With their ability to look chic at seemingly any hour of the day, it’s safe to assume that French women have a few tricks up their perfectly tailored sleeves when it comes to their mornings. And as it turns out, many of them do—and it all has to do with getting up on the right side of the bed, starting the day slowly, and enjoying a croissant here or there. Now that’s a routine we’d be happy to embrace.
Here, five French women share how they approach their mornings—you’re going to want to take notes.
Get Up Early, Then Take It Easy
The secret to seeming put-together and unhurried even when you have a busy schedule? Set that alarm clock. “I love waking up early to have a long breakfast with my daughter before taking her to school,” says Barbara Sablon, director of communications at Le Royal Monceau–Raffles Paris.
Clémence von Mueffling is on the same page. “I definitely like to sleep as much as I can, but I cannot leave home without a minimum of preparation either,” says the author, who was born and raised in Paris.
A little bit of movement is helpful, too. “My best days are the ones when I wake up early, see the sunrise, have time for yoga or a slow-paced exercise—like a walk on the beach, for example—have brekkie, and then go back home for a nap. That’s life,” says Clementine Desseaux, model, entrepreneur, and blogger of Bonjour Clem. Sablon also tries to make time for an hour-long walk along the Seine at least twice a week.
If you want to take things slower, simply stretch it out—a practice Nastasia Chevallier, PR and communication manager at Le Royal Monceau–Raffles Paris, swears by: “When I’m not too tired, I like to wake up early and do some stretching or Pilates at home, then check my emails and the news on my Le Monde app while having breakfast.”
Treat Your Skin Gently
All the women swear by micellar water when it comes to washing their face and never forget a moisturizer, proving that sometimes skin care doesn’t need to be overcomplicated.
“I tone my skin with micellar water or a toner (such as Filorga or Bioderma), then I spritz on some thermal water (from Avène), before applying my moisturizer,” says von Mueffling, who has a family history in the French beauty business: Both her grandmother and mother were French Vogue beauty directors.
Desseaux takes a similar approach. “I start with cleaning my face with organic unbleached cotton pads and Bioderma or Tromborg cleanser,” she says. “I add a couple of drops of Odiele dry almond oil for hydration, et voilà!”
Even American-turned-Frenchie Lindsey Tramuta (she’s lived in Paris for 12 years now and is married to a Parisian) keeps this uncomplicated: “I don’t wash my face in the morning. I only use a toner or micellar water, then moisturize with SPF.”
Chevallier likes to add in a few other French pharmacy favorites—and the occasional luxury buy. “I cleanse with Gel Nettoyant Éclat du Jour from Clarins, then apply some Eau Micellaire from La Roche-Posay using a cotton round to take off the hard water,” she says. “Next, I pat on a day cream, which at the moment is Sorbet Jeunesse from Dior.”
Go Light on Cosmetics
Minimalism is key when it comes to makeup. “I apply just enough to look feminine but not overdone,” says von Mueffling, who literally wrote the book on French beauty. Every morning, she keeps things simple with a light foundation, a bit of blush, and some mascara.
Tramuta lists Bare Minerals matte powder, Benefit under-eye concealer, and Dior Lip Glow as her daily musts. “I wear more if and when the mood strikes and when I have formal events to attend, but at the moment, I end up feeling better and freer with less,” she explains.
Keep Your Hair Fuss-Free
While there’s some debate about how often you should wash your hair—for some it’s daily, others every two days or even less so—the trick to an easy morning is a nighttime shampoo. “I wash my hair in the evening every two days because my hair is long, and I wear a braid every night,” says Chevallier. “Every morning, I put in some orange blossom spray I picked up in Morocco to comb and detangle, and every two days the L’Oreal Mythic Oil to nourish.”
Von Mueffling also opts for a nighttime shower. “On weekday mornings, I use my favorite hairbrush from Mason Pearson to give volume to my hair, and I use some clips to hold it back,” she says. “And I have a great trick for my bad-hair days: I use a headband that looks like a braid made from my own hair, so it gives a false impression of volume!”
For Tramuta, it’s all about ease. “I think my hair looks better when I wash it during the morning or daytime,” she says. “But 80 percent of the time, I wash it at night and then sleep on it and wake up with wild waves. In the morning, I use a brush meant to get out knots that makes my hair smooth but keeps its movement.”
But all that being said, if a daily wash and dry works great for you, you’re not alone. “I wash my hair every morning—I know, it is not good, but for me, it is the best way to feel fresh all day,” says Sablon. “Then I brush it once or twice a day, just to put in it order after wearing my motorbike helmet.”
Don’t Forget Breakfast
No matter how busy they are, all of these women make time for a quick (or leisurely) bite to eat. Tramuta’s breakfast is classically French: “I’m a plain yogurt and granola or unsweetened cereal girl. I almost always add fruit—bananas or berries, if in season.” Similarly, Chevallier opts for a bowl of muesli with dry fruit and soy milk, or a toasted baguette with jam homemade by her mom.
Desseaux mixes it up a bit. “After my tea—English Breakfast with French organic honey and almond milk—if I have an at-home morning, I cook breakfast,” she says. “Fried brown rice and vegetables, a veggie burger and half an avocado, or gluten-free toast with smashed avocado and Greek olive oil—it depends on my mood.”
Von Mueffling swears by 14 hours of intermittent fasting (meaning if she eats dinner at 6 p.m., she won’t eat breakfast until 8 a.m.), so sometimes she eats when she gets to her office. When breakfast does come around, she keeps it pretty simple: “Usually I have oatmeal and add a little dark chocolate to it,” she says. “But I also love a whole wheat croissant or, as a special treat, a pain au chocolat.”
Who would have guessed that achieving that je ne sais quoi was so easy?
See more routines:
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