French 5 | 08.20.21

Welcome to the 23rd edition of French 5, where I share a glimpse of France through language, places, food and drink, arts and culture, as well as a random fun fact.


In this week’s edition, American Francophile Jeannine shares what spurred her love of France and how you can bring a hint of French into your everyday life. 


A big thank you to Jeannine for participating in this interview and for sharing her lovely photos. If you have any feedback or ideas of what you’d like to see or who should be featured, please leave your comment below.


Featuring || Jeannine of @jeanninebergeron

Bonjour I'm Jeannine - an American with an avid interest in art, design, décor, travel, and all things French. I am based in Chicago.


My love of France began in seventh grade when my homeroom teacher mistook me for an exchange student because of my name. She taught French and encouraged me to learn the language. Eventually, I lived, worked, and studied in France – first doing a semester abroad, then teaching international business communications at the University of Lille, and later studying fine and decorative French art history at Christie’s in Paris. 


When I returned to my hometown of Chicago, I sought ways to incorporate a French lifestyle into my daily routine. In 2008, I launched French Style  – a blog about the culture and lifestyles of France, how to make the most of your travels, and how to bring everyday France into your everyday life - no matter where you live.


01 Language || L’art de vivre

L’art de vivre is a uniquely French expression that touches every aspect of life, ranging from gastronomy and the arts to leisure time, literature, and conversation. It’s an appreciation of the finer things and a conscientious effort to bring them into your life. It’s what gives your experiences color, texture, depth, value, and joy – whether you’re sharing a glass of wine with friends, reading a good book, treating yourself to fresh flowers, or seeing the latest exhibition at your local museum.


02 Place || Passy

It’s a charming neighborhood in the 16th arrondissement, nestled between the Eiffel Tower and the Bois de Boulogne. For more than 15 years, I’ve rented a darling little apartment in Passy, and it has become my home away from home. This is the Paris of Parisians, complete with a beautiful market, ivy-hung courtyards, and narrow streets named after artists, writers, and musicians. Passy’s most famous residents include Benjamin Franklin, Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet, Claude Debussy, and Honoré de Balzac.


03 Food & Drink || Poulet Rôti

I don’t believe any culture does roast chicken better than the French. It’s tender, moist, and simply delicious. I would add, if you ever see Poulet de Bresse Roti on the menu, order it. Bresse has been famous for chickens since the 1600s when the Duc de Savoie offered the most plump roosters from Bresse to King Henri IV, who praised them highly. 


04 Arts & Culture || Henri iV

Get to know Henri IV through a book, a documentary, or a film. 


Henri IV is by far my favorite French king and, in my view, most responsible for the tradition of artistry and luxury that has become emblematic of France. 


Henri IV, King of Navarre, ascended to the throne in 1589, during one of the most tumultuous periods in French history. For nearly 30 years, Catholics and Protestants had been at war, massacring each other, wreaking havoc on the countryside, and making everyone miserable and poor. Henri IV introduced a robust economic recovery program. He reorganized the country’s finances. Taxes were reduced on the peasantry and a debt moratorium alleviated pressure on the nobility. He initiated an infrastructure program to build roads, bridges and irrigation systems – including the Pont Neuf, the Hôtel-de-Ville, the Places des Vosges, and the Palais and Jardin du Luxembourg. He restored the Louvre and completed the Tuileries Garden. Across the country agriculture, manufacturing, and commerce were encouraged. He promoted the arts. He sought to improve the quality of life for every French citizen. In fact, speaking of Poulet Roti, Henri is quotes as saying, “Je veux que chaque laboureur de mon royaume puisse mettre la poule au pot le dimanche” to represent a quality of life he wanted for his people. 


He was a courageous and innovative leader who united the country and established the foundation for the manufacture of so many of the luxury products the world has come to appreciate as the standard for quality and refinement. 


05 Fun Fact || Framing things in the negative

The French sometimes frame things in the negative, which may explain the “French” attitude. 


For example:

  • Rather than simply say that it is cold, the French will say “il ne fait pas chaud.” 
  • When you are asked “Comment ça va?”, The answer is never in the positive, it’s usually in the negative: “Pas mal.”
  • Rather than ask you if you would like to go out to have a drink, they will ask “Vous ne voulez pas prendre un verre?”
  • Even in the Bible, rather than “Do unto others as you would have them doing to you” the French write “Ne faites pas aux autres ce que vous ne voulez qu’on vous fasse”.

Follow Friday || Leonce of @leoncechenal

I would like to suggest Leonce Chenal for Friday Five. Leonce is Parisian. Her site is a destination for French fashion, interiors, and lifestyle. Her insights are authentic and accurate – she is truly one of my favorite bloggers.


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To read all previous editions, visit our French 5 webpage


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