The hallmarks of French culture are well-documented and almost universally admired, encompassing everything from fine art to fine dining and even finer wine. Paris has cast a spell over writers, artists and musicians from all around the world, while the sunlit southern coast remains one of the world's most highly prized holiday destinations. Whether its the fashion houses, fresh produce or first-class chalets that inspire your envy, there are ways to introduce elements of French culture to your lifestyle – no matter where in the world you are.
The ambience of the French countryside was immortalised in Marcel Proust’s classic novel A la recherche du temps perdu. His flowing descriptions of the country town of Illiers in the 19th century perfectly encapsulate the bucolic charms of rural France, many of which remain unchanged today. Although importing cobbled streets and church steeples may be overly complicated, within your own four walls you can recreate that same sense of peace and tranquillity associated with the French Riviera.
Natural stone floors, rough painted plaster and high beamed ceilings lend an air of history and comfort, emphasised by copper pots and pans hanging visibly in the kitchen and woven baskets filled with fresh fruits or dried flowers. Juxtapose grandeur with simplicity by investing in a chandelier to hang between the rafters and selecting a Regency-style dining table and upholstered chairs. All you need now is the scent of freshly baked baguettes drifting from the oven and a jovial party of guests ready to settle in for the evening.
Wine and dine
The French people's respect for the sanctity of good food and drink is unrivalled around the world, which in turn has an important influence on the national way of life. To emulate this, locate your nearest bakery and make a morning visit for bread or pastries part of your routine. Enjoy your purchase in the peace and quiet of your own breakfast room – accompanied by a café au lait, naturellement. For lunch, try to take at least an hour to savour three courses, all made that day with fresh, seasonal ingredients. In the evening, you'll want to set aside even more time to allow for a relaxed dinner party, accompanied by several bottles of vintage wine and of course, a substantial cheese course.
The finer things
Wander through a traditional market in any town, village or city in France, and you'll soon establish that craftsmanship is valued over price. Preserve this mentality in your own home nation and restrict your purchases to handmade goods, prized antiques and one-of-a-kind artworks. When it comes to food shopping, shun supermarkets in favour of butchers, bakers and greengrocers, picking out each ingredient with thought and consideration. Not only will you be helping small businesses, you're also likely to notice an improvement in the nutritional value of your meals.
If you decide that instead of bringing French culture to you, you simply must travel to it, Engel & Völkers can help. With shops in Paris and Cannes, our agents have the local knowledge and experience to guide you through the buying process. Visit Engel & Völkers France to start searching for your château, maison or chalet today.