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Honestly, how condescending can you be? A French lingerie company has given tips to British women on how to be seductive. If you don’t believe me, well, you can have a look here. As you know, I have dual citizenship now (French and British). And, for some reason, I find the advice quite irritating. It ranges from the obvious ‘Be a lady’, to the plain ridiculous ‘Be feline’. Give me a break.

Why am I so angry with this? It is true that, whether we like it or not, this is the country of Bridget Jones’ granny pants and anyone walking through the local Marks & Spencer will find British knickers a bit dull, but very cheap given the quantity of fabric used.
I think that I am upset because this article implies that French women are sexier than their British counterparts. Is this true?
Once again, the perception that French women are sexy is deeply entrenched in the British mind. I never understood why, I suppose that’s just the way it is. It is probably better for French women (yes, that would be me too) to exploit the stereotypes rather than fight them. So yes, apparently we have a certain ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ and an apparent fragility that looks sexy. I had no idea that I had it but it comes with the passport, you see. But does it give the right to a lingerie company to lecture us on how to be sexier? No, absolutely not. And I hate to be patronised anyway.
And am I allowed to say that I don’t like their lingerie collection? Those photo shoots are just plain silly. As for the advice, well, excuse my French, but I find it plain rubbish!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Today, I would like to take you over to a post I have written on another site. It is a contest, and it would be great if you could like it on FB, share in on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn, or leave a comment. Every interaction counts, so don’t be shy and click here! On this note, I wish you all a great Easter week-end.
Merci d’avance!


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Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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Am I the only one to be exhausted? It simply never stops. Don’t believe the non-sense that things are easier for French mums. There is always a birthday party to go to, a play date to organise, an appointment to the doctor to remember, not to mention  keeping the household going with food and laundry. Just like every other mum, really. I wish I could have an uninterrupted night of sleep to recover but for whatever reason it never happens. There is always a kid coughing, or having a tummy bug, or screaming in the middle of the night because of a nightmare. And if I manage to grab a few hours of sleep, my little one wakes me up at 6am anyway because, you see, she is hungry. I wish I could give her some money for her to buy some breakfast outside but I can’t.
How do mums manage? How do you deal with sleep deprivation ? They say it gets better over time but that’s not true, is it? I fully understood the meaning of ‘being tired’ once I became a mum. There are nuances and depths in the word ‘tired’ that I didn’t even know existed. The relationship I am craving right now is the one with my pillow. Pillows are nice and warm. They don’t snore. They don’t wake you up. I love my pillow and I don’t like anyone else. Don’t count on me, I am not here for anyone, understood?
Drastic action was required. I can be creative. As I seem to be spending a lot of time in my car waiting for a child, a meeting, a call or something else, I decided to take my pillow with me to grab a few minutes of sleep on my back seat wherever possible. On the parking lot. At the school gate. Anywhere, really.  It worked at first. The main thing is not to forget the alarm, obviously, otherwise I would sleep for a long, long time.
So here I am, having a little snooze at the school gates when the parking attendant knocks at the car door to wake me up. What now? Is there a law against sleeping mums? Apparently there is, because my parking meter ticket fell off the windscreen. There is a conspiration against mums. I simply cannot win. It must be written somewhere that I can’t have a rest.
I stuck the ticket back, and smiled to avoid a fine. It worked (despite the huge bags under my eyes) and I thought that I could get back to sleep, only to be woken up by a policeman who enquired whether I was alright. Please, let me sleep. I am sure that he meant well. I am fine, thank you very much. Why doesn’t anyone accept that I need to sleep?

As for my relationship with my pillow, it is going from strength to strength. I am thinking of going exclusive. Just me and my pillow. How about you? How do you do it?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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From time to time, miracles do happen. For me, it happened yesterday. I was offered two free tickets to see ONCE, the musical, by Superbreak theatre breaks. As it feels like I have been hibernating  for a really long a time, I jumped at the opportunity and found a lovely girlfriend to hit the town.

We weren’t disappointed. First of all, the organisation of the evening was flawless, with someone waiting for me at the entrance of the Phoenix theatre whereas others were queuing in the cold to get their tickets. On top of this, the musical was, well, one of a kind. It is all in the title, really: ONCE. It is hard to explain, I am so used to big Hollywood blockbusters that I had probably lost the ability to be genuinely surprised.
ONCE is very simple, very understated and the scene is even a bar open to all spectators before the performance starts.  You really feel like you are in the middle of Dublin, listening to a talented but discouraged Irish busker. You feel for him. You barely understand what he says because of his accent. Then, he meets this Czech girl. She is a musician too. She oozes energy and can appreciate his talent. Apart from their love of music, they couldn’t be any more different. She turns him around.
Me being me, I thought: well, that’s what this show is about: a meet-cute. In pure rom com style, they are going to make fantastic music together, fall in love despite their cultural differences and live happily ever after. Sprinkle a bit of American dream on top of it and there you go: here is the new musical in town.
Well, I was wrong. I mean, partially wrong. The musical performances are fantastic, I certainly had this one right. Of course, it is a love story. Or rather, it is a story of unrequited love: between a man and a woman, and also between struggling human beings and music. It is a story about the choices we have to make and how sometimes the best route is not the easiest one. I am still haunted by a question : will they be happy with their respective choices? I kid you not: I am still thinking about it. ONCE simply feels real. And I keep thinking about this unfinished love story.
ONCE raises universal questions. We all have our luggage, but when is it time to drop it and start afresh ? ONCE is about what following your dreams entails, without any pomposity or self-pity. It is also about the help that we sometimes need to get to the next stage.
I am ashamed to say that I didn’t know that ONCE was a movie before becoming a musical. Apparently, it had its fair share of success in 2007. I feel like watching it now. Where the hell have I been all these years?

On this note, I leave you with “Falling Slowly”. Relax and enjoy!


Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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We have all had to deal with over sharers. Some love to share all the graphic details of their latest stomach bug. This is actually quite helpful if it is done over lunch, as you are sure not to be hungry for a while.
Others will give you all the details of their latest surgical operation. You will have a full explanation of their treatment, how the procedure went, how long it took them to recover, their state of mind, who visited at the hospital, and so on, and so forth. The thing is, I wouldn’t share such details with my close family, and I really don’t know what they are trying to achieve by sharing everything with everyone. I have even seen acquaintances sending long weekly emails detailing what had happened to them, with gruesome details. Lovely. Sometimes being kept in the loop is not that great.
That said, being French seems to induce a different type of over sharing. For some reason, people love to share their sex and relationship issues with me. It is quite funny really. I remember having a morning coffee with colleagues and one of them, out of the blue, told me that she was having an affair with a married man. She was asking for my advice. I didn’t know what to say. I muttered that, as long as it wasn’t with my husband, well, I didn’t care. I brushed it off. Frankly, I didn’t want to talk about it. She praised my non-judgemental attitude and I felt like running a mile away.
A few weeks later, a male colleague of mine, who just had had a baby, complained that he didn’t have any time to read with his wife in the evening, let alone do anything else. I almost choked on my chocolate croissant, muttered ‘give it some time’. I made my excuses and left. What is going on?
Why do people feel the urge to share such things with me? I wouldn’t tell them to my best friend. But the worst was yet to come. I bumped into a younger colleague of mine in a beauty salon. She explained to me in a very loud voice that she was going to have a Brazilian wax because her boyfriend liked it. Too much information. I politely nodded. Encouraged, she asked me what type of wax I was going to have. I panicked for a second and explained, in a low voice, that I liked the way the lady was doing the eyebrows shaping. It seemed to curb her enthusiasm.  I felt very embarrassed.
So here it is: I am not a relationship expert and I don’t want to be one. I am, in fact, quite shy. I like being discreet. Please, don’t tell me everything!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Is France stuck in the past? I am starting to wonder. Whenever I meet a French acquaintance, he or she asks me which university (‘grande ecole’) I have been to. Sometimes I even have to speak about my grades at the French baccalaureat. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems talking about this, but come on, it was a long time ago. I know that I still feel 15 in my head, but can we please move on? It is as if something you have achieved (or not) 20 years ago was the defining moment of an entire life. Give me a break.
But such an attitude is very deeply entrenched in the French mentality. I remember a French ‘friend’ who was really crossed because another friend, who had attended a slightly less selective university had had a promotion and not him. Shocking. He was ballistic. You need to respect the established order. The French universities’ league table is set in stone and one of the pillars of French society. Simply put, some schools can set you for life. That’s just the way it is and I am not sure that I like such a mindset. Not having anything to prove any more means that you can become an arrogant twit without having to suffer from any consequence of your behaviour. Lovely.
It is funny how people like to talk about something they understand and relate to. I was wondering whether the British were the same. I have never felt such an urge to know which schools I have attended over here, but maybe that’s because I am not British born. Things seem to be a bit more relaxed in London and -let’s say it- I feel less judged for my choices.
So tell me, are we really defined by our academic education? Come on, there has got to be something more than which schools you attended. Do you think because I attended the Daisies nursery my whole life will be ruined? Am I condemned to a life of lies and petty crimes?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Catching up with some friends over the week-end, I had the surprise of my life when one of them started staring at my torn denim pants, sighed, and said: ‘you are always dressed so stylishly’.
Just to clarify, I was wearing some dirty old pants that happened to be on top of my pile of clothes when I woke up far too early because for some reason my younger daughter always wakes up at 6 am and wants everybody to wake up at the same time.
I couldn’t believe it.  Then, I realised that it is all about perception. If you can’t fight clichés, then just embrace them and make the most of them! In fact, if can look stylish, it is living proof that everybody can look French –and therefore stylish. So fear not, dear reader, I have compiled a list that will make you look French in no time at all. Here it is:
     1.  Pretend that you have French relatives. Be convincing. Actually, convince yourself that you have French relatives. You can’t speak French because you were not brought up there, but you do have French roots. Of course you do.

     2. Whatever you wear, wear it with pride. Even if it is your dirty old denim pants, make it look like it is the latest Prada creation. I can promise you that it works.

     3. Buy a lovely French red beret in a shop (there are plenty around) and wear it all the time. Enjoy the looks of envy on the street!

     4. Do not hesitate to steal stuff from your teenage daughter wardrobe.  It is payback time: she didn’t think that she could get away with  all the mood swings, did she?

     5. A little bit of hair (moustache, armpits…) is OK. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about looking like a gorilla here. For some reason, only French women can get away with not being perfectly groomed all the time. What can I say, it is not fair, I know, but that’s just the way it is. It is all about looking as if you were not trying. And this no hair dictatorship is really annoying, don’t you think? Bushy brows are sexy anyway.

     6. The magic recipe for a French blow dry is as follows: wash your hair in the evening, dry it a little bit and go to bed. The next morning, you will look like a sensual goddess (90% of the time, I admit. But hey, on the bright side, you will have made HUGE savings!)

     7.  Less is more: the simpler, the better. Please avoid all flowery fabrics. Please. I beg of you.

     8. Don’t hide behind your clothes. Skinny? Overweight? Honestly, who cares? Just show that you are a confident woman. Ooze sensuality. Yes, you can do it! Look, I managed to look stylish despite waking up at 6 am on a Sunday and being in a bad mood. You have no excuses whatsoever. Absolutely none.

     9. Smile.  At least it will make you look happy.

     10. High heels are a pain but hey do help. Sad but true.
So, please try it out and tell me how it went…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

I often complain complain about the cultural differences between France and Britain. That said, some words transcend cultural boundaries. Here is an example : a ‘spring clean’ or ‘nettoyage de printemps’ has exactly the same meaning on both sides of the channel. There you have it: for once French and British agree wholeheartedly.
The weird thing is that I am in a ‘spring clean’ sort of mood. I don’t know what went into me, but, a few days ago, I woke up with a sudden urge to declutter my house. Time to tidy up, time to clean, time to get rid of old, unwanted stuff. As I am in such a mood once in a blue moon, I thought that I should make the most of it. And here I am, getting rid of old CDs and DVDs, giving old children clothes to various charities and trying desperately to find a place that would recycle my old printers (all three of them -I hadn’t realised that I had kept my printers since I was a student). Believe it or not, I couldn’t find anything around where I live.
Who knew we had so much stuff? I feel like I could open a shop for children’s clothes. And what should I do with my old sky boxes? I took it to Google and discovered that there are all sort of sites to get rid of what I have. But it takes a lot of time. And preparation. And I am not sure that I am good at it. I will get there, eventually!
I don’t know where this year’s spring clean is going to take me. That said, clearly, it is the start of a new phase!
  

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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me in London

Day in, day out, I keep being asked where I am from. I am sure that no harm is intended. After all, it is just small talks. I now reply that I am from London. What should I say? I have been living over here for the best part of a decade. Usually, after such a response, people look at me in a funny way. They want to enquire about my nationality but most don’t dare ask. Some do. My response doesn’t vary. “I am British”. You see, I am going to stick to my guns.  And then I will ask back: “How about you, where are YOU from?” It usually does the trick.


Don’t judge me too harshly. Again, what am I supposed to say? I have been told countless times that I look French. For some reason brunettes look French. My French accent is so strong that I sometimes have to repeat again and again what I have to say, only to be ignored after my umpteenth attempt. It makes me feel like I am crazy, which can be very funny but feels quite frustrating at times.  In short, apparently I have the sentence ‘I am French’ written all over me. If that’s the case, why do people keep asking the same question?  What difference does my country of origin make?
I am sure that this anodyne question is just a way to get to know me, or to try to define me. But here is the thing: where I am from doesn’t really define me. I happen to be French born. I am now living in London but I have spent quite some time in Germany too. And Indonesia. And I love New York. Where I am really from? Frankly, I don’t know. Right now, I am from London, but maybe soon I will be from some other country. So what? What is the big deal?

It is funny how people love to categorise others and hold on to little things that they believe they can handle rather than see a person for what he or she is.  Hey, guys, it is time to open up! So tell me: how do you deal with cliché and pre-conceptions? As for me,  well, let’s just say that I am becoming less and less patient.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /


Wasn’t spring supposed to arrive? We woke up this morning surrounded by a wall of fog. Then it started pouring again, and it lasted all day long. I feel cheated. This bad weather should be over by now.

On top of this, I seem to be spending most of my days running all over London because my daughters’ schools keep coming up with brilliant new ideas such as ‘oh, your children need to dress up as a book character tomorrow ‘ or ‘bake sale this Friday-please bring cakes’ or ‘next week project will be building a Viking boat in cardboard’ -as if an 8-year-old could do this. In France, you don’t get involved with schools except for drop-off and pick up. Bliss. Well, not over here.
Honestly, you could work full time -without being paid, of course-, running various errands for the school. It is simply too much. British mums are unsung heroes – they have to endure all the school initiatives and stay in a good mood. I am pleased to say that a few girls were not dressed up today -it proves that we are all humans. All these initiatives are supposed to be for your offspring’s own good. But where does it stop? And frankly, is it worth all the efforts? What has a Viking boat built by mum got to do with a child’s academic future?

Anyway, as I was running around, I witnessed a surreal scene. It was so unexpected that I didn’t even think of taking a picture. Two guys were hailing a black cab, in the rain. The taxi saw them and stopped. But they struggled to enter their surfboards in the car. Yes, you read that right: they had a surfboard with them, right in the middle of rainy London.
That’s exactly what I need: a surfing break. Am I the only mum who would like a holiday all by herself in a sunny place to take a break from the duties of being a mum? I dreamed about swapping places with them: they will find a costume for my daughter and I will go surfing somewhere warm surrounded by fit men. Happy Mother’s day, everyone!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London