Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

I feel like I am in paradise. No meal to prepare, and everything I want is handed over to me in a matter of minutes. The service is discreet yet attentive.
The weather is nice and sunny, not too warm but not too cold either. Just perfect. We can lie down and have a swim or visit the city. Or go to the desert. Everything is taken care of.

But, believe it or not, I have met at last a couple of people who actually were not happy. Maybe some people are not meant to be happy. They thrive when they whine. They have to complain. It is who they are. It makes them feel like they finally exist. Surely it can be the only explanation!

The first one was a skinny French brunette. At the swimming pool, she started to explain to her husband that the hotel was too big, the service not good enough and she wasn’t enjoying herself. She didn’t know that we were French too so we heard the full list of her various grievances. She was quite passionate about not being happy. Not a good sign! We met them again during breakfast. You have to imagine the most fantastic breakfast buffet, with anything from sushis to croissants, with fresh fruits and Arabic specialties. I recognised her instantly. Guess what : she was sulking and hiding behind huge sunglasses. Maybe the coffee wasn’t served fast enough!

I met another one in the desert. A lady again -English-speaking this time. We had just had the greatest time driving in the sand dunes and were waiting to see the photos of our adventures. She was becoming impatient and the salesman told her politely to wait a few more minutes. She snapped back: “but I have already waited a few minutes”. She then started a long winded rant about the fact that the photographers were not professionals. Lovely.

Why are some people never happy? Even at the other end of the world, they have brought an oversized emotional luggage and have forgotten how to simply let go and enjoy the present. I hope it will never happen to me. That’s actually my wish for 2012. I don’t want to become any more cynical! On this note, I wish you some happy celebrations.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Being officially on holiday is absolutely incredible. I had never been to Dubai and nothing replaces the pinch of excitement that I get when I go to a new place.

That being said, when we arrived at the hotel I felt that we were in Knightsbridge (the poshest area in London). Everybody was speaking Russian, and was skinny with blonde highlights. My first reaction was that Dubai seemed to be London under the sun.

It became even worse when we hit the breakfast buffet this morning. At the next tables, all the women looked vaguely similar, in a way that I couldn’t really define. It felt a bit weird-in a creepy way… It wasn’t the haircut or the age or even the silhouette. I simply couldn’t put my finger on it. After another cup of coffee and yet another glance, it finally dawned on me: they all had the same shape of nose. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a remarkable nose, it was actually just perfect. The oval of the nostrils was just a little bit larger than for natural noses, more like circles. The base was just too perfectly symmetrical. Cosmetic surgery. They must have gone to the same surgeon. A package deal perhaps.

But all was soon forgotten when we went to the desert and started rolling the dunes. I had never been to the desert and somehow such landscapes have a soothing effect. It is difficult to explain: all my usual points of reference were gone, and I had to learn that there were different types of sand dunes, and you must adapt the way you drive to each of them. I loved everything about the whole experience, starting with the spicy smell of Arabic coffee, and even when we got stuck at the top of a dune and had to be pulled by another car of the convoy. What is not to love about the whole experience?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

I am wondering how everybody survives the Christmas season. I have spent my days attending  carol concerts and the mandatory parties, buying, wrapping and sending presents all over the world (I haven’t received one for me yet. Christmas is for kids, you see).
But there are some good news. All should be over soon. I am going on holidays tomorrow…Today, after no less than two festive meals and the unwrapping of all the presents, we are off…More will follow soon. But it will be somewhere sunny!

Natasha Bedingfield – Pocketful of sunshine

With this in mind, this morning I braved the cold, and, notwithstanding my sleepiness, I went to Harrods for some last minute shopping. That’s where I saw it. I am not sure how to call it. I believe that it is the closest thing to an urban tank.

This cannot be called a Chelsea tractor. It is pretty much an upgraded version of it. The Knightsbridge tank. It must be a reaction to the August riots. You can survive a siege in it. You just sip your coffee inside the car while the rioters are desperately trying to set you on fire. That’s the only plausible explanation.
Don’t get me wrong: it is an urban jungle out there.  I totally get it. It is also a very versatile vehicle: I am pretty sure that you can add a bazooka on it, just to be extra sure that you are on top of the world. Maybe you can even cross the Channel with it: just imagine the savings on Eurostar and ferry tickets that you would make with such an engine!  Does it become a submarine as well? What do you think?
And of course, should you face a buffalo, you are totally safe. Totally.
The only thing that you are not safe from with it are your inner fears. Even the Knightsbridge tank can’t protect you from them! Well, I will stick to my Chelsea tractor then.
On this note, I wish you all a happy festive season…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

I am so out of touch that it sometimes scares me. This morning, I went out for my daily ritual: coffee and people watching. I read an article about Piers Morgan testifying during the Levenson enquiry on the phone hacking scandal. 
Piers Morgan used to be the editor of the defunct tabloid News Of The World. He said something like: “I was not directly involved in phone hacking.” I was wondering what he meant: maybe he was indirectly involved? Or maybe he was not involved? It is one of those sentences: you can understand it any way you like. I am afraid I will never have such a (useful) talent.

It was, once again, very cold. I drank my coffee almost mechanically and went out, hoping that the caffeine would kick in soon.
I was wandering, half asleep and freezing despite my four layers.  That’s when I saw them. I managed to take a picture in case you don’t believe me. 

It is the latest fashion in London this winter. Basically, you need to wear a short on your bare legs or a summer pair of tights. Oh, and the shorter the short is, the better. If you can see the pockets below the short, dangling on your thighs, you have got the look spot on!
It is not the first time that I have seen it. Teenage girls dress like this, adult and middle-aged ladies do it too. You can’t get out without seeing a woman dressed like this. I promise.
I feel old. I just can’t do it. First of all, I would look awful. You see, I love winter because I don’t need to wax my legs as often as in summer. Winter is, for me, the time to regenerate –and keep warm. But it was minus 2 Celsius this morning! When did showing your legs in the middle of a cold winter become fashionable? When did freezing to death become the last cool thing to do?

I feel out of touch. Why do women have to torture themselves to follow the latest craze? I just don’t get it. What’s next? 

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

I should be glad but, curiously, the whole affair feels bittersweet. The good thing is, during Christmas parties, we are not asked any longer whether all Frenchmen have mistresses. No, instead, it is all about the Euro crisis and the war of words against Britain.
If you have missed it, let me explain. France is on the verge of losing its triple-A rating. Instead of doing something about it, our politicians have behaved like petulant children on the verge of being told off by the head teacher in the playground: they have said that Britain was even worse than France and should lose its triple A before France does.
The British didn’t like the comment, which they believed was “not helpful” (what a very British understatement!) and this morning the British press is all about the complicated relationship between the French and the Brits.
It made me wonder: how did this happen? They will of course deny it until their very last breath, but the French and the Brits are more similar than they would ever admit. For starters, London is the biggest French-speaking city outside of France. And to make matters even worse, more than 500,000 Brits have bought a holiday house in France.
Now, let’s talk about language: most of the good words in English are French. The “savoir-faire” is clearly French, as is the “saucisson”, not to mention the “pot-pourri” and the “pousse-café” (the liqueur you have after coffee).
As for the French language, all the trendy, edgy words are English: the “week-end” is of course an institution. “To manage” (manager) is now part of the French lexicon (France is full of manage[u]rs now),  as is “hot dog” and “design”.
I strongly believe that, when two populations are so intertwined, any differences, even if minor, become magnified and take huge proportions. Nothing to worry about. After all, French bashing (and its counterpart in France, British bashing) , is a favourite pastime in both countries. That’s what happens in an old couple.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

It is this time of the year again: Christmas parties are in full swing. Today, I met fellow bloggers of BritMums and it was nice to put faces on all the names. On top of this, I had my fist sip of champagne at 11 am. That’s the beauty of Christmas parties: you can start having fun earlier than usual.

But not all Christmas parties are good. I have had a few Corporate Christmas parties (with and without hubby). After some drinks, I can guarantee that some well-meaning colleague will ask the dreaded question (we have had it at every single party so far. In most cases it was directed to my husband, but I wasn’t too far).
“ Is it true that all Frenchmen have mistresses? (Usually, a “Wink Wink” follows, with a heavy laugh. Lovely)
Here we go again. So, what are we supposed to answer?  We might be French but we have a pretty normal life. Between the business and our daughters we simply have no time to fool around. Not that we would want to.  I sometimes wish I could hit back with some comments like.:“Oh yes, actually my husband’s mistress is driving me back home tonight, we are very relaxed about the whole affair thing, it has been going on for so long…” But most of the time I am too polite to say something like that or not sarcastic enough. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that the DSK affair hasn’t helped, and that “we French” have such a reputation, but having the same question almost at every party is becoming a bit of a bore. Maybe we should pretend we are from Quebec? Worth a thought.
Despite all this, during the parties, I am trying to be nice, polite and not to hit back. But my problem is that, after even a small cup of champagne, for some reason I usually become a lot more direct. Once, a colleague of mine, who was slightly inebriated, came to talk to me and explained to me, standing a bit too close, that he once had a French girlfriend. She looked exactly like me. Even her personality was similar, according to him. I deeply regret what I did there and then. I told him:” She can’t have been like me because I would never have gone out with a guy like you. Not possible”. He hasn’t talked to me ever since. He resents me because I ruined his Christmas party. Apparently I am a killjoy. What was I supposed to do?
So, honestly, how do you survive the Christmas season?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Hello from sunny St Tropez! Just for you to be a bit jealous (because that’s what I want you to be) here is a picture:

Oh, and there is a lovely post from me on Nazima (or @workinglonmummy) ‘s blog on how to bake panettone. I am actually a bit jealous because hers look better than mine but never mind. Life can be unfair…You can read it here.

I have a confession to make: I feel more and more British. For starters, I rented a car in Nice to drive to St Tropez and, after three months of operating a Chelsea tractor in London I felt a bit lost. You wouldn’t believe how fast the French are driving on the motorway. Scary. I miss my Chelsea tractor (yes, I have just written this), my rented Citroen is nice but not quite the same. What exactly is happening to me?

Anyway, this morning when I left for the airport (at the crack of dawn and I am not a morning person) it was freezing in London. I had at least five different layers on me, not to mention a hat, a scarf and the mandatory gloves. And there it was: my British neighbour was going for a run in his T-shirt and short pants. How does he do it? Mind you, he wasn’t the only one: on the train to Gatwick airport, most Brits had no coats when all continental Europeans were wrapped up tightly in different layers. You could tell who was British just by looking at whether he/she had a coat. And, to make matters even worse, I saw a guy in his flip-flops. I felt cold just looking at him (no coat + flip flops + -2 celsius  = quintessentually British).

That’s when it dawned on me: I can’t be 100% British. I will always need to wrap up when I am cold. It must be in my genes. Tough. I’d better accept it and get on with my life.

But it got worse: at 7am on the train a group of British girls (they looked 18/20-ish) sitting in my coach started to drink some white wine. They were celebrating a birthday apparently (and starting early – or finishing late, depending on how you look at it). At the airport, they sat at the Baileys stand and drank again. I hadn’t even had my breakfast. Amazing. How do they do it? Come to think of it, maybe you need the booze to keep you warm? It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Don’t understand me the wrong way, the whole episode was very civilised, they were very polite and not too noisy, and nobody made any comments.

I am starting to believe that some things will always be beyond me. What are your views? What am I missing?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

All I want right now is to curl up with a good novel, fall asleep, and wake up in sunny spring. That’s probably what getting older and a sore throat do for me (or maybe the other way around?). But I have something to do every day. Duty keeps calling.
Today is no exception. Today, I have just passed my “Life in the UK” test. This is yet another milestone on the road to becoming British. And I am pleased to announce that I passed! The difficulty, for me, wasn’t the test itself (24 questions to answer in 45 mins, if you must know), but the long wait outside, the rain and above all having to pass yet another exam (I have had my fair share of exams already, I keep thinking that I am done with them, but I keep having to sit additional tests for some reason). All I need to do now is prepare and send my citizenship application form. I will probably have to pay a fee as well. And then, I will be invited to a Citizenship ceremony. With some luck, I will be able to vote for the next General Election.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that I will never truly be British. –I often get stark reminders of this like, “Oh, it is different over here, Dear”,  or “What do you mean, Darling?” –I usually mean what I say, actually . The reason why I want a British passport is because my daughters are more British than French. In my opinion, they need to become British. Badly. According to my experience, nationality isn’t in your genes. This came to a surprise to me, as I come from a very, very French background. But I knew that my daughters British when:
1.     They started to correct my bad accent (Gloaoves, mum, please…)
2.     They started eating parsnip (did you know that parsnip existed? I didn’t)
3.     They love Yorkshire pudding
4.     They don’t know what a béchamel is and ask for gravy at every possible opportunity
5.     They use the informal form of you (“tu”) with everybody, which doesn’t always make the cut in France.
So here we are, one step closer to becoming a British family… Who would have thought?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

It is this time of the year again. I miss the freshness of the food, the soft bread with a crispy crust, and more generally the simple and tasty food of my childhood. I used to buy everything I needed on my way back home, after work. Well, it wouldn’t be possible here. In London, it is not unusual, when you buy a croissant, to be given something from the day before, and someone will microwave it for you. What a shame! Most of the so-called French Croissants (and, as you know, for bread and croissants I am a purist) are usually bought frozen and heated in the oven. This is why they all look and taste so similar: they come from the same place!

The bread at Aubaine – Real bread!

Urgent action was needed…and act I did! I have gone into a baking frenzy: baguette, croissants, pains au chocolat. I am also progressing on brioche. I am even trying to make a sourdough starter in my vault (don’t ask!). But this means that I wake up at the crack of dawn to bake various treats for breakfast. I feel ready to open my very own boulangerie. But I am also shattered. This baking frenzy simply isn’t sustainable.

A French boulangerie in the middle of London

I had to find some good addresses in London to enjoy fresh food and good bread, and also, accidentally, to be able to sleep more! I got lucky. After months of tweeting each other and commenting on each other’s posts, I finally met a fellow blogger,  Nazima @Workinglonmummy ( at a restaurant called Aubaine (a French name, that’s a good start). I just loved it. The place looks a bit like an old boulangerie in a small French village. Ok, we were in the middle of WAG land, on Brompton Cross (for the definition of WAG please see here) but the service was really friendly (I have to break it to you: I am not a WAG!. For starters, I am much too fat to be one!) and I simply couldn’t resist the basket of fresh bread. I had finally found some good fresh bread. The main dishes were simple and tasty (I had some great scallops. No fancy sauces to cover up the taste, just the fresh scallops cooked to perfection). Finally, the desserts were presented on a tray. I wanted to eat the whole thing and couldn’t make up my mind. We had a great time and somehow I kept going back (I had wonderful eggs Florentine on a toasted brioche the other day…I am still dreaming of them!)…What a treat!

Another fantastic address is the bakery at Harrods (87-135 Brompton Road). You can find all sorts of bread there but it lacks a bit of charm. That said, I love to treat myself to a bouillabaisse in the seafood department. Bouillabaisse is a traditional fish dish. Mastering it is quite a challenge (the fishes need to be cooked for a few hours and each recipe is different). It is simply perfect, with different fresh fishes every day, cooked the traditional way, as if I were on my favourite restaurant in Ramatuelle. I swear, I could almost hear the sea!
I do realise that I sound a bit posh here, but again, good bread and good food are not a luxury where I come from. Maybe I am a bit homesick after all?
 NB: This post in not sponsored, I am just sharing with you how difficult it can be to find good food in London…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London