French beauty: French Women like to wear their hair natural, like this brunette with slightly wavy hair.Michel Nguyen

Every time I go to Paris, I’m inspired anew. I look at the women with their ruby red lips, their studiously disheveled hair, their outfits that—really, aren’t that exceptional and yet still scream “cool” because of the way they hang on their petite frames or just because of the attitude with which they’re worn—and I think: I can do that!

You see, French women make beauty look so easy. They’re not all made up, hair sprayed and complexion painted to perfection. Their nails don’t match their lips. Their shoes don’t match their bags. They’re not highlighted, bronzed, veneered, acrylic tipped, implanted, injected or perfected. And yet they’re beautiful.

So what do they have that we don’t (okay, at least I don’t)?

French beauty: French Women like to wear little makeup and a bold red lip, like this brunette with a fringe and dressed in a cream mac (left). A woman from behind, with her blonde hair tied up in a bun (right).Making Magique

It all starts with attitude

My friends who date French women assure me the pretty young things are actually racked with insecurities. But you’d never know it looking at them. French women ooze sex appeal. It’s in the way they walk, the way they talk, and the way they hold their wine glasses. They think, “I’m beautiful,” and it radiates outwards, causing others to look at and admire them which, in turn, makes them feel beautiful—a brilliant cycle if there ever was one.

They celebrate their femininity

You’d never catch a French woman trying to emulate a man the way we do in the States. Here, we’re always putting on tough girl acts. We’re competitive and try to be uber independent. We even wear power suits and poker faces. Showing that we’re equal to men is a great byproduct of the women’s rights movement. But it’s not so sexy. French women embrace what makes them uniquely feminine—softness, caregiving, short skirts—instead of trying to prove they’re just like men.

French beauty: French Women don't wear a lot of makeup, like this brunette woman who only wears chic sunglasses and no makeup.Making Magique

They’re good with props

French women are famous devotees of lacy lingerie and potent perfume. But they’ve got other props up their sleeves, too. Things like cigarettes and compacts and lap dogs—accoutrements that draw attention to themselves and invite others to look at them. And when people are looking at them, you better believe they make sure they look good.

They know how to dress

As Coco Chanel said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Clothing matters just as much as hair and makeup when it comes to beauty, and French women know this—and not just what they wear, but how they wear it. If they wear tight jeans, they offset them with loose, billowy blouses. If they wear short skirts, they won’t also give away a lot of cleavage. It’s all about subtlety; French women know there’s nothing sexier than the power of suggestion.

French beauty: French Women have that effortless chic look of slightly untidy hair and minimal makeup like the girl in this picture posing in front of an apartment balcony.Wildfleur

They like to flirt

The image of a this adorable French woman winking at my friend in a crowded bar is forever etched in my mind. If I had done it, it would have been so cheesy. I would have looked spastic and desperate. But the way she delivered that wink—with a blush, a smile, a quick look down and then back up… French women can flirt like no one’s business. And that gives a power that makes them irresistible.

They don’t strive for perfection

Freckles, scars, chipped teeth, wild hair—all the things we American girls try to tame and combat are celebrated by French women. They know how to make a freckle or scar sexy (call attention to it! make it a conversation piece!); they don’t let imperfect teeth stop them from smiling; and messy hair looks sexy when it’s tossed up or adorned with sparkly barrettes. American women try too hard to be perfect instead of just reveling in ourselves, our beauty, and what we have to offer.

French beauty: French Women always have their nails done, like this woman holding a cup of hot chocolate at a bistro.Wildfleur

Related Links:

  • Parisien Salon profiles Les Grands Magasins, the temples of French beauty
  • For some fab French beauty inspiration, check out Wildfleur and Making Magique
  • Garance Doré is also one of our favorite chroniclers of general French chic-ness

Written by Amy Thomas for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Amy Thomas

Amy Thomas is a sweets-obsessed writer based between New York and Paris. She published her best-selling “foodoir” (food writing meets memoir), Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate). This was followed up with the 2018 book Brooklyn in Love: A Memoir of Food, Family and Finding Yourself. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, T Magazine, New York Post, National Geographic Traveler, New York Magazine, Town & Country, Bust, Every Day with Rachel Ray and others.


  1. as an African we watch American movies alot. we mimic American… style. i purpose to try the French culture. thanks for the insight

  2. Bonjour;
    We;re talking about French Women–well I belive all women are beautiful,a gift that was given to them for a perpose,if this is the case about french women,than there’s french in all women,weather USA CANADA me when I find a women I love,it wouldn;t matter where she’s from,she would be special to me,I have the right to adore her etc. excuise my english,but I’m sure you know what I tard

  3. French women created women’s studies, feminist theory, made garçonnes an icon and destroyed gender norms, but yes they’re so girly unlike those butchy Americans *eyeroll*

  4. French women are grown up. Even as little girls they are taught to carry themselves in a certain way. Have you ever seen an American child (boy or girl) running through a store screaming at the top of their lungs. Or, mores the pity, in a restaurant. We americans coddle our children so much that they never truly grow up. That’s why women behave so badly. “Real Housewives of whatever city” The constant screaming and fighting. Grown up women DO NOT fight. Its sad. We could learn so much from other cultures, but just like children Americans are arrogant.

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