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France

  • The French legend is a very simple one. All really beautiful clothes are designed in the houses of the French couturiers and all women want those clothes.

  • There is no word in English for chic. Why should there be? Everything chic is by legend French. Perhaps everything chic is in reality French.

  • The French are a race of individuals. There is no type.

  • ... stoicism is the fundamental characteristic of the French.

  • In France wine is thought of as food, so necessary to life that nobody is too poor to go without it ...

  • ... France eats more conciously, more intelligently, than any other nation.

  • Frenchwomen just never look ungroomed, do they?

  • In France cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.

  • It is difficult to admonish Frenchmen. Their habit of mind is unfavorable to preachment.

  • [France] may be the only country in the world where the rich are sometimes brilliant.

  • ... fashion is the deity everyone worships in this country [France], and, from the highest to the lowest, you must submit. ... To be out of fashion is more criminal than to be seen in a state of nature, to which the Parisians are not averse.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1784), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • It is nice in France they adapt themselves to everything slowly they change completely but all the time they know that they are as they were.

  • ... there are the two sides to a Frenchman, logic and fashion and that is the reason why French people are exciting and peaceful. Logic and fashion.

  • Cooking like everything else in France is logic and fashion.

  • ... the French write plays and paint as naturally as we play jazz — it's just a national gift.

    • Alice B. Toklas,
    • 1948, in Edward Burns, ed,. Staying On Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas ()
  • I have just learned a delicious French usage. On wedding invitations when they say the mass is at noon they mean one o'clock --when they say at noon precise they mean half after twelve — and when they say at very precisely noon they mean noon.

    • Alice B. Toklas,
    • 1948, in Edward Burns, ed,. Staying On Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas ()
  • Paris is not a city, it is the image, the symbol of France, its today and yesterday, the reflection of its history, its geography and its hidden essence.

  • The French would eat anything that couldn't outrun them.

  • France is the only place where you can make love in the afternoon without people hammering on your door.

  • [On the French:] They're more intelligent than the English because they never stop taking exams. They start when they're five, then just never stop. And they spend the whole time asking each other about them: when they're going to take them, how they're going to do them, whether they passed, why they failed, when the next one is. It's a sort of social game really.

  • ... only Paris can supply the unknown force which is the very essence of love — novelty. She would grow old in other places, and twice a year she would return to Paris to be rejuvenated, like those miraculous trees of the Champs-Élysées which bear new leaves in autumn.

  • ... those two wholesome defects of the French people, malice and curiosity, both of which are essential to its greatness.

  • Conversation as talent exists only in France. In other countries, conversation provides politeness, discussion, and friendship; in France, it is an art for which imagination and soul are certainly very welcome, but which can also provide its own secret remedies to compensate you for the absence of either or both, if you so desire.

  • The universe is in France; outside it, there is nothing.

    • Madame de Staël,
    • 1796, in J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël ()
  • ... I have been in Paris for almost a week and I have not heard anyone say calories, or cholesterol, or even arterial plaque. The French do not season their food with regret.

  • There is something in the quality of the French mind to which I have always felt a reluctant kinship. They are the only people I know who can leap into an enormous vocabulary of words and beat them up with the wings of their spirit into a fine hysterical eloquence.

  • There is no heaven but Paris, and a French husband is its prophet.

  • I always hotly defend the French against the charge that they are grasping materialists only interested in money. A nation of shopkeepers whose motto is obviously 'The customer is always wrong,' simply cannot care that much about money.

  • You have two countries, your own and France.

  • Really, Emma, you're like so many Americans — if the French baked a gopher and stuck sprigs of parsley in its ears, you'd think it was delicious.

  • ... how the French can talk. About a stew, about a fly on the parapet, about death, about anything.

  • In France that is the one rule, never make trouble.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1953, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • Just as I came out into the rue, an omnibus came by — pas complet, so I sprang in, without that prayer and fasting which should chasten the mind before risking it in a French omnibus.

    • Susan Hale,
    • letter (1868), in Caroline P. Atkinson, ed., Letters of Susan Hale ()
  • France, like every other Western country except the United States, has long accepted the principle that comprehensive health care is the right of every citizen. No Frenchman need ever fear that catastrophic illness will wipe him out financially. How long, do you suppose, will it take us, in the United States, to catch up?

  • ... the French have taste the way other people have gods or despots. The fact of an authorized, official good taste reassures them. They would be anxious without it, because their articles of tastes are like articles of faith — not meant for improvisation but firm and aggressive, like good haircuts or well-cut suits or the right flowers on the table.

    • Jane Kramer,
    • "Prisoners of Taste" (1989), in Steven Barclay, ed., A Place in the World Called Paris ()
  • I stand and listen to people speaking French in the stores and in the street. It's such a pert, crisp language, elegant as rustling taffeta.

  • France! Such a beautiful word for such a beautiful country. The only place in the world where a little baby I knew could have a birth certificate that read 'Mother unknown.'

  • ... all the French speak French — even the children. Many Americans and Britishers who visit the country never quite adjust to this, and the idea persists that the natives speak the language just to show off or be difficult.

  • The French love lawsuits, you know. No respectable family is ever without one.