Enjoy 24h in the life of a Parisian mom! Stroll through the City of Lights and follow the daily adventures of a stylish mother and her daughters from morning until evening : du matin à l’après-midi up until la soirée. Discover all about the art of living in France and learn a couple of new French words along the way!

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

The illustrated book "Maman & Moi" is a playful rhyming tale for every chic Mom who has ever walked the streets of Paris with her littles ones....or even just dreamed of doing so! Written by the acclaimed fashion artist and former Paris resident, Nicole Jarecz, the book explores typical daily life Parisian moments. Cozy up with un café and join us in Paris.

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

The book can be purchased straight from our Parisian children's clothing boutique L'Île aux Fées or ordered online here and shipped worldwide.

To allow you to dive into the spirit of the book, get to know the author and benefit from her tips about Paris, Nicole Jarecz kindly agreed to answer our questions.

Can you briefly present yourself and your family?

Bonjour! My name is Nicole Jarecz and I am a fashion artist from Detroit, Michigan. I am also a graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit where I studied Illustration with a focus on fashion. This is where I met my husband, Kevin, with whom I moved to Paris in 2010 to start our life together. I instantly fell in love with the French culture, food, history and architecture in Paris. It was such an inspiring time in my life!

Now we are parents to two girls, Ella and Claire and back in Michigan. I am proud of the fact that we are a French-American family and have the opportunity to travel between the United States and France.

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

Could you please tell us about your career?

I started as a freelance illustrator in 2010. Through my agency, Colagene Paris, I had the opportunity to work for many French fashion magazines such as Madame Figaro and Glamour. 

My career took a pause when I became a first time mom in Paris to my daughter Ella. I'm so happy I took that break to focus on her. Do you remember the feeling of being a first time mom and being completely in love with your baby? I will never regret those days when I slowed down just to be a mom.

Life as French mom in Paris art of living art de vivre

I then felt ready to work again when my family moved back to Detroit. Suddenly everything felt possible. I was surrounded by a tight knit community of people interested in fashion. This is where my live sketching events really took off. I was the first illustrator in Detroit to offer fashion sketching for luxury brands and private events. I've since had the opportunity to work and travel for top luxury brands such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, and Diptyque. Live sketching allows me to connect with potential clients in a new way. Before I would sit behind a desk and now I am able to actually be around like minded people. It's such a blessing to share my love of fashion illustration with the world!

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

What inspired you to write this book?

I've had numerous book offers throughout the years but none of them felt right. I believe that if you take the time to illustrate a book then it should speak to you. It's something that can not be forced. 

So finally, after all these years of being an illustrator I decided to create my own book. "Maman et Moi" was inspired by my time as a young Mom in Paris. I wrote it in a lighthearted and playful tone. The rhymes in English include French words in the mix with the translation at the bottom of each page. My goal was to create a fun rhyming tale for children (and adults) to learn a bit of French.

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

You lived in Paris between 2010-2015. What would your three top tips be for an American moving to Paris?

  1. Find help 

It helps having a French husband haha! I have to say I was very lucky to have him as a support and best friend. He was already established in Paris, knew all about the French paperwork and was by my side when I was feeling down or lonely. 

If you are making a move by yourself, I recommend finding a friend or a shoulder to lean on. While I was in Paris I joined the American Women's Group in Paris. This was a great starting point for me to make some friends of my own and to have that sense of community which is absolutely key.

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

  1. Pack a suitcase and go!

When I moved to Paris I was only 22 years old. I didn't have much so all I had to do was pack a suitcase of belongings and go. I think these moves get harder once you have a family. When we moved back to the United States we moved with eight large suitcases! Most people I know would move with a container full of stuff. 

If you really want to make the move just try to remember that less is more. Hang on to the special items but remember that everything else can be purchased in Paris.

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

  1. Learn French! 

I realise that this is different for everyone. When I moved to Paris I didn't know one word of French. Think of "Emily in Paris"...that was me! Even though my husband was French, we always spoke to each other in English and just couldn't make the switch. I feel like once you start speaking to someone in whatever language that may be, then that language seems to stick. 

I was forced to learn on my own so I took a French class to learn the basics at La Sorbonne. I watched a ton of movies in French with French subtitles. I read French books and would translate words in a journal I kept. I remember purchasing many French grammar books from Gibert Joseph on Boulevard Saint-Michel. Whatever works for you! Even though most people in Paris speak English you still want to learn the language to be immersed in the culture.

What image comes to mind when evoking the French art de vivre?

I envision a slow day with no worries. The French art de vivre to me is so many simple pleasures in life that we don't have in the United States. It's walking to your local boulangerie and enjoying the smell of fresh baked baguettes. It's taking time to sit at a table together to enjoy a meal and not look at the time pass. In Paris you can sit and stop at one of the hundreds of terraces to take a pause in your day, grab "un café" and watch the people walk by. It's getting lost in the city and not knowing where the next turn will take you : la flânerie parisienne.

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

The art de vivre can not be bought. It is a feeling. It is an emotion and a discovery. It is something that the French do best and if you've ever been to France then you are lucky enough to know what I mean.

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

What is your favourite neighborhood in Paris?

This is a hard one because there are so many areas that I love in Paris for different reasons. When I was living in Paris I loved to be in Le Marais because of its narrow streets and many boutiques and bars. It has an almost village feel, magnificent architecture and rich history too. We would take many walks through le Marais on the weekends. One of my greatest memories is walking by myself on a weekday evening. I was Christmas shopping and all of a sudden it started snowing...a lot! The people seemed to disappear in an instant and I felt like I was the only one walking the beautiful snow covered streets. It was the most beautiful time I can remember being in Paris. 

Another area I love to explore is Saint Germain Des Prés on the Left Bank. The bars are beautiful and I love walking the streets lined with art galleries that eventually take you to the river Seine!

What is your favourite restaurant/café in Paris?

My favorite restaurant is actually just outside of Paris in Issy-les-Moulineaux. It's a restaurant on a boat by the Parc de L'Ile Saint-Germain called "L'île" on the banks of the river. With its cosy and welcoming country house feel, it’s a lovely place to relax in and spend time as a family. They are very kid friendly too. The healthy fresh French food is delicious too.

I've learned that you can never go wrong with any brasserie in Paris. You will always eat well! To have a drink, I love to go to the Place du Marche Saint-Honoré. It's a beautiful square market area just off of the famous Rue Saint-Honoré. There are a ton of nice restaurants/bars to enjoy a drink. 

L'ile family friendly restaurant in Paris with kids

What is your favourite garden in Paris?

I think my favorite garden in Paris is Le Jardin du Luxembourg. There are many things for children to do here such as the traditional merry-go-round, pony rides and sailing toy boats in the central pond. All very charming. We used to make our way to this garden on warm days to sit under the trees. 

Paris most beautiful garden jardin du Luxembourg

Another favorite garden of mine is L'Île Saint-Germain. I used to walk to this park every day when I was a mom in Paris with my first daughter, Ella, so it holds a lot of special memories for me. There is a playground for the kids and a beautiful trail around the park. It's an island in the middle of Paris making it a very peaceful retreat if you need to escape the city for a while. 

What is your favourite French saying?

I have a couple of favorite French words which I think sound so cute! The first is "Pamplemousse" meaning grapefruit. I have adored this word since the much that my husband has nicknamed me "Pamplemousse". 

Another favorite French word of mine is "Chouchou" which is a fun word for "darling". Of course I call my husband "chouchou". And last but not least I love the phrase, "La vie en rose" because who doesn't love to learn French through the songs of Edith Piaf? 

You have two girls! How do you balance work and family life?

My girls are older now. They are 10 and 8 years old so it is easier than it used to be. While they are in school I work from home. I make time to do my live sketching events on the weekends. It's great being freelance because I can choose what jobs I want to take on and which ones I don't want to take part in. Because of this I'm able to balance being a stay at home mom and freelance illustrator. 

When my girls were younger and not in school it was more difficult. I would wake up very early or stay up late to complete projects. I worked a lot less because I wanted to focus 100% on them. I want to show my girls that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up. I tell them it's ok if they have babies one day and want to stay home with them. I also show them that I have goals of my own and that my passion for illustration is possible through hard work. I hope they will look back at their childhood and remember that their mom was always there for them and that we created so many fun memories together. I hope they are proud of this book that I wrote too!

Parisian family lifestyle children beret

What does your office/work routine look like?

Each day looks a little different depending on the projects that I have for that week. I usually spend my morning time emailing existing or potential clients. This also includes following up with people on Instagram. Throughout the week I usually have commission/editorial pieces to work on. Prep work for live sketching events takes place during the week too. I also create content for my Instagram account which may be in the form of reels/photos for finished projects or "how to" videos on my process. 

This past year was a little different for me as a great portion of my time went into creating my first book. I started writing the book in September and finished all of the illustrations and format of the book by mid December. It was quite the process and it was so hard to keep it a secret from everyone!

Maman et moi French lifestyle Paris art of living culture book Nicole Jarecz

They say, there is nowhere like home! What is your favorite thing about Detroit that you cannot find in Paris! 

I miss living in Paris so much. To me that is my home as well and there are so many things in Paris that I can not find in the United States. But, being back home in Detroit has helped my career as an illustrator tremendously. There is a sense of community here that I was unable to find in Paris. People are more willing to take a chance and invest in my illustrations in Detroit than in France. I think we have a different culture in the United States where people are willing to spend the money to invest in art. Also, Detroit is a much bigger pond than Paris where the market is oversaturated. When I am in Detroit I feel like anything is possible - you just have to work hard, be persistent and make the right connections.

Follow Nicole on Instagram @nicolejareczillustration
Visit her website 

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