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Five things they don’t tell you about health and wellness in France

From mealtimes to massages, we take a sideways look at how French people manage their wellbeing

All things in moderation, including exercise and dieting Pic: Chinnapong / Shutterstock

1. Avoir la pêche

‘Having the peach’ (being in the pink) means exercising regularly, but not to excess: taking the stairs instead of the lift, cycling to work when the weather is good, and la balade du dimanche all count towards your fitness goals. 

There is absolutely no need to risk a sports injury by sweating or getting out of breath. 

Petit à petit!   

Read more: Heart disease patients in France prescribed free sports classes

2. Le régime

A régime can help you regain your ligne but moderation in all things. 

A good diet obviously includes rich foods such as foie gras and ripe brie but only in tiny quantities on special occasions, like Sunday lunches. 

If your modiste requires it, however, and your doctor agrees, you might have to subsist on dinners of vegetable broth. 

J’ai très bien mangé!

Read more: Servier launches Paris appeal over Mediator ‘slimming pill’ scandal

3. La détox

It is well known that the gendarmes take a dim view of people being obviously drunk in public, eg. walking sideways down the road singing La Marseillaise

So however many very small drinks you pack away, you’ll still be attempting to act as sober as possible. 

Or if you’re watching your waistline, you can order Perrier. 


Read more: Four boozy French phrases to describe having drunk too much

4. L’heure

French people restrict their eating to fixed mealtimes: breakfast is at 7:00, lunch is at noon, and dinner is at 19:00. 

There’s no munching toast on the bus, grabbing cake with your Starbucks or falling for a sausage roll at the garage. 

They might indulge in the occasional brunch or afternoon tea but only at l’heure du thé! 

Bon appétit!

Read more: Hungry, peckish, stuffed: 15 French phrases to do with food and eating

5. La décompression

It’s fine to switch off from work once you leave the office. 

It’s even better if you can leave the kids with their grandparents for a few days so you can spend the weekend at a spa or wellness retreat. 

There’s no guilt attached to spending money on beauty treatments or massages either. 

C’est normal!

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