There as just as many flower shops in France as there are boulangeries and patissiers — and like any other facet of French culture, buying and giving flowers is done casually, but with style. Creating classic French floral arrangements is all about attitude; arranging fleurs des champs (wild flowers) and herbes follies (crazy grasses) as beautifully disheveled as Jane Birkin's bangs.
Learn from French flower connoisseur Elena Seegers, founder of and floral expert at , exactly how to arrange a chic bouquet for your next fête — or just any day of the week!
First, you need to choose local, seasonal blooms that have a strong chromatic presence. "Try your local farmers market, or flower market to get great quality blooms. Quality is way more important that quantity," says Seegers. Here she uses deep red local dahlias.
Flowers are the base of the bouquet, but feel free to get creative with additives depending on what you have available, like stems from other smaller blooms, flora you forage from your garden, or even herbs, which look gorgeous and very French. She decided to add Queen Anne's Lace, locust guess, echinacea pods, cosmos and lemon oregano.
Before you get started, you need: a bucket for your stems, scissors or a small, sharp knife, and an elastic band.
"Take each stem, and remove the leaves and thorns all the way down the stem," she says. "Leaves and other debris will make for a less elegant shape, and will cloud the water and shorten the bouquet's lifespan."
Place all of your freshly-groomed blooms in the bucket, and you're ready to start arranging your bouquet!
You'll want to start with the largest flowers as your main blooms, adding the second largest to the bouquet at about 30 degrees. Turn the bouquet slightly and add a few stems of your choice one at a time to create an 'X' shape.
"Keep an eye on the balance of the bouquet in color and shape," Seegers says. "Once you have a good handful, enough to hold without it being uncomfortable, you're ready to trim the stems with your free hand."
Add romantic French flair with a ribbon by hooking it onto a couple of the more hardy stems, wrapping it around to the other side, and then tie it into a knot instead of a bow for a relaxed look.
Finish it off by squeezing the end and recutting the stems to be the same length so your bouquet can stand. You can keep it in a vase of shallow water.
Voila! You have a bouquet très français.