Are the French masters at self-promotion, or is there really something behind the bravado? From gastronomy to fashion, not to mention the art of seduction, they’ve always been one step ahead. Effortlessly slim despite scoffing butter-laden croissants and knocking back gallons of wine, chic to a fault without even trying – it’s enough to drive you crazy, if you let it.

So how do they pull it off and, more importantly, how can we mere mortals get in on the action? Well, according to insiders and double agents, Frédérique Veysset and Valérie de Saint-Pierre, it’s a matter of ‘dividing (into sub-groups) and conquering’.

In this tongue-in-cheek guide to ultimate Frenchness, the savvy duo break down the populace into tribes – aristo chic, eco-warriors, vintage bourgeois etc. – track them in their natural habitat, checking off in the process wardrobe essentials, dining etiquette and trendy watering holes, to unlock the secrets of la vie en rose.

Ze French Do It Better: A Lifestyle Guide, by Frédérique Veysset and Valérie de Saint-Pierre, list price £16.95 / $25, published by Flammarion

From France Today magazine. Access more book reviews here.

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