When you land in the City of Lights you will be awestruck to gaze upon a place where almost everything seems to have fallen in place. You’ll find structures depicting unparalleled architectural ingenuity, mouth-watering food, and fashion at its best the overall charming culture and above all, the beautiful women. What you may not know is what the beholders of such beauty have endured.

Paris, and by extension France, has been known as the fashion capital of the world, the City of Lights and a plethora of other pseudonyms, due to the creativity of its people and their love of opulence. It then goes without saying that, in a country that is famed for fashion and designs, an immense amount of pressure is put on its female population to “look the part”, as it were.

French beauty routine
A French woman doing her daily beauty routine.

The quintessential vision of French beauty has been referred by some writers as effortless. They are expected to look stunning and put a lot of effort on it, while still maintaining an easy, natural and understated style. Furthermore, it’s not negotiable; the standards have already been set. On the other hand, you may indeed look at it as effortless, since French women themselves have become accustomed to looking this way and it’s now embedded in their blood – a French woman simply has a natural flair for beauty.

French women will be the first to admit that the routine and constant practice to perfect the art of maintaining personal beauty is tough going. They equate beauty to sports where you become a pro after constant practice and hard work.

French makeup artist
A french girl looking great with her huge makeup collection.

French women will tell you their routine starts early; they are taught art and art history early in school. They start being exposed to paintings, architecture, sculptures, beauty, etc. early in life. In fact, parents pass it down to their kids. Even when going out to play with peers, young girls have to go through a detailed beautification process. Young girls’ attire is prepared well in advance to fit the following day’s event and it’s the mother’s duty to make sure their daughters look the part. Once honed, beauty never departs the French woman, even in her later life; you’ll commonly see ladies of 80+ years taking great care of their skin and posture.

Women from this part of the world are also taught not to broadcast what they do to look good to the world. On the other side, the fact that they are taught to take care of themselves for themselves from a tender age, they grow up knowing what’s best for their skin, hair and body, together with the latest fashion trends, which makes it easy for them to handle their own personal beauty, thereby lowering the cost.

But it is not all as glamorous as it looks. Some have come to admit the pressure to look ideal – an ideal most women have not defined for themselves – is sometimes unbearable. One woman admitted to having suffered greatly for beauty; the pressure starts from home and extends out into wider society. She narrates how she had to endure criticism from her mother any time she wanted to be herself and had to revert to the long, arduous process of complying with beauty standards in order to fit in with general society.

So, you may be idolizing a French woman across the street, but you never know what goes behind the scene, or the tears that have been shed for them to look so glamorous.

Every year, the world’s finest female golfers get the chance to put their skills to good use in the LPGA tournaments happening in various corners of the world. To be precise, there are five major LPGA championships today. The tours were founded in the fifties and have evolved several times since then, with the number of tours averaging two to three per year. That time is behind us now; currently there are five annual LPGA championship tours after the Evian Championship joined the league of the most coveted tournaments in women golf in 2013.The other four are the ANA Inspiration, U.S. Women’s Open, Women’s PGA Championship and Women’s British Open.

Prior to becoming the Evian Championship in 2013, the tournament used to be known as the Evian Masters and it was just a regular LPGA stop.  By becoming the fifth LPGA tour championship, it has once again elevated France on the global map, being the only women’s major in continental Europe. It all started in 1994, when Antoine Ribond the founder and former president of Danone, together with his son, thought of creating a platform to showcase golf competitions on the Ladies European Tour (LET). It continued to feature as a major LET destination until 2000 when it became an official LPGA Tour event. The event continued on a growth trajectory with its prize money increasing accordingly. Currently, its purse holds $3.65 million, making it the second-richest in women’s golf after the US Women’s Open, which has prize money of $5 million.

The Evian Championship logoThe Evian Championship is held at the Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-Les-Bains which is one of the most picturesque sceneries at the foot of the Evian Mountain. It has become commonplace for players to gush about the scenery as they stroll the course amid majestic views overlooking Lake Geneva. Suzann Petterson, who was the first major winner immediately after the contest was elevated to the Evian Championship in 2013, could not hold her jubilation at becoming the first winner in an event which she claimed was on the top of her bucket list. She gave her take on the scenery which she referred to as breathtaking, romantic and unique. She noted how it made her feel rejuvenated every time she awoke in the morning, to spend another day in a place surrounded by such stunningly beautiful topography.

Evian Resort Golf club
An event ongoing in the beautiful Evian Resort Golf Club

The event used to take place from June to July but it was pushed back to September upon acquiring its new title, making it the last competition of its kind in the calendar year. This year, women champions are expected to battle it out between September 14th and 17th in the event that is expected to see more than 120 of the best women golfers participate. Last year it saw 120 players start it off, with only 72 surviving to the end. Normally the cut is set at 70 scores, and after the second round, those scoring 70 and below continue to participate in the remaining rounds, with the winner determined at the end of the tournament based on overall performance.

Those scoring above 70 are eliminated after the second round. Last year the competition took place between September 15th and 18th, where South Korean In Gee Chun won with 21 under par and took home more than $520,000 in prize money. She also set a new world record for the lowest score in a major tournament for both genders.

The Evian Championship continues to offer a one-of-a-kind platform for women golfers to showcase their skills on the world stage. Yet again, France features highly as a country of diverse possibilities and a top destination to shop, sport and be entertained.

There are many brands that continue to enter the market since the last century; France, with its deep-rooted culture and creativity is the place to find most of them. Some never managed to stand the test of time while others continue to make headlines as time goes on. Read on to see some of the old brands that have made it over the years and how they are evolving.

Hermès Since 1837

Thierry Hermes started this fashion house in the year 1837, originally making saddles and other equestrian products. History has it that his son Charles made the first Hermes bag which he intended to be used for carrying the main products, saddles. The official handbag as we know it today was first designed in 1922.

Since then, as fresh hands came into the business, so did new innovations; the Birkin bag and Kelly bags followed later which became some of the most successful and famous products made by Hermes. Hermes handbags are still sought after today due to their elegance.

Louis Vuitton Since 1854

louis vuitton logoAnother brand where we can see new innovations as a result of fresh hands and eyes is Loius Vuitton. Started by Louis Vuitton in 1854 in a workshop where he made trunk and packaging materials, he progressed to making revolutionary trunks using canvas. Later his son George was to join where he made keep all, the first of their line of bags. What followed was Speedy, then Noe, Alma and the rest. Today Louis Vuitton is in 50 countries with over 460 stores.

Lanvin Since 1889

Lanvin logoJeanne Lavin started her career as a hat maker where she had her own atelier in Paris. Being a talented seamstress, she made very beautiful clothes for her daughter which caught the attention of the neighborhood elite. She could not disappoint this small group of fans after receiving requests to dress them and their children, and she started making copies. Eventually, her brand Lanvin started diversifying to mothers’ dresses as well and later to menswear, fur, and lingerie. The brand still maintains a high position in the fashion world and has transferred to various owners of late. For instance, Orcofi Group managed it until 1996 when it was sold to L’Oréal and later transferred to Shaw-Lan Wang in 2001.

Chanel Since 1909

Chanel logoAnother old brand which has stood the test of time is Chanel. After the death of her mother, Gabrielle Chanel was taken to an orphanage where she was taught how to sew by the nuns. She would later use the skills she had learned to open her first store in 1910 where she started by making hats, before venturing into women’s clothing later on. Her revolutionary and timeless designs are still sought out today, even after the business fell into new French hands. Currently, Chanel is run by the grandsons of her partner Pierre Wertheimer, Alain and Gerard.

Yves Saint Laurent Since 1961

Yves Saint Laurent logoAnother classic French brand is Yves Saint Laurent which was invented in 1961 and has seen various transformations through the ages. The brand is named after the founding artist Yves Saint Laurent who started his career in drawings at the early age of 17. When at fashion school he met Christian Dior, and was recruited to Dior’s fashion house where he worked for many years. He would later start his own fashion house in 1961 where he came up with the iconic brand ‘Le Smoking’. The famous jump suit and sheer blouse were to follow later.

The brand has come to take the name Saint Laurent as part of the changes that came into effect as management changed hands. The latest news is that in 2016, Anthony Vaccarello took over as creative director, succeeding Hedi Slimane.

Much is happening to old brands in France, but even though there could be a change of guard, the brands continue to trend high in the industry, defying the odds and keeping true to their French culture. You can also read further on the country’s best vintage clothing stores as defined by The Culture Trip.

France is home to extravagant talent spread across fashion, art, music and countless other disciplines. When summer arrives, festival lovers descend on France to attend the many eclectic music festivals. Here is the list of must-attend summer music festivals.

Sakifo At Saint Piere

2nd -4th June 2017

From its inception in 2004, this three-day event is held across six different stages, celebrating all the different genres of music. This usually provides the perfect opportunity for artists and consumers of art to mingle. It’s the perfect time to celebrate both music and culture.

Hellfest At Clisson, Loire Atlantique

16th -18th June 2017

HellfestIf hard rock is your thing, you should definitely head to Clisson for three days where you will be treated to a variety of heavy metal music like you’ve never heard before. And if you are a beginner, you will be in the best place to learn what it means to love metal, as you come face-to-face with artists who have perfected their skills in the field.

Up to seven stages are live at any given moment and you can choose either to remain in one particular location, or to sample what’s happening from all the stages.

The dress code is usually wild and out of this world – prepare to be creative.

Nimes Festival At The Arena Of Nimes

20th June -21st July 2017

This is another festival that brings together rock and contemporary music lovers for one month. Held at the historic city of Nimes, close to 20 artists converge here to entertain and celebrate their art. This event has been held courtesy of the city of Nimes, in collaboration with FM Productions, since its inception in 1997.

Solidays At Paris

23rd -25th July 2017

Solidays at ParisThe Solidays festival is one of a kind, from the huge crowd gathered to the cause being championed. I mean just that, because every year people have found it necessary to gather for entertainment, while still making it a cause to stand in solidarity in the fight against AIDS.

Close to 3,000 volunteers and 160 artists come to Paris every year to make this event happen, and it never disappoints, attracting over 150,000 revelers joining hands to make the event a success.

Garorock Festival At Marmande

30th June -2nd July 2017

Garorock Festival At MarmandeSince 1997, lovers of rock and electronic music gather here for three days of performances, which start every day from noon and go on until the small hours of the following morning. Experienced artists and emerging talent come to this festival to showcase their creativity.

Main Square Festival In Arras, Vauban Citadel

30th June -2nd July 2017

This is another important three-day event which has been running since 2004. People converge at Vauban to celebrate rock, pop, hip-hop and electro, and with more than 40 concerts running over the course of the event, international and local artists come here to leave a mark.

Calvi On The Rocks In Calvi

30th June -5th July 2017

In Calvi, people gather for six days every year, to celebrate and appreciate culture – this year it won’t be different. Various activities including electronic music, artistic performances and Corsican traditions that are held in various places within the city, its beaches and citadel.

In the afternoons, you can experience blistering sets from the world’s top DJ’s on Calvi’s beaches, while in the evenings you could attend performances at the outdoor Theatre de Verdure or relax at the harbor.

Carcassonne Festival In Carcassonne

1st -30th July 2017

Carcassonne Festival In CarcassonneBig names in music like Elton John, Deep Purple and Indochine are known to entertain an eager crowd of close to 260,000 here at Carcassonne City. A perfect blend of local and international artists is made up of over 100 performers, who keep the electrified crowd on their toes, chanting their hearts out, while putting their best foot forward.

Performances are held at the famous La Fajeolle Main Stage, the Jean-Deschamps Theatre or at the Count’s Castle in the city.

Les Eurockéennes Festival In Sermamagny

6th -9th July 2017

I don’t think there is any outdoor event that can measure up to this one. Since 1989, this festival has never disappointed. It seems like everything has fallen into place to provide the 100,000+ party animals who attend this event an experience like no other. The beautiful location, which is only a short distance from Belfort and surrounded by hills and lakes, makes it the perfect place for those who treasure good times. Usually, there are four stages with live bands performing their hits, with all different genres of music well represented.

Terres Du Son In Monts

7th -9th July 2017

This out-of-town event is packaged to entertain and champion the protection of the environment and sustainable development. This does not mean that it’s short of great entertainment, because lovers of pop, reggae, rock and a mix of other types of music are left begging for more after enjoying over 72 hours of nothing but the best of modern music.

Francofolies In La Rochelle

12th -16th July 2017

This is a perfect opportunity for young talent to learn from experienced artists. The event, which is known to offer contemporary French songs and music, gives emerging artists a platform to showcase their talent and get advice and guidance from their peers. You mustn’t miss the opportunity to listen to what these new artists have to offer.

Beauregard Festival In Normandy

7th -9th July

Since 2009, Chateau de Beauregard comes alive with people flocking from all over Europe. Rock lovers cannot afford to miss the electrifying moments at this alternative festival, which brings together rock ‘n’ roll die-hards for an amazing three-day leg-shaking experience. This year I am told it will be a blast.

La Route Du Rock In Saint-Malo

17th -20th August 2017

Two placesLa Route Du Rock In Saint-Malo logo in Saint-Malo are a hive of activity every year when the world descends on them for a special demonstration of what independent music thinkers have to offer. In summer and winter each year, Fort Saint-Pere and Bon Secours Beach are the places to be. The special thing about this event is its unique theme of holding an open-minded musical festival, driven by creativity. Always full to capacity, people arrive here in droves to enjoy a one-of-a-kind festival like nothing they’ve ever experienced.

Rock En Seine In Saint Cloud

25th -27th August 2017

There has never been a better way to close the summer season than to see it out at Saint Cloud. Every year at the end of August, over 100,000 people gather in Paris with vigor, as if to thank the gods of summer. The energy experienced in this four-day event is out of this world. Popular French music comprising of pop, rock and electro is played in the historic gardens, as revellers from local and international communities gather to dance and enjoy nature.

Les Nuits De Nacre In Tulle

14th -16th August 2017

One of the instruments that has helped to shape the world of music is the accordion. France ensure this iconic instrument’s contribution won’t die out, by putting it on every corner of every street for four days, during which different genres of music fill the air. This is a crucial cultural event dedicated to the accordion, holding more than 90 concerts free of charge.

As you can see, its talent galore in France, and there are countless festivals where you can have a blast during summertime. These festivals happen every year, so if you missed out this year, don’t sweat it – next year is waiting for you!

Mention the word Paris, and one thing comes to mind – fashion. And if you search deeper to find out why it has retained the name as the fashion capital of the world, despite other cities like New York, Milan and London clamoring for the title, you’ll find a long history dating several centuries back, of resilient personalities who were doing everything to keep on top of the fashion industry. France and creativity are one and the same thing. Most of the world’s biggest artists whether it be in music, fashion, sculpture – you name it – they all have some roots in Paris. Read on to find out why Paris is deemed synonymous with fashion.

Lavishly dressed King Louis XIV
Lavishly dressed King Louis XIV

Back in the 17th century, France was reigned over by King Louis XIV. He had a lavish taste, looking back at the way he dressed and some of the exquisite architecture he commissioned like the Palace of Versailles. His love for luxury caused him to bring forth a number of artistic industries which included the textile trade. These industries were under the control of the loyal court which became the worldwide jury of style. Since then, Paris has been frequented by the heavyweights of the fashion industry, which has seen it earn the title of the fashion capital of the world, and the highest quality of fabric and materials come from there.

But the phrase “fashion design” was not known until the 1850s. Charles Fredrick is credited with inventing fashion design when he came up with a brand and put his label on the clothes he designed. He had a shop in Paris, where he enjoyed a lot of success. He could dictate to his customers what to wear which was totally contrary to the tailors then, who could be ordered to make anything their customers desired. In fact, the word couturier (fitting clothing) was created to describe him.

Haute Couture was to follow and flourish as the demand for fitting clothes swelled in the 19th century. Tailors and seamstresses established their shops in Paris and, like Charles Frederick, other fashion houses followed, including Madeline Vionnet and Paul Poiret among others. Paris hasn’t turned away from fashion since.

Other notable fashion houses of the early 1920s like Coco Chanel put a new dimension on the industry. She came with a new trending fashion for women’s’ undergarments by sewing free-flowing designs, unsheathing women from the painful corsets which were commonplace at the time, and would manipulate a woman’s upper body. Coco Chanel is still a household name in the fashion industry today.

Christian Dior product tag
A Christian Dior product tag

But the industry faced a setback during World War II when many fashion houses were forced to close their shops. America captured that moment to try and shift focus from France to American designers, and names like Claire McCardell came up. But since fashion runs in the blood of Parisian designers, they had to reclaim their position. Designers like Christian Dior hit back with irresistible designs which sent fashion-hungry people fleeing back to Paris. The ‘new look’ fashions by Christian Dior came during a post-war period when textiles were in short supply and making clothes required a great detail of fabric, but it sailed to success due to its feminine and elegant silhouette.

Paris has travelled along a strong growth trajectory in the fashion world, and in the 20th century, many other fashion houses started coming up. You’ll find the likes of Pierre Balmain and Hubert De Givenchy among many others made their base in Paris and sprouted to other parts of the world. Competition has been stiff of late, and many cities are trying to steal the show from Paris, but they have a long way to go as fashion remains deep-rooted in the heart of the city.

The list of top-notch designers continues to expand, making Paris a shopper’s paradise and the fashion capital of the world. You cannot mention fashion and not think of Paris – that’s why Paris is truly synonymous with fashion.