8 Lessons From The French On Living The Good Life (PHOTOS)

PHOTOS: 8 Things The French Can Teach Us About Living The Good Life

We'll be the first to admit, we thought our fancy for French culture had gone over the deep end. (A single spin around the French street-style photos on Pinterest, or a visit to the local hipster hangout that looks straight out of "Amelie," brought us to that place.) But faux-aged illustrations of the Eiffel Tower aside, and there are some valuable lessons in the classic, seemingly curated lifestyles many of our French friends live.

From their approach to interiors to the way they grocery shop, we're co-opting these eight:

1. Older Is Better
In the design world, people call it "good bones," for the rest of us, it's good old tradition. Either way, there's a reason those buildings have lasted all these years with all their Old World charm in tact, and there's nothing prefab about it.
french lifestyle
Flickr: Blastframe

2. Staircases Can Be A Good Thing
It's an idea that many New Yorkers have embraced (and the reason some say the French manage to stay so thin), but city-dwellers in places like Paris have long known the merits of these doorman-less digs and it's high time we do, too.
paris apartment stairs

3. Quality Matters
Yes, the convenience of Target, Costco and the supermarket is a big plus. However, the tasteless chicken breasts we bring home aren't exactly life-enhancing. In France, it's not uncommon to pick up a heavenly loaf of bread, then stop by the butcher and the wine shop on your way home from work. The freshness and quality make up for the time commitment. Taste matters.
french cheese shop

4. Let Light In
French doors and Paris' ubiquitous terraces all center on one key element of French design -- creating bright, airy spaces with lots of light. Neutral palettes and oversized windows ramp up the light factor even more. And on this side of the Atlantic, with daylight at a premium these days, they're a welcome (and easier) way to get in a little sunniness of our own.

5. Flowers Have Power (And You Don't Need A Garden To Grow Them)
The Parisian plant-lovers who started this trend were clearly inspired by their country-living cousins out in Provence and beyond. We're inspired, in turn, by their craftiness in incorporating flowers into much smaller city dwellings and by the neighborly gesture it creates. (If only we weren't such black thumbs about it.)
french flower terrace

6. Life Is Better When You Can Unplug
You'd be hard pressed to find a TV or other electronic devices messing up the classic, aesthetic loveliness of many French homes, and that's precisely the kind of just-off-the-grid living we've been yearning for. Plus, who needs a TV when you've got gilded goodness like this (a hallmark of French design) as your focal point?

7. Good, Strong Coffee Is Pretty Much The Only Way To Start The Day
Between the baguettes and the croissants and their beloved coffee press, the French have mastered mornings... and midday humps... and given us just about all of the sustenance we need to make it through until that dinnertime glass of Merlot.
french coffee

8. Character Should Be Celebrated
It's a shame when everyone and everything starts to look alike. Individuality keeps life interesting -- instead of defaulting to the same white paint everyone else is using, try something else. Anything else. Don't replace that old dining table that has a few nicks, embrace the imperfections.
paris apartment

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