Thursday, January 3, 2013

Let's talk about clichés.

When I hear someone use the word cliché the notion I get is usually a negative one. Or at least one of disappointment: "Oh this is soooo cliché!" And YES, a cliché is something that has been seen/heard/talked about over and over again in a certain context.
But I personally love clichés. They reflect a tiny part of an undeniable truth. You just don't have to take them too literal and with a bit of wink.

So in all my past shared flats I heard the phrase: "Oh you can be sooo German sometimes!" quite often. That was usually the case when we had big flat parties or dinners and I insisted on cleaning up (at least the nastiest bits) before going to bed. Since I don't like waking up and having to clean up after other people, I am always trying to make sure nobody has to clean up after me. So in this situation the cliché for my former flat mates was that Germans are tidy, neat (which I am really not when it comes to my own things) and have to do so in a timely fashion. I take that as a rather  positive cliché. The other side of the medal however is that tidy, neat and time concerned people are not considered very laid back, but rather un-relaxed. I am sure the sentence "Oh you can be sooo German sometimes!" would have sounded a lot less reproachful if I had simply left everything that night and cleaned up the next day. But hey! nobody is perfect, right?!

But let's talk about the good kind of clichés. I find them amusing. They help to categorize and deal with certain circumstances that can be otherwise quite frustrating. Living in France I find myself very often in situations that make me feel uneasy. When I ask my boyfriend why cetain things are handled the way they are and he has no satisfying answer he says: "Well, that's just the way it is done in France!" So I put it aside. It is a (general) French thing. I can't change all of France and all the French. I got to live with it.

And then there is those beautiful French things. The ones that make you laugh, like the old guy on his bike wearing a stripped shirt and two baguettes under the arm as soon as you cross the French boarder.

Or wonderful croissants and maccarons in every French bakery you pass...

But what about design, lifestyle and architecture? When thinking of France my first answers would be:
Design - Stark
lifestyle - chic French women (a lot more than French men)
architecture - Paris vs. the Mediterranean (Provence, Côte d'Azure, Alpes Maritimes...)
All of them I would label as extraordinary chic but never over the top. This means that I love the richness of details in one aspect of all things French, but then at the same time an understatement in another.
Like this cake: WOW....spectacular details, but very tuned down in color... so really not that flashy. Brilliant!

And to show you what I mean, I started compiling a Pinterest board on what I think is FRENCH CLICHÉ ... all those beautiful things that I associate with France and French lifestyle. 
What do you think? Anything missing?

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