Posted by / Category London /

There is a new trend in town. Once again, I feel completely out of touch. I hadn’t seen it coming. Given that our car is currently being repaired, I have had to walk a lot more.  And I have seen masses of men dressed in pink. Pink shirts are the way to go. Everybody wears pink. Except me, that is.

Obviously, it is even better if you have pink stripes, because, as you know (and if you don’t have a look here) stripes are the ultimate sign of power.  Well, I have a confession to make: I am allergic to pink. There is only so much pink that one can take and, with two young daughters, I have had more than my fair share of pink for at least a lifetime. I can’t stand pink princesses and pink dresses any more. I wear everything but pink. So imagine my surprise when I noticed that more and more men are dressed in pink shirts to go to work. Even my neighbour has dyed her hair in pink. I can’t post a picture for obvious reasons, so you will have to trust me on this one. I couldn’t believe it. No pink for me, thank you very much.


But it doesn’t stop here. London is the capital of all colours. I think that it must have something to do with the grey weather: we need to compensate for the lack of sunshine. And compensate some do. This is what I saw this morning and at first I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

On the bright side, this young lady woke me up more than my morning’s coffee. The combination of bright yellow socks, electric pink tights together with checked dress and coat just did it for me. I am sure that she would be glowing in the dark.
So tell me, is it time to ditch my classical wardrobe for something a bit, well, brighter?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

Yesterday was a bad day! We woke up and were about to start the school run by running to the car, only to find out that the said car looked a bit funny. Actually, more than a bit. The front side was broken, with red traces all over. Then, we noticed a paper on the windscreen. No less than three passers-by had seen a C10 red bus hit our Chelsea tractor without stopping. They all had left their numbers. We spend some time dealing with insurance companies and, thanks to the lovely witnesses, the bus company has accepted liability (in writing, baby!). Now, I just have to wait for them to pick it up and repair it. Come to think of it, the whole episode was very rock’n’roll, true London style!
You have got to love the British kindness. In France, I would have been lucky to have one number. Come to think of it, I have had plenty of opportunities to see such kindness in action over here. My perception is that people are kinder this side of the Channel. I remember that, once, the school closed because of a burst pipe and by 8.15 am I had had 3 mums calling me to warn me and offering to babysit the little one. How cool is this?
Don’t get me wrong, over here too you get the occasional parasite; usually it’s someone who never does a thing and rely on you for the school run/pick up after parties/everything else without even offering to do anything at all in exchange. But it remains quite rare. Maybe I have just been lucky so far. I am glass-half-full sort of person. I am pleased that three kind-hearted persons helped us and I prefer not to think about the bus driver who didn’t even stop despite, as one witness put it ‘a dramatic bang’.
So, why are people kinder and, overall, more helpful? I simply don’t know. It is probably because in France, the state takes care of everything. There is less need for solidarity. Maybe it is because my attitude has changed: I can’t rely on my family to help me over here, and as a result I have to be more social and less shy. In London, in an emergency, people will always at least have a kind word and they will try to help in any way they can.
So, once again, a big thank you to the three lovely witnesses and to all the persons who have supported me over time!


Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

‘I don’t know where to go’…so true sometimes!

You may remember that, last week, I was on my way to meet my lovely and oh so British friend L., who had just spent a weekend in Paris with her boyfriend. She had something to tell me. I was expecting her to announce me that they are engaged because that’s what seems to be happening to all my friends after a romantic weekend in Paris. It was starting to become a tad boring, actually.


Well, it turns out that I was completely wrong. This time, things didn’t go as planned.  L. was expecting him to pop the question. She waited and waited. When she realised that he wasn’t going to ask her to marry him after all, she decided to take matters into her own hands. A couple of hours before they had to catch the Eurostar, she tried, as diplomatically as possible, to tell him that, after three years together, they should considered to be engaged.

It didn’t go down very well. Her (posh) boyfriend told her that he had to ask her, not the other way around. They stopped talking on the train and he wouldn’t return her calls since they are back.

This got me thinking: in this day and age, why can’t women take the initiative to get engaged? Mind you, it is not only about being engaged. Time and time again, during my professional life, I sensed that being a woman was a hindrance. It happened to get a loan for my business, to find new clients (they want to talk to the boss, as a female I must be the secretary, obviously). In this day and age, you could have expected things to have evolved. Well, not in France and not in the UK.

I tried to reassure L. as best as I could. I told her that if he truly loves her, he would come back. Give him a couple of months.

We took the tube together to go back home when an older guy looked at her voraciously. The Victoria Line was packed and suddenly L. felt a lost hand touching the lower end of her back. She looked at me helplessly, not knowing what to do with men any more, completely frozen. I didn’t think twice. I grabbed the hand and put it in the air, asking loudly to whom it belonged. The older guy blushed and try to mutter something. I didn’t give him a chance.

“Get a life, you old pervert!” People were looking at me in a funny way. Some started to smile.

It felt good. L. thanked me but I think that now she believes that I am a bit mad. So tell me, what’s wrong with women taking the initiative?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /


There is a new trend in town: a lot of my friends have been to Paris for a weekend with their respective boyfriend or girlfriend and –surprise surprise!- they all came back engaged. It must be dome sort of ritual for young couples in a manual that I missed. Once back, I get a full description of how he popped the question. It is usually something along the following lines “And in the middle of the Champ de Mars, in front of the Eiffel tower, he went down on one knee and asked me whether I wanted to marry him. Everybody applauded. It was sooooooo romantic. Paris is the most romantic city in the world. Oh, I love Paris! I said yes, of course.” And so on, and so forth. I am, of course, very happy for them, despite the fact that I keep hearing the same story and it is becoming slightly boring (Am I becoming cynical?). On top of this, I have to admit Paris doesn’t have the same effect on me. There is nothing romantic about dog crap every 5 yards (be careful where you kneel, boys) and mad drivers everywhere. I would know, I used to live there.
OK, I will say it: London is, to me, a lot more romantic than Paris.
There are lovely parks everywhere and the dog poo usually comes in a plastic bag! Seriously, even the lampposts are reminiscent of an old love story. You don’t believe me? I was once wondering what the cryptic signs on the Westminster lampposts meant. I got some help from my deliciously British friend the Accidental Londoner (check out her blog here). She happens to be a fountain of knowledge. Apparently, the W stands for the Duke of Westminster, who had a 10-year relationship with Coco Channel, hence the interlaced Cs on the other side of the lampposts. Obviously the Westminster council disagrees with such an explanation and has said that W stands for Westminster and the double Cs for City Council. What a bunch of old bores!

Coco Chanel famously turned the Duke’s proposal of marriage down, arguing: “There have been several Duchesses of Westminster, there is only one Chanel”. That’s French bluntness for you!
In London, you see, you don’t shout your love from the rooftops. You write it on a lamppost. How original is this? Frankly, I have never seen it anywhere else. Anyway, I know need to meet my friend L. Guess what: she was in Paris last weekend and she has got something to tell me. Why do I have this sense of déjà-vu?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

Traffic in London was a nightmare this morning because there are all sorts of road works in Pimlico and to make matters even worse, the Vauxhall bridge was closed. I ended up having my morning coffee next to the MI6 building after a long and stressful school run. One thing led to another and I started thinking of spies…

This is James Bond’s house. How exciting! I live in Spy land: Pimlico and Vauxhall are where you can find them when they are not on a secret mission. The location of some of their offices is meant to be a secret. Well, it turns out that, no later than yesterday, I was taking a bus to go near Pimlico station. At some point, the driver stopped and said “All spies to get off the bus now”. Well, not so secret then. The thing is, I am not a spy and this was my bus stop. So I muttered, “Actually, I live here”. All the other passengers didn’t say a word and got off looking at their feet. I felt that I was caught in the middle of the cold war. Very weird indeed.


Adding 2 and 2 together, I came to the conclusion that the office block on my street is one of such locations and apparently it is an open secret because even my florist knew it. After some careful observation, this is what I can tell you:
1.     Spies don’t work during weekends. No black vans are coming out of the gates on Saturdays or Sundays;
2.     Some spies finish work really early. Like before 4pm.;
3.     Some spies look very fit. Others, well, not so much;
4.     My florist thinks that they should buy more flowers.

But I digress. This morning, while I was daydreaming and admiring the MI6 building, I noticed that the guy sitting at the next table had blue hair. If you don’t believe me, here is the evidence:


 The funny thing is that, apart from the hair, he had all the attire of the average office worker, with suit and blackberry. This got me thinking: maybe it is a signal: he is waiting for someone and the hair is the way the other guy is going to recognise him. Come to think if it, it is a very silly signal, because in London, you can see all sorts of hairstyles. Punk, green, rasta…you name it, we can see it everyday. Blue doesn’t stand out. I should have asked him but I was too shy to do so. I hope that the secret meeting went well.

The caffeine took some time to kick in. I started dreaming of a bus that would stop and say ‘Pimlico, home of the French Yummy Mummy’. In another lifetime maybe!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Joan Of Arc by Rosetti, kissing her sword

I need to come clean about something. After more than 8 years now, I still haven’t cracked the right way to say hello in London.
Usually, I say “Hi” or “Hey” and it does the trick. But the responses may vary. It can be ‘Good day mate!’, ‘Are you alright?’ or ‘How do you do?’. Sometimes, I even get the silent look and I feel like a total failure. Sigh.

In short, I never get it right. However, that’s not the worst part. My real greeting nightmare is: when do you kiss?  In France, we are all serial smoochers. Depending on the region, you have to do 2, 3 or even 4 pecks on the cheeks. Here, I simply don’t know. Apparently, the rule seems to be one light kiss on the cheek for your female friends only. Don’t ask me what you do with the boys, I have no idea whatsoever. None. I have seen some do air kisses, hugs, or just handshakes. I think that there must be a hidden addendum on the Magna Carta explaining whom you can kiss. Mental note to self: I need to call the British Museum to ask them.


So what do you do over here? I sometimes wish I were a stuck-up British man who would only do handshakes. Some of my male colleagues told me that they had never kissed anyone (to say hello, obviously. Mind you, they didn’t elaborate so it is open to all interpretations). I couldn’t believe it. I have tried to kiss male friends (in a friendly way, if you must know) only to be greeted with a clumsy handshake and a funny look. OK, lesson learned.

Actually, not quite.  It took me a bit more to learn my lesson and to NEVER kiss a British guy without prior warning, explanation and a business case (all three conditions are mandatory). I hadn’t moved for a very long time to London and I made the mistake of kissing British friend/colleague to say hello. The guy slightly turned his head and I almost kissed the corner of his lips. I was very embarrassed indeed and had to apologise to make it clear that I didn’t fancy him (at all, actually). And then he said “The pleasure was all mine”.

I couldn’t believe it. Well, I don’t like British kisses but you have got to love the British sense of humour, right?

What about you? How do you deal with the kissing conundrum?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /


Every mother knows the challenges involved in bringing up children. Right now, my daughters are fascinated by swear words. The ruder and the dirtier, the better. Sometimes it feels like they are having some sort of competition. I have to admit that I didn’t know that they could be so creative and make such an effort to expand their vocabulary –I just wish that it were in a different sort of register!

Without being able to admit it, I learned lots of new words and I am not sure that I will be able to use them all. I also didn’t know that swearing could be so funny. They seem to keep laughing their heads off all the time. I tried to put an end to it, only to find out that they were swearing at every possible opportunity, but behind my back, or -even worse- at their friends’ houses. It was time to take action. I told them that they could swear as much as they wanted, but only in our basement loo, with the door closed.
Initially, they couldn’t believe their luck and spent an hour cramming themselves in there, shouting all sorts of swear words at the mirror. Swearing outside of the loo is of course strictly forbidden. They were all giggling and kept going back to the loo, just to swear.

 The novelty quickly wore off. I don’t think that they have used the swear loo any more. The fascination of swear words seems to have gone, at least for the time being…And if it comes back, I will send them again to the downstairs loo to get it out of their system.

Come to think of it, I love this swear loo concept. Wouldn’t it be nice, every time you hold a grudge against someone, just to go to the basement toilet and insult the person all you want, until all the hate fades away? I need to try it out sometimes. Or when you are tired or sad and need some me-time, you could just go and cry all the tears of your body, in order to feel all refreshed and happy again? We all need a swear loo in our life, don’t you think?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /


Right, it is time to set the record straight here. I have been complaining about the fact that, whatever I do, I am never taken seriously because of my French accent but, right now, I feel like a princess. A goddess. For some reasons, being French also gives me lots of perks. To be fair, I am a lot more relaxed and I don’t put up with what I used to, which must help.

Let me explain. Yesterday, I decided to do some grocery shopping. I don’t like it, but the family has to eat, right? To cheer me up, I went to my coffee shop first where, for some unknown reason, I was offered a free cappuccino. By the female barrista, if you must know. Well, I just enjoyed it. It was great.

Then, I needed to go to my local supermarket to buy some fresh fish. Nobody was at the stand to serve me. Typical. It was about 11.30 am on a Friday morning. I therefore had to ask someone for help. Eventually a young guy arrived. He was clearly annoyed. I explained that I wanted a couple of fresh soles. I also ask him whether he could skin them for me. You see, in France you don’t even need to ask, they do it automatically. And you have to stop them if you don’t want them to. But the guy told me ”sorry, ma’am, I am not trained to do this.” What?


The thing is, a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have bought them anyway. But after having tried to skin a sole in my own kitchen only to manage to send it flying on the wall, I wasn’t going to accept this. So I replied. “Well, neither am I. What am I supposed to do then?” Blank look. In a very British way, I ended the conversation with “Well, thank you for being so helpful”. And I walked away without buying anything.

I was of course fuming but I remembered that there was a fishmonger on Tachbrook Street market, so I went there. He was lovely and very helpful. Just like in France, I didn’t need to ask anything and he even gave me a fresh Dover sole because he accidentally cut the head of one while skinning it (see, it is not THAT easy!). Which really didn’t matter, but he insisted to give it to me. For free. It was HUGE.

I couldn’t believe my luck: free coffee and free sole today. Today, I still feel like a million dollars. And guess what: I have never felt like this in France. Life is good!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

We had a few quiet months but right now it is coming back with a vengeance: I keep reading articles about ‘the French’ and how extramarital affairs are not that big a deal on the continent. It is not making my life any easier.
Some British men still blush when I talk to them, because of my accent. I don’t know what they are thinking. Maybe that I am hitting on them? That I ooze sensuality? That I fancy them? Next time, I will pretend that I am German. Or Swiss. Most middle-aged British men are not listening to what I say for the first five minutes (sometimes even longer). Then, usually, I get a comment like ‘you look very French’. I retaliate ‘you sound very British’. Or I just smile. Most of the time, I give up and try to work with women. Much easier. I used to find the whole thing flattering. Now, I am just tired of it.
Give me a break. Being French and a woman is a double whammy: you have got to fight against the sexist clichés AND the stereotypes against the French. You need a good dose of patience and it is important to keep things into perspective: it is a cultural thing, nothing personal. I have learned to ignore the winks and the smiles after an allusion to the behaviour of DSK and the likes.
In London, they make it sound like the French have invented extramarital affairs. All the articles usually paint an idyllic picture of open marriages and glorify women who swallow their pride while their husbands have a roving eye. Apparently, being unfaithful is not that big a deal in France.
What a load of rubbish!
Come on, the aristocracy in this country has had affairs for ages (just look at the Royal Family!), and it doesn’t have much to do with the French, does it? They did it all by themselves. Affairs are not the privilege of the French. Over here, there are plenty of website for married people who want to cheat on their partner. Such sites might exist in France but apparently it is not as big a business as over here.
I sometimes wonder whether such articles are written by frustrated journalists who would like to have the opportunity to stray but are too afraid to do so. Admiring the French for their perceived promiscuity is an easy way to forget their own frustrations.
What would we do without stereotypes? I once was offered an ashtray despite the fact that I don’t smoke. As I am French, people assume I smoke. Well, I don’t. I gave the ashtray to my then British boss, who was a smoker. Maybe I should have kept it to throw it against the wall when I get a silly and inappropriate question about whether my husband has a mistress -because, apparently, all French men do. Instead, I play it cool. I say ‘oh yeah, the three of us had lunch on Sunday, it was great. Actually, she is waiting for me in the car right now, she is giving me a lift to the spa. Must go’. Or I take the moral high ground: you don’t cheat on a woman like me!
And here is why I feel angry this morning: while I was writing this post during my morning coffee, a British guy wearing the mandatory stripey suit came to me and asked me whether I knew him from somewhere. I didn’t –I can’t even have my coffee without anyone bothering me, can you believe it? He even wrote his number on a napkin. I won’t post it (I hesitated). Great, on top of everything else, I need to change coffee shop.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Living in a foreign country is probably what keeps me (reasonably) grounded. In France I used to take some things for granted, such as the freshness of food and free schools. I had to learn (the hard way) that such things don’t necessarily exist everywhere. As a result, I am more grateful for what I have, and for some weird reasons I ended up being happier over here, in London. But I am far from being the only one to have had such experiences.

Meet Sonia, a (very fit and even more gorgeous) mum of 3 boys. Sonia lives in California (lucky her!).

When her teenage son started going off the track, she didn’t know what to do.  Would she send him away to try to go and sort himself out? Would she try to deal with the issue herself? Would she become depressed? Would she seek a family therapist?
Faced with such a situation, Sonia devised her very own innovative plan: she moved all the family to Belize for a year. Yes, Belize in the Caribbean…
Her move surprised everybody, but somehow worked. Having a different pace of life and having to deal with the unexpected made the whole family more close-knit, and also more grateful of the small things of life -you know, the stuff we often take for granted, such as medical care or food in your local supermarket. They eventually came back to California and thrived.
Sonia wrote a novel of her experiences, Freeways to Flip Flops ( click here for the US Amazon link and here for the UK one).


But there is more. This is the moment you have all been waiting for: Sonia agreed to be interviewed about her book and, as much as I didn’t want you to hear my strong French accent and my lack of media skills, I ignored my natural shyness (I am an Engineer after all, you see) and did it. Here is the result:

Sonia’s novel is about the difficulties of holding a family together, trying to accommodate everybody’s needs. How do you make it work? What do you do when things don’t work out as expected? It is also a book about expat communities abroad and how your fellow countrymen behave when they have settled abroad.
I enjoyed Sonia’s story, because she tells things in an honest, understated way. She explained, for instance, how to try to find the same food than at home, and how what works on the paper might be a bit more difficult to implement. Sonia’s book needs to be read slowly, chapter by chapter, to be fully appreciated. Her story is about resilience, and thinking outside the box to make it work. I highly recommend it.
Sonia’s story resonated with mine. Maybe all expats have something in common: they need to go out of their comfort zone and make the best out of it. If you have the opportunity to live abroad, grab it!



Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London