“It relaxes me,” a blogger named Virginie told Le Parisien last May. “I don’t think of anything and, before long, my mind is clear.”
“My breathing becomes calmer,” another woman explained to L’Express in June. “My brain disconnects from stress and from noise.”
“I cut myself off from the world,” said a schoolteacher, in August. “I find myself in a bubble.”
They’re not talking about cigarettes or wine, let alone anything more illicit. Hundreds of thousands of stressed-out people across France have recently taken to an unlikely means of relaxation: coloring books for adults. The books first came into vogue in 2012, when the publisher Hachette released Art-Thérapie: 100 Coloriages Anti-Stress, a collection of mandala-like designs that promised adults “relaxation support.” It was such a success that Hachette launched a series, which has since sold nearly 2 million copies.
Offerings from other publishers include Jardin Secret, a collection of intricate floral patterns, and Inspiration Bollywood, a book of paisleys. Yves Saint Laurent has released a coloring book, as has Hermès, which for $160 offers 12 pages of designs, including a fox dressed as a courtier and a fez-adorned fish sporting traditional Turkish garb.