How to be Parisian

Say chic: the author, model and mother, Caroline de Maigret, off duty in the French countryside; and below, with her son, Anton.

in the new book, "how to be parisian wherever you are", four impossibly chic friends offer a spirited take on what it really means to be a Parisienne. here, An exclusive excerpt on motherhood (the French way) and the art of being a woman

Authors Caroline de Maigret, Audrey Diwan, Anne Berest, Sophie Mas. Photographs by Yarol Poupaud

Let’s be honest: the Parisienne is a selfish woman. A loving mother, yes, but nonetheless incapable of forgetting herself completely. In Paris you won’t find many mater dolorosa, sacrificial women whose lives revolve around cooking shepherd’s pie for their numerous progeny. The Parisienne does not stop existing the day she has a child.

She does not give up her somewhat adolescent lifestyle, her nights out with friends, her parties, or her mornings-after feeling worse for wear. Indeed, she doesn’t give up anything because she also embraces her role as a mother. She wants to be there to educate her child, to watch him grow up, to pass on her values, her culture, her philosophy. And what happens in the life of a woman who refuses to give up anything? Disorder – and lots of it. A disorder so normal it may even become, through repetition, a new form of order. 

And this is perhaps the guiding principle of a Parisian mother’s education system. Her child is not king, because he is a satellite to her own life. At the same time, her child is omnipresent because this satellite follows his mother everywhere, and together they share valuable moments. He might join her at a lunch, accompany her to a boutique, end up at a concert or a cocktail party, where he will fall asleep on a sofa as she watches over him with equal amounts of guilt and tenderness. Her child also goes to school and to the park, and plays tennis, joins sports teams or takes English lessons.

These moments between two ages, these moments of complicity that would normally be forbidden, become regular exceptions, fun detours to throw the child’s timetable off track. And in general, neither is complaining. Later on, they will both cherish these fleeting images, fragments of conversation gleaned here and there, the vestiges of the adult world he will have caught a glimpse of, helping him to form a joyful image of what awaits him one day. According to the Parisienne, this joie de vivre is the best way of inspiring children to grow up. And also the best way for mothers to never miss the lives they led before they had children.


  1. How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas, is an Ebury Press book, published in Australia by Random House. For further details, look up: