Parisian Living

The M Word: From Mademoiselle to Madame in France

by Darlene Lim
Written By

Darlene Lim

Darlene Lim is an award-winning short filmmaker who gave up her post of Communications Specialist at one of Canada’s largest media companies to embark on a one-year working holiday in Paris in 2010. It didn’t take long, however, for her to fall in love with the city and decide that one year in Paris wasn’t nearly long enough… She is now a print and video editorial project manager for a French fashion tech company and enjoys writing about everything from the best baguette in Paris to what it’s like to travel overnight on an unheated chicken bus to Uyuni, Bolivia, in the dead of winter (true story). View Darlene Lim's Website

16 comments on “The M Word: From Mademoiselle to Madame in France

I enjoyed Ketty’s response of yesterday the most — being called Madame has something, je ne sais quoi, more than being called Mademoiselle. But what I cannot and will not get used to, is being called “Tannie” (one of our local languages) which is Tante….now that makes one OLD! That does not feel good 🙁

Same thing happened to me, a few years ago and I haven’t forgotten about it. It happened at Monoprix and right there bang!, I was called Madame for the first time. I got anguished for a minute, until I heard the same word being thrown at a much younger woman. My soul came back into my body, although afterwards I was being called Madame all over the place and I got so used to it that to this day I like it even more than Mademoiselle.

What an enjoyable and well-written piece. Thank you! Although, I may have to disagree a touch … my experience is that aging is not as feared in France and the ‘Madame’ title is one of respect. Women of all ages are considered beautiful and sexy. My friends tell me it’s almost a sign of pride to move from ‘Mlle” to “Mme.” Own it with the style and pride that the beautiful French women do! xoxo

I experienced this in Buenos Aires, except it was Señora instead of Madame .. same difference though .
I loved it . It is a sign of respect and while some view South Americans as too boisterous or possibly rude, in Argentina they are very respectful of all women and very aware of “manners”.
I felt very at home when someone would refer to me as La Señora.

I experienced this in Buenos Aires, except it was Señora instead of Madame .. same difference though .
I loved it . It is a sign of respect and while some view South Americans as too boisterous or possibly rude, in Argentina they are very respectful of all women and very aware of “manners”.
I felt very at home when someone would refer to me as La Señora.

Fun post! Kind of a similar situation in the USA where you go from being called “Miss” to “Ma’am”. Though I think the usage depends more on the age of the user. I was once called “Ma’am” by an 8 year-old when I was 23, and now at 55, am frequently called “Miss” by those who are obviously older than me.

Fun post! Kind of have a similar thing in America, when you go from “Miss” to “Ma’am”. But I think the use is more relative to the age of the user. I was called “Ma’am” at 23 by an 8 year-old, and at 55, am regularly called “Miss” by those obviously older than me.

This is hilarious. I got called mademoiselle until I was 45. The French are so gallant.

Nice article!
To cheer you up, don’t forget that in France, another old lady of a respectable age, went by the name of Mademoiselle — in fact, until she left this world in 1971. It is Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. Yes, she certainly was free at heart and in spirit!

I’m excited to have discovered this HiP Paris blog… if it’s going to feed me such delicious things as the few posts I’ve sampled I have really good times ahead! Thanks X Jeanne

Bang on target and totally relateable, be it Madame, Senora, Ma’am or, in the Philippines, being mano’d! LOL! Loved this writer!

Ellen Young Gomez

Love the write up! Well written way of presenting the angst of aging OR accept or not accept being a madame. Brava, Darlene. Excellent article and photos!

As a married woman in her 40’s, I always thought it was almost disrespectful to call me “mademoiselle!” It drove me nuts!
You have given me a new perspective….
Do your French girlfriends view it the same way?
Thanks!

Very interesting article! That’s true, even for we french, choosing between “Mademoiselle” or “Madame” isn’t always obvious. More than that, as a french guy, calling a woman “Madame” could make her think that she look old, but calling her “Mademoiselle” could make her think that I try to cruise her…

Excellent and true!

Brilliant, funny article. Nothing reveals the hidden attitudes of a culture like these linguistic quirks.

Wonderful writing. More please.

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