THE EUROPEAN UNION has banned us from going to France—or any other member country. So, in deference to Bastille Day next Tuesday, we’ve decided to celebrate Gallic culture. Think French language, fashion, fragrance, art and the Macrons.
Here, 14 suggestions to mark the fall of the fortress on July 14, 1789.
RIGHT: If you can’t go to Paris, get to know the city with My Little Paris. Delivered two or three times a week, the e-mail gives you the insider’s scoop on the best bistros, sample sales, rooftop bars, custom-made fragrances. A recent issue mapped out favorite finds for the tastes of summer—pistachio ice cream, gazpacho, Greek salad, ceviche. One possible problem—you need to read French. LEFT: But if you want to learn French—right from your phone—try out Duolingo, a language-learning website and mobile app. The site uses flashcards and multiple-choice questions to drill you on new words, phrases and sentences. Don’t expect fluency, just some familiarity.
ABOVE: Every Friday since mid-April the Frick Collection has invited viewers for happy hour as a Frick curator (remotely) offers insights on a work of art with a complementary cocktail (it’s BYO to this virtual event). About a month or so ago, on the YouTube “Cocktails with a Curator” series, chief curator Xavier F. Salomon discussed the life and work of French painter François Boucher. The focus was on “A Lady on Her Daybed,” a portrait of an 18th-century stylish woman in her up-to-date, fashionable home. The complementary cocktail suggested—the potent French 75, reputed to have the same effect on you as the powerful French 75mm field gun.
LEFT: A blazer is one of a French woman’s wardrobe essentials. Just ask Inès de la Fressange. She’s partial to navy blue; we like white for summer. Roll up the sleeves, maybe pop the collar and wear with a relaxed attitude. Alex Mill’s cotton, unstructured Billie Blazer ($150) also comes in beige and pink. RIGHT: In Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets From Three Generations of French Beauty Editors, author Clémence von Mueffling offers tips from top beauty experts on how to cleanse your face (do it twice), give yourself a pedicure, apply makeup, wash your hair (use a small amount of shampoo) and choose a perfume. There are also plenty of product recommendations, Glossier Boy Brow and By Terry Glow-Expert Duo Stick, among them.
LEFT: Set the scene for an elegant garden party. A tabletop essential: this Provence Lavender Blue Tablecloth (69-by-69-inches, $235, RH Ballard), a French jacquard that’s been coated with a matte-finish acrylic on one side that makes it a snap to sponge off the Pastis and such. Complete the picture with a game of pétanque. RIGHT: Le Specs is actually an Australian sunglass brand, despite the “Le” in its name and what looks like a French flag on its website. What we admire are the label’s bold styles and affordable prices. Like these Beautiful Stranger Sunglasses ($48.30, Shopbop) with cat-eye shaped tortoiseshell frames.
ABOVE: Vive les Macrons! He (and his government) beat Covid-19 in France—better than most of his neighbors. She’s a grown-up girl, and she looks terrific in clothes. But best of all, they have the most romantic love story. So very French.
LEFT: Before Hermès’s Birkin Bag in the ‘80s, there was Jane Birkin’s straw bag, which she reportedly carried everywhere in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It’s still a summer staple. Stuff this French Market Straw Basket (21-by-13.7 inches, $49, Etsy) with supplies for your socially distant picnic. RIGHT: Every French girl has a marinière (a long-sleeved cotton shirt with horizontal stripes) in her closet. Once the traditional top of Breton fishermen, this simple style was popularized by the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Picasso and Chanel. Pair with a solid-colored (denim, white, red, etc.) or even a patterned bottom. Accessorize up or down. Made of 100 percent cotton jersey, the Saint James Authentic Breton Stripe Shirt comes in 15 different stripe combinations.
ABOVE: Made for the quintessential French woman, Brigitte Bardot, ballerinas are Maison Repetto’s signature. Feel like a dancer in these black patent leather High Cendrillon Ballerinas ($325). So many colors to choose from. Ooh-la-la.
LEFT: Slightly cropped with a faded wash, Levi’s straight-leg Wedgie Icon Jeans ($98, Shopbop) are a timeless, French-approved wardrobe basic. CENTER: I love that this Chanel CC Cream Super Active Correction Complete Sunscreen SPF 50 ($50, Nordstrom) not only helps my skin look more hydrated and smooth (it contains hyaluronic acid) but that it also contains a broad spectrum SPF 50, eliminating the need for another product. Woo-hoo or however you say that in French. RIGHT: Each one in this Pique-Nique Melamine Set of 4 Appetizer Plates ($15.56, Sur La Table) has a different French phrase. They’re dishwasher-safe. Très bien.