Say Bonjour to the Lady: Parenting from Paris to New York written by Florence Mars and Illustrated by Pauline Leveque, Out Now!
Say Bonjour to the lady raises the difference between Parisian and New York education, which in the end, complete each other so perfectly!
Meet Florence Mars and Pauline Leveque, the two New York Base French Mommy behind this wonderful children's book, out today!
How came the idea behind this book? And how have you collaborated on it together?
Florence: Since we moved to the US seven years ago I kept a journal of all the things that surprised me, I really have been observing the locals with great attention! Arriving in NY it came as a complete shock how different Parisians and New Yorkers really are. As a mother of three and as the boss of Bonpoint (read our previous interview with Florence here) in the US I have had A LOT to observe around parenting issues and I thought it would be interesting to do a book about all those little differences. It was very natural to ask Pauline to join the fun as she is not only a very good friend and a mother but also a very talented illustrator.
Pauline: We collaborated with quite a few glasses of wine, sometimes delicious cakes, a lot of talks (not exclusively about the book by the way), and a good dose of friendship…
You are both Parisians, waiting your children in NY, how do you personally feel upbringing children the “French” way differs from the “American Way”?
Florence: The French way is all about respecting rules, doing things “comme il faut”. And the American way is definitely about making sure your kids are comfortable; something that we really do not care so much about in Paris! The French children are very chic but American more at ease. Our kids will be able to behave very well in a restaurant at age 6 but yours will be able to give a speech in public at this age!
Pauline: It is a wonderful and thrilling experience, but the true answer to your question is precisely the purpose of the book! It took us about 150 pages of illustrations and text to answer it.
What do you miss from your childhood in Paris that you wish you could share here with your kids?
Florence: The jardin d’acclimation !!!
Pauline: I guess, French culture, because it’s a part of their family heritage, but also a few things of the daily life. I remember the amazing smell of the French bakeries, the colors of the open markets in the streets on a Sunday morning, the beauty and charm of Paris.
What are you grateful for in NY that your kids wouldn’t have in Paris?
Florence: I am so grateful that NY taught our children open mindedness (that is not Parisian at all!) and how to be cool. They will not raise an eyebrow if they see a man dressed like a smurf in the subway or covered in tattoos. No big deal. And they were taught the NO bullying philosophy at school which is pretty amazing. See how positive I am about America ☺
Pauline: The cultural diversity. The energy. The way the Americans teach confidence to their kids.
What French tradition do you insist on keeping with your mini New Yorker Kids?
Florence: The French tradition that we will not give up with our mini New Yorkers is the diner. It is every night around the table all together. I cook. Nobody is fooling around. We share the food and the conversation. All the rules for “la table” are no jokes in our house.
Pauline: To say “Hi”, “Please” and “Thank you”. For my son to learn how to be a gentleman. For my daughter that “show off” is the contrary of elegance. I also want to teach them to appreciate the chance they have to live in such an amazing city like New York, where all the colors, languages and cultures of the worlds are around them.
What do you hope to share with this book?
Florence: We hope to make people smile. And not only French parents! Education is such a big deal here it is sometimes hysterical. French mothers are way too strict and Americans probably too cool. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle!
Pauline: Both education have their strengths and weaknesses, we haven’t tried to prove that one or the other was better or less, but just to express with humor how different they could be. This being said, I have no doubt that whatever nationality a mother and father are, they love their children the same way.