How to Live a French Lifestyle in Southwest Missouri

Master the art of living a Parisian lifestyle in Springfield, Missouri with these local simple pleasures and beautiful surroundings.

by Tessa Cooper

Jul 2024

Tessa Cooper
Photo courtesy Tessa Cooper

The first time I visited Paris, it felt like coming home. I was finally in a place where people fully embraced all my favorite things in life, and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. It’s why the term Francophile exists, and the French even have a phrase for this romanticized way of life. It’s l’art de vivre, which means “the art of living.” It’s the idea of embracing those small things that add joy to your life. It’s sipping your coffee a little slower to savor it, lighting the “nice” candle instead of saving it and regularly filling your home with fresh flowers. However, it’s also about appreciating the beauty in the ordinary, like noting how good everything smells right before it rains or admiring the architectural details of an old building.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have visited Paris four times now and several parts of northern France this past summer. I was initially afraid Paris would lose some of its luster when the novelty wore off for me, but instead, I love it more than ever. I’ve accepted the city and all her charming (and not-so-charming) quirks. People often ask me if I plan on moving there someday. In my wildest dreams, maybe I would, or perhaps I’d just rent a place and stay there for an entire summer. But for now and the foreseeable future, Springfield is home, and there are so many things to love about this place as well.

Ernest Hemingway, a fellow journalist with Midwestern roots, spent about seven years living in Paris, and the city also stole his heart. My favorite quote from him reads, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” There are so many ways to live a Parisian lifestyle right here in Springfield, and here’s how I do it.

Take a Stroll

Leisurely walks are a quintessentially French pastime. While American cities like Springfield might not be as walkable as European cities, you’re never too far from a beautiful route in 417-land. Here are a few ideas.

To Take in Views of Historic Architecture

Walk around downtown Springfield before or after a lunch date or shopping session. Or, go to Commercial Street and then detour to the Midtown Neighborhood to stroll down historic Washington Street.

For Views of Nature

Start by enjoying coffee at Kingdom Coffee on Lone Pine and then traverse the trail that leads to Sequiota Park. Side note: The French pretty much never take their coffee to-go, but I personally love a good stroll with a coffee in hand.

For a Little Day Trip

Parisians are just a small train ride away from so many beautiful chateaux. While we may not have those here, a hike among the Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins is a nice way to channel a similar experience.

A Q&A With a French Expert and Expat

Aurélia Loyd, a Parisian native, first came to Springfield as a foreign exchange student in 2007. When scheduling our interview, she asked if we could plan the time and location around her routine visit to the farmers market, which, I must say, was very French of her. Here’s how she embraces l’art de vivre in her everyday life in Springfield.

417 Magazine: Tell me a bit about the French concept of l’art de vivre and what it means to you?
Aurélia Loyd:
For me, it’s the little things in life. In France, a lot of life revolves around food and the quality of food, and also the little habits and aspects of life. That matters. Have you ever watched the famous French movie Amélie?  That movie focuses a lot on the little things that people like or dislike. When I think about l’art de vivre, I think about the good little things and habits in life.

417: What are some of those things for you?
One thing that I enjoy doing here and want to do more of is hiking and walking. Walking is also something that European people do a lot. They even just walk by shops without really wanting to buy anything, but just for the pleasure of seeing things. I also like having coffee with people one-on-one too, which is something you would definitely do as a French person.

417: Americans often romanticize living abroad and it’s easy to take living here for granted. Is there anything you specifically love about living in Springfield?
The kindness and hospitality here are big ones. Not to contrast it too much with France, but some things I love about people in the Midwest that make them stand out are their positivity, gratefulness and overall outlook on life.