La Belle Ecole, Paris
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Pascale Viallard developed the art of French living for foreigners. In 2013, she re-engaged herself in “La Belle Ecole” which was established in 2004. The art of French living revolves around the art of tasting and cooking, floral art, the art of elegance, design, and good manners.
Sébastien Talon is a professor at “La Belle Ecole”. Currently working in psychopathology and transcultural research, he has studied manners in order to understand the issues of power around this everyday and yet sensitive subject.
The Meurice hotel and the Martinez hotel have appealed to La Belle Ecole to educate their teams.
"Lettuce is not cut with a knife. In France you must generally use the knife as little as possible. It is only used to cut meat, and possibly cheese if there is no cheese knife. Foie gras is eaten with a fork, for example. "
If someone tells him "bless you" when he sneezes, "I respond with, 'thank you'. And when someone else sneezes, I say nothing at all, because we do not remark on a bodily function. "
To speak about the art of French living to a foreigner "is to explain what the lifestyle of the gourmet is, as well as politeness, in view of the art of enjoyment in society. "And to speak about it to a child," is say that these are the rules of the game that they will need to play their entire life. "
When his tablemate wishes him "bon appetit", he replies "thank you", and changes the subject of conversation.
According to Sébastien Talon, lacking in manners " is serious, because it is disrespectful to others. But it is even more serious to note that another is lacking in their own manners."
Schools of the art of French living are developing abroad for reasons that are rather similar to why they are developing in France.
There has been a break in the traditional and family means of transmitting these customs. A need has therefore emerged, and schools have brought into neutral spaces these modes of life, thus allowing the art of French living to become accessible.
"Faced with someone who is uncomfortable because they have little knowledge of customs in the context of a chic restaurant and who whithout understanding drinks her fingerbowl, to do the same is an example of good manners."
Sébastien Talon explains, "The idea of good manners is to never point out a mistake in public and do everything so that the guest is never comfortable. To demonstrate manners is not to highlight the faults of others or one's own merits."
The customer of La Belle Ecole is "everyone, from the CEO of large new technology groups, to newly-graduated Cabinet directors whose grand universities have not taught them the codes of living, to nurses, to the unemployed seeking to improve themselves in light of a hopeful reintegration to the workforce, and foreigners in search of an understanding of their new society. "
"Good manners are a part of the art of French living, and in fact an essential component. Unlike other countries, where this knowledge will pass through other channels, in France since the time of Louis XIV, though having evolved without ever disappearing, manners make up a part of community life and of the private sphere of French gastronomy.
UNESCO classifies gastronomy as an intangible heritage. It is not as much the recipes that are written as it is the rites themselves which have been classified and recognized as special. "
At La Belle Ecole, we learn the art of French living. From the tasting, to the cooking, passing through manners, so to speak, to taste and consume a good dish ...
As shown in the famous cinematic piece, "Le Souper, concerning cognac: we heat it, we smell it, we observe it, we pause, and then we discuss it. "
To speak about something, one must know the tastes and the etiquette around it in order to speak with elegance.
When a hostess offers orange juice to their guests after dinner, they are speaking in code. The guests understand that it is time to leave ... "