Paris – Harriet Welty Rochefort talk

4 Mar

Harriet Welty Rochefort talked to us about her books with a focus on the topic “Joie de Vivre”, a French phrase meaning “the joy of living” and also the title of her latest book.

Harriet Welty Rochefort is an author, speaker, freelance journalist, former professor of journalism at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and longtime resident of France, living there since 1971 and is a bilingual binational..  “A French-American dual citizen, Harriet lives with husband Philippe in the trendy east of Paris in a garden apartment with a tiny lawn just big enough to mow and a fig tree that has miraculously defied both Paris weather and pollution.”  She writes light-hearted, but very informative, books about French culture for English readers.  You can check out her blog or her Understand France webpage.

Rochefort breaks Joie de Vivre into eight basic parts:

  1. Romance french style
    -PDA and kissing
    -Importance of vague
    -Importance of private
    -What’s sexy? (Quirks; too perfect is not attractive)
  2. “Les petits plaisirs”
    -Small is good
    -Petit details
    -Petit coup de rouge, un petit noir (Small cup of red wine, small black coffee)
    -La petite robe noire (the little black dress)
  3. Savoir-vivre: life as an art form
    -Art is aesthetics
    -Art of lightness
    -Art of playing with truth
    -Rules are made to be broken
    -Nonpursuit of happiness
  4. Having fun while you disagree
    -Consensus is boring
    -Americans view it as yelling at one another, French view it as a fun activity with a little louder of a voice
    -Don’t be freightened; they’re simply having fun
    -Art of disagreeing without getting personal
  5. Hanging out without feeling guilty
    -Work AND lunch
    -Organizing all those paid vacations
    -Second homes
    -3 reasons: 1)Benefit from national healthcare; 2)College education virtually free (about $300 a year); 3)Retirement and pensions paid by those working
    Note: It’s a trade-off; have lower wages and higher taxes
  6. Dressing, acting, and pouting like a Parisienne
    -Comfort vs Glamour
    -Black dress (spice it up with broaches, scarves, jewelry)
    -Color me Parisienne
    -Parisienne Dragon Lady
  7. Being a Frenchwoman
    -At ease with their femininity
    -Look at me! (Always dress like their on display)
    -Don’t talk about diets (why feel guilty for eating a small piece of your favorite chocolate?)
    -The <<Older Woman>>
    -Children AND work; not children OR work (Good work-life balance with a lot of national emphasis on family)
  8. Wining and dining



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