What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, 
and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind


Bombshell Bardot burst into the world most nakedly in Roger Vadim’s 1956 film “And God Created Woman.” She instantly became an international phenomenon: an icon of the sexual revolution and a stereotype of the free-spirited French woman who defied the Puritan norms of her time



"France and the United States have been feeding off of one another since the French Revolution, and the French woman has been an icon ever since Joan of Arc marched into battle in chic, form-fitting armor (or so popular renditions would have us believe). Even Eugène Delacroix’s famous Marianne leading a revolution is both the nation’s calling card and a paragon of the true French woman: accessorized, political, passionate and topless."  Read more...



"Bill Maher once said: “The French have weird ideas about privacy. They think it should be private.” And it’s true. They favor the implicit over the explicit, discretion over indiscretion. And the hidden is often more enticing than the obvious." Read more...

"Every woman over 21 should read this book. Written with arch intelligence and light-handed irony. Delicious, smart, and not at all fattening." 

Forgot the oo-la-la clichés about French women. Never mind how they cook, wear mini skirts the size of postage stamps, or eat foie gras and don't get fat (and, by the way, they do). It's not surface glam that gives French women their allure; it's their mindset and culture. Less a how-to and more a how-not-to, national bestseller What French Women Know takes a deep-dive into the world of that infamous je ne sais quoi. An irreverent and refreshing counterpoint to the love dogma of our times.




"[Ollivier is] ideally suited to contrast and compare the two cultures that seem to fascinate -- and irritate -- each other." 

The Los Angeles Times

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"A Gallic prescription for living a life that is richer, more sensual, messier, and a lot more fun."

The Boston Globe

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"Ollivier is sure to dazzle any reader with a fondness for French women with this batch of anecdotes and corresponding hypotheses, drizzled with a winning combination of sarcasm and wit." 

Publishers Weekly


Publishers Weekly Best Books 2009 

Audio Reviews 

"Ollivier's manifesto belongs in that rare class of books that must be listened to on audio rather than read in print. Her performance of her own book is so delicious and pitch-perfect that it demands a hearing, if for nothing else than the hilarious recounted conversations between herself and various French female interlocutors, whom she presents with a faultless blend of Gallic style and nonchalance. Her accent is impeccable—to American ears, anyway—achieved during a decade of living in France and being married to a Frenchman. As she wends her way through love, sex, food, sex, child-rearing, sex, politics, and more sex, Ollivier compares American women's neuroticism and anxiety to French women's devil-may-care attitude. Vive la difference!"

Publishers Weekly


"Why is it everyone finds French women so sexy? Why are French women so fascinating? Why so chic? Why so thin? Ollivier has some answers..." 

The Washington Post 

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"Les French Women n’ont pas fini de faire jaser. Debra Ollivier révèle à ses consoeurs américaines ce que savent les femmes françaises sur la passion dans son nouveau livre What French Women know, about love, sex and other matter of the heart and mind."

French Morning

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"We all know about the French paradox when it comes to food, but what about everything else? An intriguing new book on the subject of love and life is What French Women Know. Narrated by the author, the book is a real eye-opener..."

Audio Review


"French women, ridiculously famous for not getting fat, also know the secret to appreciating men, being at home in their own skin, enjoying sex, food, parenting and accepting with esprit the imperfections of living. What French Women Know is a sharp-eyed and witty examination of the French mystique – a fascinating alternative to how we Americans view love and sex.” Karen Karbo, author of the Kick Ass Women Series 


"A clever, liberating book. Ollivier upends the conventional wisdom on relationships and offers a more realistic, more playful and surely a more satisfying model…If we all just followed Ollivier's sage advice, the battle of the sexes could be declared a truce." Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting


Delightful and instructive. Debra Ollivier has written a smart and sexy book that finally explains why French women are so and sexy.”  Julie Barlow, co-author of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong and The Story of French


"Every American woman over 21 should read this book--a 12-step program for living La Vie En Rose.  Written with arch intelligence and light-handed irony, Debra Ollivier's uncanny understanding of the French woman is apparent from the start - - it's impossible to put down. Delicious, smart and not at all fattening. Learn how French women do it – put their Carpe before their Diem.” Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack, authors of Literacy and Longing in L.A.


"In What French Women Know, Debra Ollivier, who as an American married to a Frenchman has had plenty of time to study la femme française,   successfully takes on the tough task of depicting the French woman as she is and not as cultural stereotypes would make her out to be:   a relentlessly slim,  self-assured, sexy, exotic paragon of perfection.  By the time  American women reading this informative page-turner finish the book, they may envy - or not envy, like - or not like, the French women but at least they'll have a clear idea of what she thinks about love, sex, and other matters of heart and mind. That include a host of cultural differences, from her relaxed approach to cooking (from scratch), children (not babyproofing her home), and sex (seeing herself as a sexual creature well after the age of 50).  Vive la France and congratulations to Debra Ollivier for penetrating the mystique of what French women know with humor and distance."Harriet Welty-Rochefort, author of French Toast: An American in Paris Celebrates the Maddening Mysteries of the French


"Combining wit, aplomb and piercing perceptiveness, Debra Ollivier decodes French attitudes about sex, love, gender relations, body politics, and seduction. She reminds us that it is in the presence of the other that we discover ourselves. Accompanying her on the back roads of the French/American cultural divide, is a real ‘plaisir.’” Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence


"(Ollivier) knows how to look at the oo-la-la stereotypes and tease out the reality, how to look at French women in the context of French culture—and she makes you think about how you think about the essential matters of the heart and mind."

Sueky Howard, Bookpage