Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I keep receiving the same messages from family and friends, and would like to clarify a few things. You know, just to clear the air. Right, where do I start? First of all, we have water and electricity in London. Amazing, right? I know that we don’t have external shutters but I can assure that blinds work just as well.

Now, I know that it will be hard to swallow but the same goes with food. Yes, we have everything we need in London. Yes, there is food, and actually we eat quite well, save for the occasional sandwich of course. And if you are not convinced, just visit the Brixton market. It is a feast for the eyes…and the tastebuds!

IMG_4756 (1)

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Today, I wanted to share something I wrote a few months ago. Initially it was meant for one of my Match column (you can read what was published eventually here: Why You Should date Outside Of Your Comfort Zone).

Suffice to say, it didn’t make the cut. Today, I give you the uncensored version. What do you think? It is (loosely) based on my own experiences (What isn’t anyway?). Let me know if you like it…


That’s me. So naive I used to believe in fairytales…

Once upon a time there, in a land not too far away, was a woman who thought that her country was the centre of the universe. Her parents had brought her up that way, and she didn’t question them. Of course her country was the best one to live in. Her sunny region was paradise on earth, and her hometown had seen many celebrities settle in. Simply put, it was the best place on earth.

She was bright and went to university in the capital city, where she met other students. She started dating, and eventually found her white knight in shining amour. He swept her off her feet. It was such a romantic story: he was from the very same city, but she had met him in the capital. Everything was simply perfect. She was convinced that it was destiny. She introduced him to her parents, and went to visit his family. Life seemed simple and easy. She was so in love that she didn’t see his true colours, despite a couple of warnings from close friends that she ignored.

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Posted by / Category Stereotypes, Travel /

It had to happen, right? Spending twelve years in London was bound to leave some marks.

Today, I was near my home town, in Toulon, speaking at a conference (see the details here: paperdotcon). It was  good to be back. You see, I love everything about Provence: the light, my childhood friends, the food, and the Mediterranean of course. But today, I was told (half jokingly, but still) that I had a British accent.

Me, a British accent?


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Posted by / Category Looking Good /

My life is never dull. Last week I was invited to a casting, only to notice too late that it was in fact about doing some stunt work, and even involved some pretend-fighting. To top everything up, I was by far the oldest women  Damn it! Once upon a time, I used to be the youngest. The youngest student. The youngest project manager. Well, those days were clearly gone. That day, I was the oldest extra. On the bright side, the rehearsal was quite a good workout, and I had a good laugh!

I started talking to one of the assistants of the production company, because she thought that there was a mistake in my date of birth (of course there wasn’t!). She called her colleagues and they thought that it was some sort of joke (I wish!!!). I showed them some pictures of my daughters, and they looked startled. One of them then asked:

“- But what is your secret to look so young?”


That’s what I was expecting to do!

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Posted by / Category London /

I have been living in London for the last twelve years. Twelve years! What can I say? Time flies. I thought that I was British by now. As it turns out, I am not. I remain still very, very French. What happened? Well, the Rugby World Cup. That’s what happened. A friend of mine asked me whom I would be supporting. Without even thinking, I answered “Les Bleus of course!”. It wasn’t a rational response. It just came out.

What? So much for thinking I was fully integrated.



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Posted by / Category London, Looking Good /

Let’s face it: marathons are so last year, right? And seriously, why should the fun stop at 42 km? When you run somewhere, you just run somewhere, no matter how far it is. You just want to reach your destination, whatever the distance.

The thing is, I didn’t know that ultra running even existed until a few months ago. I grew up in the countryside, and running up and down the hills (especially walking up, and running down in my case) all day long was what you’d do. As it turns out, this activity has a name: it is called ultra-running. I didn’t know. It made me wonder where I had been. Probably working, and bringing up my kids as best as I could. Anyway, we are where we are, no need to dwell on the past.

Granted, I will never be a champion. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a fun runner!


So here I am, at the starting line of the Thames Path Challenge in Bishop’s Park, Fulham, wondering whether I will make it in one piece at the finish line, in 50km. Why do I love running? I have no idea, but I believe that it has something to do with the fact that when I run, I can’t think of anything else, I just have to carry on. And for once my priority is, well, me. Just me. Pure bliss!

Everybody thought I was mad. Because I happen to be 42 (almost 43 if you must know), I was told (in no particular order) that I would hurt myself and especially my knees, that I wasn’t ready, that I should run a few marathons before (I didn’t), that I was addicted to running, and so on, and so forth. So here is a newsflash for everybody: I am fine, thank you very much.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Here is the latest instalment…I am still talking about schools (I am still traumatised…). Let me know what you think!

Chapter 10

School Stories

Schools often like parents to help by listening to children reading or supporting other activities. Getting involved in your childrens schools can be a full-time job (unpaid, of course): most schools have a parent-teacher association (PTA). You will be asked to help for fund-raising events such as bake sales and fairs. If you manage to get your child into the school, that is.


Life In the United Kingdom, (Almost) Official Study Guide


March 2012 – She’s got a place!


Work is as busy as ever and I still need to find a good school for Alexandra. It just never stops. As I don’t want my toddler to miss out on a good school I have talked to friends and colleagues about the situation. They all tell me that I am far too naïve and that children need to be prepared for such assessments. How the hell was I supposed to know? Apparently, everybody does it but nobody talks about it.


A friend sent me straight to an acquaintance of hers, who, for a mere £300, prepares Alexandra for the assessment and the interview. She has been coming twice a week for the last three weeks. I am not supposed to tell anyone about this, it is all very hush-hush. The tutor, apparently, did me a favour. She said that she has a long waiting list. This is a business opportunity I need to look into, when I have some time. When you tutor a child, you get paid but the family can’t complain. In fact, the family can’t say anything.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Stereotypes /

It happened over the weekend. I was reading various newspapers when I stumbled upon yet another article on French women: this one explained that we French women are ditching tampons in favour of -wait for it- ‘instinctive bleeding’. You can read it here:

Seriously? Does anyone believe this? Call me wonder-woman please. I am totally in control of my bleeding and can hold it in. It is one of the many, many superpowers we French women enjoy. Don’t try to argue, it’s in our genes. You will never get it.

Seriously, this article is so wrong that I actually find it hilarious. Thanks for the laugh, guys. Right. Where to start? First, let me make a few things clear:


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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Right, it’s this time of the year: back to school and back to work. But here is a today’s treat: the latest chapter of Carine & Archie’s story. In this case, it’s more about Carine’s struggle to fit in…I hope that you can relate!

And in case you have missed it, here us the latest chapter:


Chapter 9 – My New British Boss

Speaking English


To apply for UK citizenship or permanent residency, which TWO things do you need:

A A UK bank account

B An ability to read and speak English

C An ability to speak and write Oxbridge English

D A good understanding of life in the UK

E An Oyster card

F A driving licence

E An above-average ability to drink beer without getting too drunk.


Official responses are B and D. Dont be fooled, C and E are life savers in the UK.


Life in the United Kingdom, (almost) official Practice Questions



February 2012


I arrive late at work to find out that we have a new boss. His name is James. He looks serious, and very British too. I can’t help noticing that he is wearing stripes. The stripes are definitively back this year. He introduces himself to everyone, and I like the fact that he doesn’t gather us for a pep talk on his first day.


That said, my good mood quickly fades away when one of my notes on the governance of one of our major projects comes back to me by email with the following words.

“ I don’t understand. Please write in proper English’





Perplexed, I have a look at my note and can’t spot any grammatical mistakes. I can’t see any typos either. I read the note several times without understanding what is wrong with it. Come on, I don’t want to sing my own praises but it is actually quite good! I don’t get it and feel stuck. What is wrong with this guy?

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2008 Rank:  74
2008 Brand Value (Millions): $4,636
Parent Company:  Kimberly-Clark (KMB)

To ward off generic rivals, Kleenex has been advertising heavily—from TV spots to an Internet site that lets consumers create personalized Kleenex boxes.

Posted by / Category London /



The beauty of writing a blog is that it can lead to all sort of different experiences. You might wonder what I did. Well, here it is: I shot a commercial for Kleenex. How to you like it?

As for me, I love it. Here is what I wrote the day we shot it…tell me what you think!

Shocking news: I was selected for shooting a commercial for Kleenex. It came completely out of the blue: the production company found me through this blog, called me and then invited me for a filmed interview. They were looking for a French woman in London, and somehow chose me, despite the fact that there are tons of French women in London. I will never understand what they saw in me. What the heck, I thought. It was going to be a new experience: it would be fun and exciting, and at the ripe age of 42 I couldn’t help being proud of myself. I decided to go for it.

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