Smell of French Perfume,
or One Day like a Parisienne!
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Who doesn’t dream of visiting France: the most romantic, fabulous and unpredictable country in the world? France is the homeland of magnificent perfume, refined cheese and excellent wine. It is the native land of Napoleon, Édith Piaf, musketeers, troubadours, great ideas and exquisite cuisine. The French capital is considered the center of fashion and style, and it is not a secret that most girls have a huge pink dream to see Paris, and die!
French music, movies, fashion and cuisine are highly appreciated by Ukrainians, and in Kiev, French culture has become part of everyday life. Just walk around Khreshchatyk Street in the morning when ladies are hurrying to work — and you will be surprised that French perfumes are everywhere!
“Why are we talking up France today here?” one may ask. Well, it is far from incidental, as in April 2017, Ukraine is welcoming its 14th French Spring Festival, which will encompass nine cities from 1 to 29 April, including Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya, Lviv, Rivne, Berdychiv and Ivano-Frankivsk! You therefore have a great opportunity to dive into the fascinating French atmosphere in Kiev and learn something new about this country of romance, art and chic.
But first of all, let’s turn back time deep into history, as our country and France have had a tight relationship since ancient times! Ukraine and France always shared their best experiences and talents throughout their history, bringing each other new progressive ideas. We all know that Anna Yaroslavna (the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise) was a queen of France. She carried out a revolution, taught the French court to read and write, acquainted them with a bathhouse and made them use dinnerware during meals. She made a significant contribution to the development of France and perhaps made it a little bit better. The French respected and adored Anna Yaroslavna, and now we can see a monument in her honor in Paris.
And this is far from all! Consider Serge Lifar, the Ukrainian ballet dancer and choreographer. He did not become famous in Ukraine; his talent was not appreciated at all. However, in 1923 he emigrated to France, and his name went viral. Despite his wide popularity, the artist never forgot his motherland. One day, the president of France, Charles de Gaulle, offered Serge Lifar the chance to change his nationality to French, but Lifar refused, answering that he would remain a Ukrainian forever.
Sonia Delaunay was a Ukrainian-born French artist, who spent most of her life in Paris and conquered the world of fashion of exacting France. The stylist suggested replacing beads and feathers with minimalist coats and dresses of direct cut and a geometrical print. Yves Saint Laurent and Missoni fashion houses admitted that Delaunay was their inspiration. For her part, Delaunay said that her passion for bright colors connected with her childhood in Ukraine and her memories of rural weddings with dresses made in red and green tones and colorful ribbons.
What is more, the outstanding beauty of Ukrainian women is recognized and highly appreciated all over the world. Traditionally, Ukrainian models are often invited by Paris fashion houses, show up on French podiums and beautify the covers of French magazines. As a bright example, Olga Kurylenko who moved to Paris at the age of 16, became there a world-famous actress and model, and even starred in the movie Paris, je t’aime.
Love for beauty and fashion among both nationalities also results in close cooperation in the fashion industry. Both French and Ukrainian designers are happy to share ideas and trends during fashion weeks and more and more often you can see collections by Ukrainian designers in French boutiques.
Interestingly, both countries’ languages are also recognized worldwide among the most melodious and beautiful. As people say, language is the soul of the nation, and in this case, it is 100% true. In both countries, people love life, are open, appreciate their freedom and are very friendly to other nationalities. Maybe that is why French and Ukrainians usually get along so well! Ukrainians are keen to learn foreign languages and explore other cultures, and French is one of the most popular foreign languages to learn here. The French Institute in Ukraine, Alliance Française network, International French School and numerous other schools and courses in Kiev offer you a comprehensive and entertaining program of learning not only Molière and Voltaire’s language, but also discovering modern French culture and lifestyle.
Kiev is located on the banks of the Dnieper, Paris on the bank of the Seine. Both capitals can be proud of their greenery and good combination of nature and beautiful architecture. No wonder that in both cities people are used to walking a lot, which is very comfortable as streets are wide with comfortable pedestrian zones (which is seldom found in Europe)!
Andriyivsky Descent is often compared to the French Montmartre. What do these nice streets have in common? Both are located along a hill and are decorated with beautiful churches, art galleries and souvenir shops. The many strolling tourists are fascinated by the unique creative atmosphere, made by artists and handicraftsmen, the main inhabitants of these streets. In 2013, members of the French syndicate “Republic of Montmartre” came to Kiev and arranged a collaboration. They commented that Kiev is a progressive European city, and it was especially pleasant for them to open it for French people. Since then grapes brought from Montmartre have been growing on Andriyivsky Descent, whereas the reduced copy of a fantastic cat from Kiev’s Peyzazhna Alley was installed in the most popular district in Paris.
No doubt that another common feature for both Parisian and Kievans is love of good food, wine and rest with pleasure… Locals preserve and develop their own cuisine, which will offer you real culinary masterpieces! In addition, both cities are just packed with restaurants of all the cuisines of the world, and people love going to restaurants to try something new.
One French day
During the French Spring Festival in April, Kiev is especially full of French spirit! Our team offers you an unforgettable experience to dive into French culture and spend one French day. We have prepared some hints on how to create a French atmosphere in Kiev and feel for one day like a real Parisienne! So here they are:
1. French people are fond of croissants and coffee, and generally start their mornings with this ritual. Do it this way also, and you are already half-French. Moreover, it is important to set the right pace for your day, and a tasty breakfast is a great decision.
2. Switch on French music and go for a walk. Music has a magical property to transport you to another place. Zaz, Lara Fabian, Patricia Kaas and Joe Dassin will all help you to feel yourself near Eiffel Tower or in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. By the way, did you know that Joe Dassin had Ukrainian roots?
3. Visit Kiev’s “Montmartre” and be inspired by its arts and picturesque scenery.
4. Go to the residential complex “Frantsuzkiy Kvartal” and take a picture near the Eiffel Tower copy, located there. Our Kiev installation is not worse than Paris one, perhaps a little bit lower. ☺
5. Visit Institut Français d’Ukraine, where you will have an opportunity to read French books and magazines, communicate with French-speaking people or even choose courses for learning the language of love.
6. It has already become a tradition to stage festivals of French cinematography. These are great occasions to delve into fine points of brilliant films and feel yourself a part of an immense sphere of the arts. Watch for the posters and do not miss the festival!
7. This point is mainly for women, but men can assist them for sure. Go shopping and choose the clothes, which will create an image of a French woman. There are many shops in Kiev, introducing French brands such as Promod, Sisley, Pierre Cardin, Chanel, Dior, Chloé etc.
8. Join French-speaking club, which is usually organized by foreigners or locals who would like to make friends, improve language skills, do something together or share the latest news. You can find more information on www. couchsurfing.com/events or www.meetup.com.
9. Have dinner at a French restaurant. Imagine yourself with a glass of wine, tasting exquisite cheese and other delicious dishes and enjoying light, relaxing music. You are sitting on a terrace in Paris, aren’t you?
10. Visit one of the wide variety of events at the French Spring Festival, which includes attractions in very different spheres — science, painting, literature, music, theatre. A good choice would be the concert of the Benjamin Faugloire Project, which will take place in Kiev on 5 April with a fascinating elegant jazz with energy of rock, Parisian charm and warm colors of the southern Marseille. One French reviewer claimed that their music “can make you feel younger.” Come and check it yourself!
It does not matter whether you are in Paris or Kiev… if everything blossoms inside of you, jazz melodies play in your head and there are some more croissants for breakfast
— the Spring Has Come!
Vive la France! Vive l’Ukraine!