Paris in July

Monday, July 27, 2015

Paris in July, what a sweet city to think about this month! I’m late to the party, hosted by Thyme for Tea, but have a quick book review and also a few thoughts on the city itself.

My experience with Paris began with books and films. It’s a romantic city, one that constantly pops up in literature. From the earliest books I read, like Madeline, to adult memoirs like A Moveable Feast, I’ve always loved seeing the city through other people’s eyes. Amelie, Moulin Rouge, Before Sunset, and Paris Je T’aime are a few of my favorite movies.

The first time I got to visit the city was something I’ll never forget. I was with a dear friend backpacking through Italy and France my junior year in college. Paris was the last stay in our trip and one that we’d both looked forward to. We saw all the big things, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, but it was in the quieter moments that Paris stole my heart.

We sat outside Shakespeare and Company waiting for the bookstore to open. When it finally did, I wandered through the precarious stacks carefully selecting a few treasures to take home with me. We bought gelato on Île de la Cité while listening to a little jazz band play on a bridge. We hiked up the stairs of Sacre Couer for a breathtaking view of the city. Those are the moments that made Paris come alive for me.

It will always be a magical city that appears in movies, but it became something real and deeper on that trip. It’s not my favorite city I’ve visited, but it’s one I would return to again in a heartbeat.

Bringing Up Bébé 
One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
by Pamela Druckerman

I was curious about the buzz this one received and since I’m pregnant, it seemed to be the perfect time to check it out. I went into it assuming that Druckerman’s argument would be that everything French is better. I was prepared to take that with a grain of salt and move on. Instead I discovered that, although she was living in Paris, she wasn’t a huge fan of France or the French. That being said, she was in awe of French parenting and the seemingly effortless success they had raising their children.

Druckerman approaches the whole subject as a journalist, not as a mother desperate to figure out what works. I appreciated her factual approach. She included anecdotes about her own experiences, but relied more heavily on what she learned from other French mothers. I thought it was fascinating to learn what cultural differences are ingrained in French and American parents, respectively.

There is plenty that I know wouldn’t work with my particular style. The sheer pressure put on women to look perfect as quickly as possible after giving birth is a bit overwhelming, but there were plenty of other things to learn from. I loved seeing how the day cares in France, called a crèche, work. Where American day cares have a negative stigma attached, crèches are the opposite.

BOTTOM LINE: Interesting and informative. There are a few parenting styles that I hope I’ll keep in mind as I attempt to find what works best for my family. I particularly liked the French approach to encouraging your kids to eat a wide variety of food and sleeping through the night as early as possible. 

Photo by me. 


Meg @ write meg! said...

I recently decided that my husband and I will take a trip to London and Paris for our fifth wedding anniversary -- still three years away! -- and I can't wait. Paris feels so magical to me in literature and films, and I love your descriptions here!

Sounds like an interesting read, too... I always enjoy stories that delve into differences between American culture and others. So interesting to see life from different perspectives.

thecuecard said...

Nice Paris post! What were a few big differences between the French parenting she talks about and American parenting? hmm.

Amy said...

I loved this book! I tend to like parenting books anyway, but because this one was set in Paris and a memoir, it was even more fascinating.

Also, I gave your blog a little shoutout a few days ago, and I wanted to make sure you had a chance to see it: Thanks for all the inspiration!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Meg - That is sooo exciting! You guys will have an amazing trip. We did New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji for our 5th anniversary and it was such a wonderful adventure to share.

thecuecard - Some of the major ones are in the attitude of how we treat our children. Americans tend to do a lot more hand-holding and encouragement, but we also expect our kids to master a dozen "activities" (sports, musical lessons, different languages) at a young age. The French tend to let their kids be kids and just play when they are young. But they also don't feel like they have to constantly interact with their kids every moment of the day. Obviously these are generalities, but it's interesting to see the different mentalities.

Amy - It was much more fun than most parenting books! Thank you so much for the shout out as well!

Julie @ Smiling Shelves said...

I've been to Paris twice, but somehow never made it to Shakespeare & Company. How is that possible?? That will be #1 on my list if I ever make it back to Paris. Seeing the city from the steps of Sacre Coeur is one of my favorite memories, too. Bringing Up Bebe sounds most interesting. I'll have to check that one out!

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare and Company is a unique place in Paris... a tourist attraction. I'd enjoyed my time there when I visited a few years back. And thanks for sharing the book Bringing Up Bébé. It's always interesting to know different cultural perspectives on parenting methods. ;)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Julie - There are so many things I would like to see in Paris that I missed the first two times too!

rippleeffects - I think I'd like to hang out at Shakespeare & Co even if I lived there!