I have been desperately searching after my lost French culture recently. I grew up in Paris, and maintained my French language (and some culture) through French classes through high school and college, along with yearly week-long trips to Paris to visit old friends. Recently, however, rien. My busy life in journalism school, then working full time, have provided limited time for practicing my French, and it is truly insane (no matter how many times you hear it) how fast you can lose a language. Of course, it is possible to get it back (and mine is not totally lost.. I just have quite embarrassing, incoherent, fumbling-for-words moments), but not without some hard work.
Anywho, the most accessible trove of French culture in the city is, unsurprisingly, the Alliance Française. It is on the Upper East Side, and they have a delightfully modern, aesthetically-pleasing and organized website highlighting all of their weekly events and group activities, of which there are many. I have not become a member yet, mostly because I am too broke to even bear looking at my bank account at the moment (even though the membership is VERY affordable – don’t let this deter you). But I felt I could afford the $10 student ticket to a talk that took place last Wednesday. It was discussion and book signing with French fashion designer Catherine Malandrino, who just came out with a book called “Une Femme Française: The Seductive Style of French Women.” In it, from what I gathered (the talk was in English, but jumped around a bit), she discusses femininity, the very real distinctions between the French woman and the American one, and what it takes to cultivate a French, seductive lifestyle.