Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Less is sometimes more. Ok, let’s say it, I am chuffed. It doesn’t happen that often, and I need to enjoy this moment. Let me tell you the whole story. I was at a restaurant with a couple of much younger girlfriends. This happens, like, twice a year because spending an evening with friends requires a special training in Project Management when you have kids, a job and a husband who has to travel a lot at a very short notice. Both my friends were incredibly well-groomed, with lovely blow dries, make-up and perfect manicures. Me being me, I was my usual self. This means that my hair was a mess, and my make-up virtually non-existent after a long day at work. I can’t remember whether I had had time for a quick top up. Probably not. As for a manicure, well, let’s just say that, in order to save time and money, I am doing it myself, when I think about it. My friends’ clothes were nice and well fitted. Lovely dresses with even nicer prints, all quite close to the body. Mine were very simple: white shirt, and black pencil skirt just above the knee line. As for hosiery, well, since it is almost June I got rid of it. Otherwise in London you need your woollen tights all year long. But I had high heels.
Anyway, this group of guys entered the restaurant. Honestly, they looked like kids to me (like, in their twenties) and I barely noticed them. One of my friends was all excited because she knew (and probably fancied) one of them. I didn’t blink an eye, I thought that they were an unwelcome distraction to what was supposed to be a much-waited girls’ evening. My friend’s acquaintance came to our table to say hello. She was all excited and almost blushed. Her voice was suddenly high-pitched. The guy then started staring and me and asked her whether she could introduce him to me. He then proceeded to quickly look at me (brief stop at the breast, then the face: men are all the same –so predictable!) and smiled, completely forgetting the other girl. He started to try to make small talks. I was very abrupt but it didn’t seem to deter him. I couldn’t believe it. He left eventually.
Both my friends were gutted; I am at least ten years older and probably a stone heavier than them. Why would a guy like this hit on me? Come on, they had tried so hard. On the paper, they were much better looking than me. What is going on?
Well, I don’t know. I speculated that it must be my French side. Or the fact that I didn’t care. Or maybe all this Bikram yoga has finally paid off.
Don’t understand me the wrong way: I don’t intend o become a cougar (not that there is anything wrong with being a cougar). It was nice not to be invisible, for once. But why? And why me? I will never know.
What can I say? Life is unfair. Get over it, girls!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /


So, tell me: why is the French kiss French? If appearances are to be believed, right now French kisses are probably from London, because there is a couple French kissing at every corner of every street in London. They are simply everywhere. Some even seem to be competing for the same spot. It must have something to do with the sun. I sincerely hope it does, because all this tongue showing is getting on my nerves. I am almost gald that it is raining today.
In fact, we French don’t even call the French kiss French. We call it to ‘kiss with the tongue’ or ‘rouler une pelle’, which could translate as ‘rolling a spade’. How poetic! In short, the French don’t even believe that French kissing is actually French. So why is it said to be French? Is it because the French are the best kissers? Is it because they invented French kissing?
Well, apparently not. A British friend of mine explain that her French boyfriend started turning his tongue around hers and felt like she was kissing a helicopter. Not nice. I think that she dumped him in the end. I totally understand, because a bad kisser is like a bad coffee, life is too short to tolerate either of them.
French kissing has been around much longer than France has existed, even if apparently it became even more popular at the start of the 20th century. Why would the French take the credit for it then?
What can I say? Life is unfair and this is simply another example of French taking the credit for something that they didn’t invent, just like revolution and Impressionism (I thought that impressionism was French until I visited the permanent Turner exhibition at the Tate Britain, and now I am not so sure).
I suppose that I should be happy with my home country being credited for so many things. Why do I feel slightly cheated then?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

I love food. Always have. Always will. I have a sweet tooth, I can’t do anything about it, that’s just the way it is.  I used to love all the French pastries until I ordered an ‘eclair au chocolat’ that was, in fact, full of whipped cream. Yak! That’s simply not how it is supposed to be. Chocolate eclairs need to have some chocolate inside. French pastry is not exactly the same in London. As a result, I had to find other delicacies and my personal favourites right now are Lebanese treats. I could kill for baklavas, knafehs and milk cakes.
Lebanese Treats: Yummy!

Imagine my surprise then, when, walking down High Street Kensington, I saw a shop window full of Lebanese sweets. And the smell…it was the smell of fresh Graybehs (flour cookies). I slowed down, mesmerised, turning my head towards the lovely shop, enjoying the smell of fresh biscuits and the view of such gorgeous cakes. Simply put, it was heaven. Just the sight of the treats was making me happy and I was toying with the idea of buying some for me.
I simply didn’t notice that a man was walking towards me, in the other direction. He slowed down when I started slowing down to admire the baklavas. I felt that something was wrong when he started starring at me a bit too intensively. That’s when it dawned on me: he thought that I was eyeing him, not the cakes. I couldn’t believe it. The sad truth is that I hadn’t noticed him at all. I was all focused on the sweets. I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like.
I didn’t know how to clarify the quid pro quo so I just told the truth. ‘Sorry, I was just looking at be sweets’. He walked faster, looking a bit disappointed, and I was rid of him. The whole thing only lasted about ten seconds but felt a lot longer, and I was very embarrassed.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and I forgot about wanting to buy the sweets, which I suppose is an added bonus. That said, it is very unlike me not to see a guy walking towards me and I am really wondering whether I need to get my eyes checked, or, worse, whether I need some hormonal supplements. What would you do? Has it ever happened to you?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /


Last week, I was having a cup of coffee with a friend of mine. She was at the end of her tether. How come? I asked. Well, she has a French boyfriend, you see. Everything is going well but there is something bothering her: he likes to wander stark naked in their apartment. All the time. She is not very comfortable with this. And the day before, he even went on the balcony -without his clothes on- to water the plants. When she confronted him, he simply didn’t understand what the big deal was. To him, being naked in his own flat is completely natural. And the balcony is part of the flat. Of course it is.
I listened politely and didn’t laugh. She was very worried. This is not good behaviour, you see. Memories started coming back to me. My neighbour, in Saint Tropez, spends the whole summer without any clothes on and we got so used to it that we were having whole conversations with her (we were fully dressed, for the record). I have to admit that I don’t notice her any more. My grandfather, who still has sharp eyes despite nearing 90, pointed out that she has new breast implants, and he doesn’t like them. Something is wrong with the shape, apparently.
I hate to generalise but, in France, being naked is less big of a deal. Young kids routinely go naked on the beach and nobody bats an eyelid. In short, I tried to reassure my friend and explain to her that it didn’t really matter. She was a bit more upbeat in the end. She was convinced that this was nothing more than a cultural difference. A job well done, I thought. I was very proud of myself. Silly old me.
I went to their flat yesterday to bring back a forgotten scarf. I knocked at the door, and was greeted by the said boyfriend. Stark naked of course. I kid you not. Well, I have to admit that I almost had a heart attack. I dropped the scarf on the floor and couldn’t get myself to get it back because that would have made my face even closer to you-know-what. I made my excuses and left as far as I could. I can’t believe that I was so patronising with my American friend. He does indeed take it to a whole new level. This whole nudity thing is a bit too much, even for me. I couldn’t make small talks as if he wasn’t naked. I just couldn’t. It was beyond me, don’t ask me why. Maybe I am getting older.
Or maybe I am more British than I thought. It simply was too much for me. It reminded me of a neighbour who used to put the rubbish out for collection in his underpants (see here). Not nice. I wasn’t expecting to see this. Don’t get me wrong, he is very good-looking and everything, but I can’t handle it. Note to myself: don’t defend French men any more. Ever.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /


Not much will happen in May. This is because nobody works in May in France. I have never really understood why, but the same thing keeps occurring every year. It has something to do with the fact that the 1st of May is a Bank Holiday, then the 8th of May, then the Ascension and finally Pentecost. In short, May is a very good time to take a few days of holidays, and they will be nicely complemented with the lovely official bank holidays. In France and nowhere else, obviously.

I have a lot to do for my business but nothing is happening. I have tried to call. I have sent various emails. I was even starting to wonder whether my email box was working –It was, I have sent myself a test email and all was fine of course. Nobody is answering. Radio silence. France is desert. I was asking some companies for various quotes and haven’t received any answers yet. It has been three weeks. Maybe I have to beg them to work for me? I am starting to wonder.


Things are slightly different in London, and people are eager to work over here, which is great. I get quotes as soon as I ask for them. I really hope that things will start to pick up soon, because this situation is starting to get on my nerves.

It feels like it is break time, except that I didn’t ask for it. On the positive side, I am putting all my things in order and came to realise that my electricity provider was invoicing me for another house, down my street… Guys: check the supply address of your bill; you might be surprised (as I certainly was). I called and, in pure British style, explained that I was very confused with the fact that the supply address wasn’t my home address. On the bright side, I am not paying anything until the mistake is corrected. On less bright a side, I now have to send all kinds of documents to sort everything out and for some reason they can’t change my details until end of June.  Bureaucracy is the same everywhere, right?

 I can’t wait for May to be over. I need some action here!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London, Politics /


There is something going on in London. You just have to walk through the streets of Hammersmith, Kensington or Chelsea to notice it: the French are everywhere. Despite the fact that the French government seems to be denying it, the French are coming to London ‘en masse’. This is an invasion. Just go to South Kensington tube station if you don’t believe me.

I am not too happy about this. The sad truth is, I used to feel thinner over here. Well, not any more. Lots of Femmes Fatales are walking along the streets and I feel like I have put on some weight, which is not nice. Nowhere is safe: London is becoming like Paris, full of lovely brunettes with long legs and stylish skirts. What’s next? The menus in the restaurants are all in French, they mention ‘amuse-bouche’ , ‘brioche’ and ‘a la carte’ dishes. Crepes are trendier than pancakes. Most of the waiting staff in Kensington is French, and most waitresses look like off-duty models. I am starting to feel overshadowed by the beauty of the lovely creature bringing my food. And, of course, we are all sipping cafes as opposed to coffees. London is rapidly becoming a French city.


Apparently, new French schools will open shortly, because the French lycee is over-subscribed. Such schools will follow the French curriculum. Being French-educated in London is very posh, despite the fact that you barely learn to speak English!  It is supposed to give your CV some cachet. I can’t believe it.

In London you can easily find French brands –at a premium, of course. And if you are not a French brand, it looks like having a French name does the magic too. I never really understood why, but a French word is likely to increase your profits. Look no further than Agent provocateur: it is a British brand selling lingerie at a premium. Simple but effective.

What I love most is when French tourists are asking me for directions. I tend to reply in French to save them the embarrassment of speaking English. They thentell me that ‘My French is Excellent’. How funny.

The French seriously considered invading London during the 18th century.  Their various attempts were all unsuccessful. No need to send an army to invade Britain: just raise the taxes and all French will flock to London. And it is happening now.
C’est la vie.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /


Well, for once, I think that I miss France. Am I allowed to say that being a mother is so much easier over there? In London, being a mum can be, well, challenging. Nothing is designed to help you.
Let’s start with the delivery of your baby. In France, you will be able to recover in hospital for a few days and, if you want, your baby will be taken care of during the night. Well, in London you will be kicked out after a day. Then, you are on your own. If you are lucky, a health visitor will come to visit you every other day, but most of the time they are too busy to bother anyway.
In France, you will be offered free physiotherapy sessions to get your flat tummy back. In London, well, you have no help to get back in shape. It is entirely up to you, but as you will have a lot on your plate, it is likely to be very low on your priority list.
I am starting to believe that there is a conspiracy against mums over here. For starters, the cost of childcare is prohibitive (twice as much as in my home country, as a rule of thumb).  The worst is, as far as I am concerned, the opening hours of the schools and nurseries. It is simply a joke. Basically, nurseries usually open at 9.15/9.30 and, before you child is 4, they will only keep him or her during the morning, or until 11.30 am. Yay! You have been kindly given two whole hours of freedom. It is hardly going to help you get back to work, isn’t it?
In France, you can start school at 2 or 2 and a half and they will keep your child from 8.15/8.30 to…4.30 pm! And the best part is that it is completely free. I can assure you that my daughter was not traumatised at all with such long days. She was running to school every morning and I had to follow, half asleep.
That said, every cloud has its silver lining, right? In France, everything is taken care of, everything has been designed to help you, and there is, in general, little need for additional support. As it is clearly not the case over here, mums have to build a network of support. All mums know and help each other, and I can always count on another mum to pick up my daughter if I am stuck somewhere. We all cover for each other. We even lost weight together after the birth of my younger daughter. Simply put, we are on the same boat and I have found a solidarity that I didn’t have in France, which is nice.
Wherever you live, there is a group of mums ready to help with local information and to provide some support. In my new neighbourhood, I found Kensington Mums, a site run by Dina. And the dynamic Dina is organising a Kensington Mums Motherhood exhibition on the 7th of June. If you are around, you are welcome to join. I decided to participate and it was good fun (you will see on the day…). I can’t help thinking that such an initiative wouldn’t have happened in France.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wish that London schools had a sibling policy, the same holidays and longer opening hours. But at least, in London, I have friends and shoulders to cry on when it all gets too much!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

It is all over the news in France but for some reason nobody has reported it over here. A MP has asked how much Valerie Trierweiler, the current girlfriend of French president Francois Hollande, was costing the French taxpayer. The response was very diligently published on an official website (see here) : if the figures are to be believed, Valerie Trierweiler is costing a bit less that 20 000 € per month whereas the former First Lady Carla Bruni (who for some reason is not explicitly named) was costing more than 60 000€ per month. Right. So, what do we make of this?
Well, not much really. There is a big debate in France about whether Valerie Trierweiler is really a First Lady, because she is not married to the president. They haven’t even filed a joint tax return, which, according to some, only makes her the ‘official mistress’ (‘la favorite’). Right then, maybe a mistress is cheaper than a wife. As a pragmatic friend of mine pointed out, the problem with mistresses is that you can have more than one. It reminded me of an earlier decision of Francois Hollande: he cut the ministers salaries by 30% but increased the number of ministers from 20 to 34, and I have never understood whether there was a saving for the taxpayer in the end. Figures are never to be believed because, in France, the definition of an independent audit remains unclear, and costs are presented in a misleading way (e.g.: unit cost and not total costs if we take the example of the number of ministers).


So, what can we make of the comparative costs of the First Ladies/Mistresses/girlfriends?

I am not so sure. France has a long tradition of having a king initially, then a President with a roving eye. Francois Mitterrand even had the taxpayer foot the bill of a second family on the side. There is nothing new here. I think that, if a meaningful comparison must be made, then some ground rules must be established. I have come up with an initial set. Feel free to add to the list. The costs will include:
– the wife and all actual mistresses and girlfriends, their accommodation and other advantages (bodyguards, jobs offered to them, etc…)
– the cost of getting rid of all the exes (or keeping them at arm’s length, if you want)
– the surveillance of potential new girlfriends (sometimes Presidents use their prerogatives to listen to their phone conversations and try to get to know them before making a move…)
– the costs of all the lovely meals in even lovelier restaurants to seduce new targets
– the cost of redecorating new official residences once a relationship is finished and a new conquest wants to erase all traces of the old one.
Did I forget anything?

What I am just trying to say is that we must be careful what we wish for here. Too much information might sometimes hide the real points at issue here (i.e. France is going back into recession). Don’t get me wrong, as a taxpayer, I find the cost of any First Lady/girlfriend/mistress too high. I don’t understand what we get in return and I am sure that there is more to the costs than what is shown anyway (knowing my home country, it is only the tip of the iceberg). But please, can French politicians just get back to work on the real issues ? As for wife or mistresses, well, I don’t care as long, as I don’t finance such a lifestyle. Come on guys, back to work now. Please.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /


In a big city like London, there are unwritten rules to walk, get off the Tube, hail a cab or even catch a bus. You need to realise that living here is a well-oiled choreography. If you don’t know the dance, you will feel strangely out of place, with people looking at you in a funny way or sighing noticeably when you walk past them. This is the sign of an urban faux-pas aka a missed dance step. You haven’t done things properly. To make matters even worse, the urban choreography is different in Paris. No wonder it took me so long to get it right.
For instance, in Paris if you want to catch a bus you need to lift your whole arm above your shoulder and waive vigorously. If you do this in London, people will think that you are, well, slightly weird, and possibly completely mad. This is because over here you need to keep your arm close to your hip and lift it a bit. That’s all. That’s also why I always had a seat on the bus initially : people probably thought that I was a bit deranged. Well, I have learned my lesson and I am now doing things the right way (at least that’s what I think), and usually I have no seat any more, which tends to prove than I don’t stand out.
Likewise, let’s say that you are on a packed metro in Paris and need to get off at the next station. The proper etiquette is to push everybody who dares to stand in your way and mutter ‘Pardon’ (‘I’m sorry’). Everybody will understand and if you don’t do it in this very order (i.e. push, shove and then vaguely apologise) you simply might miss your station. Now you are warned.
Things are slightly different in London. You need to close your bag, stand up if you are seated or simply do something that indicates that you want to get off and people will usually magically let you get off, some will even go on the platform to let you out. Failing this, just say a very clear ‘excuse me’ and the person in front of you will usually answer that he or she is getting off at the next station too. Unbelievable.
The list of choreographic differences is simply endless, and it is far too easy to get it wrong. Because of such choreographic differences, I witnessed a funny situation no later than this morning. Two cars were coming in opposite directions and wanted to turn on their respective righthand sides. Over here, you pass the other car on the outside. But in France, for a similar manoeuvre, you need to pass the other car on the inside (this means that you almost have to turn around the other car). One driver wanted to do it it the British way, and the other the French way. They started tooting their horn, because each of them was convinced that he/she was right. I wonder whether they managed to turn in the end. I need to see whether they are still there. If an accident had happened, do you think that you could argue that the cause was a cultural difference? I wonder what the insurance company would say.
In short, even after the best part of the decade, I feel that I am still learning. It is a never-ending process.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London