Three French Grandmas Share Their Life Wisdom

Mamy Colette
 

Her name is Colette. She was born ninety years ago today.

She became the passionate wife of a passionate man, the mother of four, and lived life a blond bombshell with the softest bosom in which she would smother her nine grandchildren to love them more, always more.

I was lucky enough to be one of them.

Colette has a mean sweet tooth and can’t be talked to until she’s had her morning coffee.

An accomplished baker, she understood that the finer things in life are the ones you make yourself with those you love. Memories of growing up around Mamy are forever conjuring the smells of flour, red currants, and melted sugar.

She knew to rub vinegar on my leg when the mean nettles got me.

She chased the dormouse living in my bedroom door frame by frantically waving a pillow at it before putting me to bed in our (haunted!) family castle.

She taught me rhyming songs that don’t exist anymore. We would sing our throats out while skipping down the road to fetch eggs from the local grandma’s chicken coop.

 
Il était une bergère qui allait au marché.
Elle portait sur sa tête trois pommes dans un panier.
Les pommes faisaient rouli roula, les pommes faisaient rouli roula. Stop!

From her I learned to knit. One day she challenged my young mind to consider knitting a blue cape for my Barbie. "But blue is for boys!”, I exclaimed (#facepalm). Nope. Blue would look so fetching on my blond, blue-eyed beauty. She should know, she is one herself.

Her name is Colette. She is ninety years old today. Happy birthday Mamy Coco.

From 3 French grandmas to you

The generation born in the 1920’s and 30’s is fast disappearing, and with them the many things that could only be learned from someone who lived through the Great Depression, a World War, the birth of color TV, man landing on the moon, the rise and fall of the Berlin wall, women’s lib, and the first computers (to name just a few).

Let us immortalize a few precious nuggets of wisdom from three rockin’ French grandmas - which if anything, prove that the concerns don’t change much no matter the age:

Mamy Colette

Mamy Colette a la mer

A few months before I got married, I sat down with Mamy, an espresso and a square of chocolate, and asked the million-dollar question: “What advice can you give me for a long and happy marriage, woman to woman?”

The answer came fast as lightning: “Make yourself pretty every day to keep the fire burning.”

Now THAT was old school. The feminist in me raged a little, while the traditionalist somehow understood. Yet I defied the thought: “Why? Lipstick won’t help keep a husband”.

Cool as a cucumber, she responded as if an evidence: “maybe, but at least you’ll be looking good going through hell.” Apparently, Mamy Coco is the French Elizabeth Taylor.

Mamie Nicole

Mamie Nicole

Maeva’s special lady can teach us a thing or two about looking good. She is impeccable and looks incredibly young for xxx years old (I was told she would kill me if I shared her age publicly).

Oh so very French, she has remained loyal to staple beauty products. She will tell you: “Remove your makeup every night and apply a good moisturizer every day.” (I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. That’s because it’s true!)

Mamie Nicole recommends: Ictyane by Ducray. A classic.

One thing she wishes she’d done differently: apply said moisturizer on the décolletage as well, to keep everything wrinkle free and looking up. I am taking notes.

Mamie Louise

Bénédicte also had a great piece of advice to share her Mamie Louise had once offered. This is a good one. Are you ready?

Wait for it, wait for it…

“Pick a rich one." ("Prends le riche.”)

You can’t say we didn’t warn you. This was just too good not to share.

Grandmas: can’t live without them and who would want to? Dare ask them questions, and love on them daily.

Words: Cécile Charlot. Photos: Cécile Charlot, Camille Pascal, Margot Pascal, Maëva Sedira