Thank you to my sister in law Leann for the great book- "entre nous" I loved it! It talks about why French women seem to have that yes, I'm going to say it, certain "je ne sais quoi" It's a cliche but so very true. What make a French woman, or the French people in general, so...unique? Well, in a historical context she/they are raised with values that were shaped by thousands of years of experience, way older than our measly 232 years. We are learning to be civilized, let's hope we get there soon. To be fair, after visiting with my husbands relatives who live in the Alps region of France, there are a lot of rules and customs that shape their ideals and philosophy, a certain, strictness and regimented mentality that allow things to run smoothly and a practicality that seems to contradict their love of sensuality. Perhaps it is their ability collectively to balance those two things- latin love of pleasure and rigid respect of culture and rules that makes them so, well, balanced.
An excerpt from "Entre Nous"
"In France, I enjoyed the luxuries (to the French, they're basic human rights) of France's socialized health care system: Week long post maternity stays in French hospitals, Post-natal at-home care. A host of certified daycare specialists, Pediatricians who always make inexpensive house calls. Free, high quality nursery schools and state subsidized nannies when Grandma wasn't around. I came to understand the deeply-rooted sense of comfort that the working French girl feels living in a society that does not pay lip service to family values, but supports them in truly concrete, self-evident ways."
Yes, that right- State subsidized nannies!!! seriously??? I want to move. Not to mention their 35 hour work weeks, mandatory 5 weeks of vacation and ingrained ability to disassociate their identities with their "professions" Life in France is not, in general, all about the Benjamins- a healthy and refreshing way to think to this first generation American.