Blossom) moisturizing cream changed my life, and I will forever associate its scent with my cozy little studio on rue Mouffetard. Abroad, you can find these products in department stores and boutiques that carry high-end bath products.

3. Fleur de Sel de Guérande. Keeping a container of this fancy sea salt in the kitchen ups the ante of just about any dish, and will inevitably impress your foodie friends. Sassy food blogger David Lebovitz explains why this salt is all it’s cracked up to be.

Photo by Linda Donahue

4.Diptyque candles. Yes, they’re $60 a pop in the United States, but they last for ages and manage to exude that understated elegance that you find in chic Parisian homes. The woodsy Baies scent (roses and black currant leaves) makes me want to hop the next plane to Paris (or just buy myself some housewarming gifts).

5. Crème de Cassis. It’s somewhat grandmotherly of me, but when in Paris, I get a kick out of perching at a zinc bar and ordering up a kir (white wine with a splash of cassis). At home, I recreate the magic by keeping a bottle of the blackcurrant-flavored liqueur on hand. It’s the best way to liven up the cheap white wines I am (for budgetary reasons) forced to drink in the States. France, how I miss you!

6. Caudalie. French women swear by this brand, whose natural products are infused with antioxidants derived from wine and grapes. Yum. Their “Soin des Levres” lip balm got me through multiple Parisian winters.

7. Flowers. The French did not invent flowers, but unsurprisingly, they use them to great effect. My living spaces tend to be fairly bare-bones, but introducing an overflowing vase of white peonies always adds the illusion of elegance (and an illusion is the best I can do for now).

What about you, readers? What do you do to feel more “French” when you’re elsewhere in the world?

Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris. Top photos: Fleur de Sel Foodfreak.de / Diptyque Candles Frankincensy.

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2 Responses to “7 Little French Things That Make Life Better”

  1. Linda says:

    After spending 5 weeks in Paris this fall, I brought a few things home with me as a reminder: fleur de sel to add to homemade chicken soup as well as a jar of herbes de provences; the choice of tv in english was sparse so I watched a lot of NRJ music videos and created a CD of the songs I heard over and over again; I had purchased a candle from “au nom de la rose” and was amazed at the scent it put out – unfortunately I forgot my candle in Paris and they don’t deliver internationally but I’m going to keep checking their website to see if they will eventually.

  2. Sweet Freak says:

    I will add to the list: honey; chocolate boxes, wrapped only the way the French do; Ruinart. Amen!

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