253: 36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life
Monday June 3, 2019

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“I firmly believe that it’s the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary.” —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living

Sixteen years French chef Robert Arbor released a book that offers a personal glimpse into his everyday routines which adhere to the French’s simple approach to living well. With time split between living in Connecticutt and living in a country home in Flaujac-Poujol, France, with his wife and two sons, he shares how the secrets of the French are really quite simple when it comes to elevating the everyday.

Yes, it took me far too long to pick up this book, but as soon as I did, his words were music to my ears as he too celebrates and revels in the everyday routines, cultivate seemingly simple rituals that are savored and deeply appreciated. A way of life that is inspired by his own upbringing in Fontainebleau, France, just outside of Paris.

Many readers recommended Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living and many readers have shared they return to read this book often to reminders of how to slow down and savor the lives they have worked so hard to have the opportunity to live. Joie de Vivre is a gem of a resource for reminding ourselves of the beauty of life – understanding that our lives are made up everydays is all we need to do to recognize and embrace a truly contented life.

While I will certainly be picking up the book many times more in the future, having highlighted and annotated heavily throughout, I wanted to share 36 ideas Arbor shares in the book as an introduction to how grand the everyday can be, and how it truly is quite simple.

~Be sure to tune in and listen to the podcast episode and more discussion on each point is shared.

1.Breakfast – enjoy alone and make it nice or with a very close friend, someone you like – make it your personal time of the day.

2. Savor the buttery goodness of a croissant on weekend or for special occasions

~TSLL’s homemade croissant recipe~

3. Cloth napkins for everyday dining

4. Cultivate a routine you enjoy around your breakfast and morning “to give a quick thought to each day’s potential”.

5. Cultivate your own potager (vegetable garden) to “grow a few things to eat fresh”. And only grow what you love to eat and share.

6. Disperse flowers throughout your potager, let go of perfection and separation.

7. Place your fresh, delicate vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, courgettes, most fruit) in a compote on the kitchen counter to be reminded to use them immediately (or very soon).

“A big part of comprehending joie de vivre is understanding that enjoyment in day-to-day life is the true key to happiness. Finding happiness in small things means that ordinary days are filled with pleasures rather than obligations. Joyful anticipation of life’s everyday events is part of bringing joie de vivre into your home in a lasting way.”

8. Grow your own garden of herbs

9. Make food shopping enjoyable – visit a special shop, a farm stand or make it a social engagement.

10. Enjoy good, seasonal food and revel in it.

11. Welcome cheese into your eating regimen

12. Regularly frequent le marché in your area when available

“Great food and ingredients can be found anywhere. One just has to make more of an effort and decide on a lifestyle choice about the quality of the food.”

~All You Need to Know About the Markets in Provence

13. Make the kitchen the center of the house, but it need not be state-of-the-art.

14. No need to spend a lot of money to have a pleasant workable kitchen – regular height chairs, let go of the high stools, so you can relax and enjoy conversation – sitting back, etc. Only purchase the equipment you will actually use and buy quality items that will last. Here are a few ideas: 3-4 pots with lids, a cast iron skillet (keep it seasoned), a teakettle on the stove for boiling water, a Dutch oven or cocotte, but again, only tools you will need for the food you and your household enjoy eating.

~Why Not . . . Use Simple Changes to Transform Your Kitchen?

15. Have the basic cooking utensils stocked in your kitchen so no matter what the season, you can make what you enjoy: 3 sharpened knives (paring, chef’s and serrated), 2 cutting boards, earthenware jugs full of different wooden spoons and spatulas, a stainless-steel spoon and 8-oz ladle, perforated stainless steel spoon, tongs, a whisk, 3 graduated mixing bowls, a fine mesh strainer, hot mitts, a hand-cranked can opener, cork screw, cotton kitchen towels, and a scale, measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin if you are a baker.

~A Cook’s Kitchen (necessary utensils)

~A Baker’s Kitchen (necessary utensils)

16. A well stocked épicerie (pantry) with top-grade items (In TSLL’s 2nd book, an entire chapter breaks down how to step into your kitchen and enjoy the everyday meals)

17. Tidy your kitchen as you go to make the space a place you enjoy stepping into each time.

18. Lengthen and deepen (full and satiating) your midday meal as much as possible.

“This is a time for stepping away from your work — even if you are eating with your coworkers—and talking and thinking about something else . . . Whatever the company, the conversation is always pleasant and positive. And that, naturally, adds to the pleasure and anticipation of lunch. It is a real break from the rest of the day. Le déjeuner is not about using time, it is about taking time.”

19. Enjoy a picnic and make it comfortable

“I do love a picnic in the French style, which, of course, means comfort, comfort and more comfort. First of all, a French person is simply not going to eat on the ground. Although we might lounge around on a blanket later, it is much butter to eat sitting up.”

20. Reserve Sunday to enjoy a big Sunday lunch, focusing on pleasure rather than obligation.

21. And grab that nap after the lengthy lunch to add regular moments of rejuventation .

“Remind yourself that sometimes the best ideas and solutions rise to the surface when you’re not thinking so hard.”

22. Grab an afternoon break regularly with la pause gourmande to give yourself a treat – “a treat with a purpose” and offer the perfect solution to the “afternoon blahs”.

23. Enjoy dinner in the dining room regularly and offer the opportunity for everyone to contribute (whether by setting the table, etc.) somehow.

24. Unwind after dinner with a little dessert treat (nothing too grand), and partaking in something you enjoy on your own or with others so that you can go to bed happy and content.

25. Share dinner with friends with a casual dinner party – only invite people you truly like and don’t “overstretch yourself”.

~10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from My last Dinner Party, episode #235

26. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere, which means you need to be able to be relaxed and enjoy the evening as well. The goal: good food, good conversation and good fun.

27. Begin with apéritifs – small nibbles and drinks.

28. Have very small groups of flowers on the table to create a welcome, but not cumbersome table to sit around and enjoy the meal.

29. Add candles to the dinner table either in glass hurricanes, or small tea lights spread around the tabletop.

30. Add a low volume lyric-less music to the background, as the conversation amongst friends is the best music.

31. Enjoy cheese and a vinaigrette dressed salad course after the main course prior to dessert.

32. Add water to the meal to be enjoyed while enjoying glasses of wine with each course.

33. Dessert need not be homemade when you have a favorite local patisserie.

34. Savor the winding down at the end of the day and do not skip this important part of each day. Cultivate a pleasant ritual, perhaps a different one for each season.

35. Make lavender-scented linen water to add an inviting scent to your bed linens.

36. Enjoy a good night’s sleep

“Americans are fascinated with how the French manage to live so well, and so contentedly, in their ordinary, day-to-day life. It’s not just about cooking, decorating, or entertaining — it’s about enjoying all the small details of domestic life.” —Robert Arbor

May your everydays be full of simple pleasures and moments of joy as well as you remember how extraordinary your life already is at this very moment.

~Order Robert Arbor’s book Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living


~14 Ways to Eat Like the French —Savor Good Food, Don’t Fear It, episode #175

~20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everydays, episode #144

~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life, episode #23

~View all French-Inspired podcast episodes here

Petit Plaisir

~Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent)

~Images: TSLL Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife)

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Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

18 thoughts on “253: 36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life

  1. So many enjoyable suggestions, Shannon! And I’m always thankful for your book recommendations. I just requested Robert Arbor’s book from our local library, and when it arrives, I’ll enjoy a nice walk over on my lunch break to retrieve it. Two of life’s pleasures – walking and reading – in one trip. Bliss!

  2. I have had this book for many years, and, yes, I return to it often to soothe and remind me of the importance of everyday living.

  3. What a great podcast and post !
    Thank you so much Shannon, it has been a delight to listen to and read .
    I’m looking forward to reading Joie de Vivre, so many lovely ideas ?
    Have a wonderful week.

  4. Hi Shannon, really enjoyed your podcast today right before I went out to work in my garden. I felt inspired and created some beautiful containers if I do say so myself. Your podcasts are so nicely written and presented. I would give today’s a five star rating. Thank you for recommending Call My Agent. I just started watching and will really enjoy it over the summer. You recommended another movie that I thoroughly enjoyed with Kate Winslet called A Little Chaos. It was charming. Last week I saw a newly released French movie called Non-Fiction or Doubles Vies with Juliette Binoche. If you like French movies I think you will like this. It.is a lovely end-of-Spring day here in south Jersey. Got to get back to my garden. Look forward to hearing your next podcast. Thanks again for the inspiration.

    1. Bonnie, I have no doubt your containers look splendid. 🙂 What a lovely way to spend part of the day – outside with hands in the dirt curating beauty. 🙂 I am so happy to hear you enjoyed this week’s episode and I think you will delight in Call My Agent. Per last week’s sharing of Juliette Binoche’s new film Non-Fiction, I am excited even more with your recommendation to see it. Thank you so much ch for sharing. 🙂 Have a wonderful week! And thank you for visiting the blog!

  5. Love Robert Arbor’s book!! It’s actually in my nightstand right now!! It’s a treat to read!! I love your reminders and plan to implement as many as possible, right away!

  6. Call My Agent is just so darn cute! I’m really enjoying it. I’m into the second season now. I’ve been working on learning French for more than a few years now. It must be because of your influence, Shannon❣️ As a later in life project, I started learning Italian first on Duolingo, but now I’m hooked on French!! Merci beaucoup!

  7. Sounds a good read. I am truly lucky to be experiencing a slice of joie de vivre (just saying it makes one smile) and although I savoured the little delights in life before it’s more enhanced now that I am living in France. Just a small point there isn’t any background music when we have guests or when our French friends entertain in our coin. Animated conversation is music enough?

  8. As a long-time Francophile, I’ve owned this book for many years, and have a number of pages marked for recipes that I particularly like. But, after listening to your podcast, I realized that it’s probably time to reread it, as several points haven’t stayed with me as well as they should have.

    Thank you for the reminder!

  9. Thank you for recommending Call My Agent! I just loved the series (I finished the 3 seasons in about a week….let’s not judge too harshly) I just loved the character development and pace of the show. The cameos on the show was also tre exquisite!

    I learned French at school, and it was such a joy to hear the language again. I especially loved the American speaking French at the end. It was hilarious. If you have similar shows that you would recommend, or French singers that you like, please share more on your podcast.

    1. No judgement from me! I too. I fed it quite quickly for all of the reasons you shared. 🙂 So happy to hear you enjoyed! I will be sure to share more French shows as I find them. In the meantime, check out episode #248 for 12 French films I enjoyed. 🙂 ??❤️

  10. I have had this book for several years and absolutely love it. I resonate with everything and reference it. It is like coming back to an old friend.

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