Votre definition du luxe s’il vous plaît?
Ah, the meaning of luxury. . .
In this, the second chapter of my completely unscientific sampling of 20 French women between the ages of 40 and 80 (please see Feb.6th for part one) on what for them signifies luxury two recurring themes prevailed: Security and Time.
Let me hasten to add, the last preoccupation for the majority of these women is to worry about “security”. It seems to me their response is a reflection of the current state of the world — and the daily hammering reminders on every evening newscast — that makes even the most materially comfortable among us uncomfortable, perhaps even anxious for our and our children’s futures.
As for the “time” factor (i.e., lack thereof) it varied, not surprisingly, depending upon each woman’s age.
Once again the only constraint I put on the question, or the answers if you will, was to caution my subjects to please not wander off into billionaire fantasy land. That’s too easy for those who can travel over there and for the rest of us it’s just plain annoying. But if one’s luxury is a dream, which you’ll see below it sometimes is — how wonderful is that?
Giséle: “To bathe for an hour in the milk of a jennet.” For those of you, like moi, who didn’t know what in the world she was talking about she longs, like Cleopatra, to soak in the milk of a female donkey (I looked this up and the word is either jenny or jennet) she said “female donkey”. I asked her if regular cow’s milk would do the trick if she couldn’t find the real thing, she said “no”. (French women can be very stubborn when they have an idea in their heads.)
Anne-Françoise: “To set my clock for 9 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.”
Annie: “I have a room in my house everyone in my family knows is ‘my room’ and in that room I have all my music and my piano. For me, it is pure luxury to pass hours playing the piano. Sometimes I just do my scales the way I did when I was a little girl. Now I find it more difficult to play Chopin; instead I play music from films. But no matter what I play, I’m happy and transported into another world.”
Juliette: “I’m a descendant of an old French family and as a result I have beautiful silver and porcelain, but unfortunately no longer have the means to entertain in the way my parents and
grandparents once did. However, my great luxury is to invite a few intimate friends for a simple dinner: salad, omelette, bread and winefor example, served on all the precious family relics I still possess. Candles make everything feel like we’re dining in another epoch and we inevitably have an extraordinary evening.”
Marie-Laure: “I have always wanted to be an actress, but my life led me in other directions, and I’m very happy it did, but I have never forgotten that yearning. Recently I started taking acting classes and from time to time I have minor parts in minor productions. My most extraordinary experiences have been when I ‘play’ the role of an extra in a film. I have no words and perhaps one sees me for a second — or not at all, but I melt into the story of the film. It’s particularly exciting when I’m in costume from another century and I become someone else completely. I believe for those moments.”
Claudie: “Ever since I was a child I wanted to be an artist, but my father told me I didn’t have talent and that it was essential I learn a metier. I did everything he told me to do because he made me believe I could never realize my dream. Three years ago I decided to take painting lessons and from the instant I picked up a brush my life changed. I don’t know whether I have talent, but I do know it’s my great luxury and my grand bonheur (happiness).”
Anne-Charlotte: “There’s nothing I love more than wandering around my garden — winter, fall, spring and summer — cutting flowers, berries and leaves to make bouquets which I place all over the house. Even in the winter I have bushes with red berries and tiny white flowers. Occasionally I’ll buy a few blossoms from the florist to mix in with what I find chez moi. I love my house filled with flowers. I collect vases from flea markets, boutiques, wherever I travel so so my arrangements are never the same, that’s what makes it so much fun for me. And I always have a tiny bouquet next to my bed in a vase my daughter made for me.”
Odile: “At this very moment I’m living my dream, or if you will, my ultimate luxury. Nine months ago I took a sabbatical from my job as the principal of a school, left for England and submerged myself into English language courses. I lived in an apartment with ‘students’ fromfrom all over the world who wanted to learn or improve their English, everyone was much younger than I, but I don’t think I have ever felt more alive or fulfilled in my life. Now that I’m back in France I think perhaps I’ll see if I can become an au pair in an American or English family to improve my accent and maybe later teach English to pre-schoolers. Why not? All I know is I’m happy.”
Ava: “One day, just one day, I would like to be pampered in a thalasso theraphy spa. Of course I’d like a week, but I don’t want to be greedy.” (Just click on thalasso theraphy and you’ll understand. . .)
Marie-Louise: “I would like a complete makeover: new haircut, a makeup lesson, manicure, pedicure. And since I’m already in an ‘institute de beaute‘ for my new look, why not a massage?”