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I have said this before but I believe Paris to be the most feminine city in the world.

My French friends tell me that is because Paris not only respects women, it honours them. It unabashedly elevates them for their accomplishments, their sacrifice, their humanity, and their beauty.  And yes, I love that all women are considered beautiful in Paris, no matter whether they are young, old or somewhere in between.



This is  a billboard on a Paris street. Germaine Tillion was a member of the French resistance.

She spent time in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.


The allure of the French woman has always been a little mysterious and difficult to define.

They are certainly revered for their sense of style, and the way they project it in that understated sort of way. Neither underdressing or overdressing.

They have signature items that scream “I am French!” of course, such as a perfectly knotted scarf, the expensive handbag, the iconic white shirt, but how is it that they can put together almost anything and still look chic?



(Someone also please tell me where to get that shirt, a French one that fits snugly in all the right places? Would I even look good in one?)

But even more than all of this – French women seem to ooze a natural self confidence. Because everywhere I look I see women who command attention and respect, and walk and talk with authority.



Paris is also a place where I see rows of women sitting alone in cafes and restaurants.  They slowly nurse their coffees or aperitifs in the most unhurried way,  some even enjoying a multiple course meal all by themselves.

They seem neither self-conscious, nor particularly interested in the world around them. And they can sit for hours at a time as if in some sort of blissful self-absorbed state of being.



Maybe I am stretching the point, but are French women just innately comfortable in their own skin, and oblivious that it took a lifetime for so many of us to get there? Speaking mostly about myself of course!


Love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Eileen on February 10, 2019 at 10:31 am

    From what I’ve read in books, the French women seem raised differently than in the U.S. To be a woman is ok, to be unique is ok, to be intellectual is ok, girls and boys go places and hang out together, that’s ok. My mother was from Denmark, she commented a lot about the differences she noticed. She would say, Americans don’t have the years of history, to shape them, and don’t live closely to other different countries. I was raised “ European”, and have not felt strange being by myself, eating or otherwise. She also said when you live in a small apartment, your entertaining was done in a cafe or restaurant, not in your home, so having a coffee, by yourself could be just a moment of quiet?

    • Diana Bishop on February 10, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Eileen, This is just the feedback I was looking for. I never thought about the small apartment thing. It would explain why cafe culture is so big in Europe as well wouldn’t it? Very Interesting!

  2. Dorothy Berry on February 10, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Yes, I agree… comfortable in their own skins.
    Let me know if you find a source for the white shirt… I have been looking for one for some time.
    I travel alot and never mind being in an eatery or cafe by myself. Sometimes meet the most interesting servers or other patrons that are by themselves. People watching is also a great past time.

    • Diana Bishop on February 16, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      Will do Dorothy!

  3. Sandra Lyons on June 1, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Great article. I grew up in Montreal, a French Canadian city with European culture. What you’re describing is typical of the culture in Montreal as well. As for looking for a great white shirt, I’d suggest the store Anne Fontaine. You can purchase online or can find her clothes on consignment websites such as The Real Real.

    • Diana Bishop on June 1, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      Sandra — how wonderful that you found my blog! And thank you for your comment. I will definitely look for Anne Fontaine. And please share more comments. I love getting a real French women’s perspective.
      PS I love Montreal. Spent 8 years in Quebec as a journalist at CBC/Radio Canada. Diana

  4. Sandra Lyons on June 1, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Diana – thanks for your lovely message. How interesting that you spent 8 years in Quebec (City?) as a journalist for CBC/Radio Canada. I moved to Toronto 4 years ago to retire but am busier than ever.
    And have also discovered lots of French expats living here, which is great. Sandra

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