The French Woman is a Femme-enfant

There is the femme fatale.

There is the trophy-wife.

There is the bimbo.

There is the lolita.

And there is the femme-enfant. 

Not long ago, as I was having a conversation on women with male friends, one of them cut short and suddenly told me “you know what, very simply, our type of girls is the femme-enfant one”.

It’s funny coz we all understood what this friend meant by “femme-enfant” so I was wondering if it’s because we were all French. An English translation for “femme-enfant” would be “child-woman”. I asked German friends if there was such a word that could translate “femme-enfant” in German. Funny thing, they actually have “men-children” in Germany! But no femme-enfants. Then I asked a Belgian friend who speaks fluently French and Flemish. Interestingly, the word femme-enfant does not translate into Flemish, which led me to the conclusion that maybe, this concept is proper to the French language and maybe to the French culture.

So let me explain what a femme-enfant is, and if there actually is such a thing as femme-enfants in your language and culture, or any other types of complex gender-related stereotypes, please share!

1. A stereotype of a French woman: the “femme-enfant”

A femme-enfant is a type of women.
It’s a stereotype. Continue reading


Love Letter from Napoléon to his wife Joséphine, 30th of March 1796

I have not spent a day without loving you; I have not spent a night without embracing you; I have not so much as drunk a single cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain separated from the moving spirit of my life. In the midst of my duties, whether I am at the head of my army or inspecting the camps, my beloved Josephine stands alone in my heart, occupies my mind, fills my thoughts. If I am moving away from you with the speed of the Rhone torrent, it is only that I may see you again more quickly. If I rise to work in the middle of the night, it is because this may hasten by a matter of days the arrival of my sweet love. (…)

My spirit is heavy; my heart is fettered and I am terrified by my fantasies… You love me less; but you will get over the loss. One day you will love me no longer; at least tell me; then I shall know how I have come to deserve this misfortune. …Farewell, my wife: the torment, joy, hope and moving which draw me close to Nature, and with violent impulses as tumultuous as thunder. I ask of you neither eternal love, nor fidelity, but simply…truth, unlimited honesty. The day when you say “I love you less”, will mark the end of my love and the last day of my life. If my heart were base enough to love without being loved in return I would tear it to pieces.

Josephine! Josephine! Remember what I have sometimes said to you: Nature has endowed me with a virile and decisive character. It has built yours out of lace and gossamer. Have you ceased to love me? Forgive me, love of my life, my soul is racked by conflicting forces. My heart obsessed by you, is full of fears which prostrate me with misery…I am distressed not to be calling you by name. I shall wait for you to write it. Farewell! Ah! if you love me less you can never have loved me. In that case I shall truly be pitiable.

Bonaparte, 30th of March 1796

(Original version in French below)

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These are some interesting readings I stumbled upon in the last days, if you read stuff that are worth sharing, drop me a message!


Poster from an exhibition at the City Hall of Paris in 2010; the website of the exhibition is still running, it is simple, but great, turn the volume on! More photographs of weddings taken by Gérard Uferas on his website.

Paris, city of love {sparkles, sighs and tears}… In celebration of Valentine’s day, let us explore the topic of marriage in France and try to answer this way too important question: what would their marriage have been like had Mr Big and Carrie been a French couple?

They would have been one of the 660 wedding celebrated daily in France in 2012. They’d be part of the 3/5 of French couples who chose to get married (when the other couples go for a legal commitment called the “PACS”, the French civil union, or no particular legal status at all). They most probably are 32 years old for him and 30 for her. But wait, our Mr Big was already married before… Like 21% of the men tying the knot, it would be a second wedding for him. No second wedding for Carrie, but a second passport, maybe, since 1 marriage out of 5 is “mixte” in France, as it includes a foreign born person.

“Mademoiselle, Monsieur, il faut que vous sachiez que la cérémonie du mariage est une cérémonie courte. Donc dans moins de dix min, Mademoiselle je cesserai de vous appeler Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle. Donc là j’en profite, je vais en caser beaucoup d’ici la fin du mariage parce que ce sont les derniers, Mademoiselle. Après, je vous appellerai Madame.” Paris d’Amour soundtrack Continue reading


Explore the Parisian flats of Coco Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Kenzo, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Azzedine Alaia, Vanessa Bruno, Isabel Marant and Marc Jacobs. Continue reading


Illustration Faustine Sayagh for Les Echos

Wanna attend French university classes? Let’s look at the offer of MOOCs (massive open online courses) and online classes in France. Continue reading


It’s been more than a year now that Pamela Druckerman’s book about French parenting, Bringing Up Bébé, One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting was published and made people talk about it. So after having tackled on the blog several topics I like, I decided it was high time I read this book.

I’m always a little suspicious towards those best sellers as I dread that they won’t do more than exploit a few French stereotypes, and you know how funny then annoying it is to hear someone repeat/ask stuff about your country that come from where the hell.

Simply put: I liked it a lot. I was hooked after a few pages, it’s fluid, it’s fun and you learn many things about France and the mentality of the French middle class as she precises many times.

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