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Friday, September 6, 2013

Gourmand preferences of two French ladies that exude style

     The French are the epitome of chic.  In fact, one could argue that they are the ones that are solely responsible for the creation of all things pleasurable in life.  You don’t think so?  Let’s run by some of them: gourmet cuisine, world’s most distinguished fashion houses, beauté (which ranges from perfume to cosmetics), philosophy, bistros and sidewalk cafés, and general joie de vivre.

     French women in particular have always interested me.  Far and wide, they are the only ones that seem to have it all under control – beauty, fitness, looking gorgeous, eating like queens yet staying slim, managing children, an active sex life, a career, housekeeping… the list goes on.  Throughout my life, I have always wanted to emulate that feeling of total control I see in French women.  The main reason is because I find that being in control of everything I do in my life gives me peace of mind.  I have found, satisfying our own and our loved ones’ needs is what life is really all about.

     While not affirming that French women are always in full control of their particular situations (no one can do that, not even the French), they personify the one culture that most closely comes to this ideal.  

     Short of moving to France - at least for now - a very interesting incursion was to Anne Baronne’s book “Chic & Slim Toujours” (  

Ready for work in a simple
suit and statement jewelry
Turquoise is a colour not usually
 worn by Christine Lagarde, yet
with proper foulard, she looks

     Apparently, Ms. Baronne used to be fat and frumpy in her 20’s, but then she discovered la vie en rose de les Français and set out to a discipline of general life improvement.  This particular book is written for women in their 60’s and older; and although I am in my early 40’s, I can only hope that if I am lucky enough to reach that age, I do so in my fittest possible way, looking and feeling great, and embracing life with gusto.

     There are two French women mentioned in this book that have caught my attention:  IMF Director and ex-Minister of Finance Christine Lagarde, and France ex-Minister of Justice, Muslim Rachida Dati.  These are both beautiful, stylish, powerful women who do not compromise and yet are able to leave their own mark of distinction in their path.  I have watched Christine Lagarde on television a few times, but the one that most strikes my memory was during an interview with Fareed Zakaria on his program GPS for CNN, when she was still France’s Finance Minister.  She does not colour her hair, yet her gray locks are always perfectly coiffed in a short bobby fringe.  She has a minimalist style, which I find I am favouring as well as I age, always dressed in high quality smart suits in neutral colours.  She wears her wrinkles with ease and pride, and looks great and fit.

     A closer look at her personal life, I found she is a consummate swimmer, rarely drinks wine nowadays (although she's no teetotaler by any means), and favours vegetarian cuisine.

Leather trousers and stilettos
for France's chic Justice Minister

© 2010 The Guardian
The chicest woman in France

Regal look for a soireé
     Rachida Dati has a more shaken story.  The daughter of impoverish Algerian immigrants, she has had some slips (especially of the tongue, confusing fellatio with inflation on national television, oops!), but as a woman of style I find really no other like her within the public personalities of France in these day and age, not even Carla Bruni (with whom she is said to have had a few high-strung encounters).  Ms. Dati looks the classic French modern woman.  Her strong personality comes through even in photographs.  She is not only beautiful but looks sexy, and in her mid-forties is my favourite French chic lady to emulate.  She runs 1 1/2 hours several times a week to keep fit and enjoys champagne, caviar and jellewery.  Certainly a girl's best friends.  

     I can imagine her on Sundays, for instance, relaxing at home with several French newspapers, breakfasting on a Bellini, some exotic fruits, a croissant and a strong cup of coffee.  But Rachida Dati is a hard-working, modern French woman, and during the week, even at intervals, nothing would preclude her from indulging in a nice kir while hard at work.

     For your own version of a kir, just pour 3/4 glass of white burgundy wine and add 1 1/2 Tbsp. of crème de cassis liqueur.  Mix and garnish with a lemon twist.  Voilá a typical French cocktail for any time "just because", and even if, like me, you are hard at work.

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