Posted by / Category London, Travel /

That’s it, we are at the airport lounge, waiting to board. It feels a bit like the summer hols, except that it is Christmas. 

How confusing! I have always dreamed of going to Oz, and it is finally happening.

I have carefully packed my beauty products to look presentable when we arrive. You can take the woman out of France, but not France out of the woman, I suppose. I especially like a bit of Argan oil to hydrate the skin and make the hair less puffy. I hope that it will work…it will be a long long flight…

I love traveling. It must be in my genes. So, will I love it? What’s next? I have no idea…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

I am going to the other side of the world…

As an expat, packing up is one of my favourite activities. I love packing up to go somewhere, and I have to do it a few times every year. I am now an expert at travelling light -I usually manage to fit everything in my hand luggage to avoid queues at the airport, and everybody in the family is so used of doing it that it has become a second nature. And travelling light is a good excuse to indulge in some shopping at your destination anyway. Just saying.

I also love packing up little bottles of my creams and lotions  -I usually buy them at Muji. When I get bored and can’t sleep, I start my impromptu spa session. The looks of fellow passengers is priceless. 

” Great, I have a bimbo next to me.”

A French woman’s got to do what a French woman’s go to do, Darling. Oh, and go easy on the wine, please. I will never understand what the point of getting drunk on a plane is anyway. So uncivilised, right?

The Christmas presents have been sent, the house is (sort of) tidied up, everything is as ready as it will ever be. 

I am so excited that I can barely think of anything else. We are leaving tomorrow.
There are some exciting news coming soon. It will be HUGE (I kid you not), so watch this space. Oh, and if I am a bit sloppy in posting, check out my newly revived Instagram account: @FrenchYumMummy

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Post-Run Yoga. 

No need to buy expensive perfumes. Ditch the complicated clothes. Today, I had a revelation: some men like sweaty women. Seriously, I wonder why we bother to wash at all.

Let me explain: I was running in Hyde Park, with my beanie and fluorescent top. Today was my long run (10k), and as a result I was quite sweaty. Frankly, I didn’t run to get noticed. I was running to stay in shape.  

I was nearing the end of the run when this guy appeared from nowhere, walking his dog. I heard him shout at me:
‘Oi, sexy!’
What? There wasn’t anyone else. Could he be talking to me? I ran that little bit faster because I thought he might be some sort of weirdo, and tried to make sense of the whole situation.
There wasn’t anything remotely sexy about me. He must have been in his twenties. Seriously? I didn’t know that sweaty could be sexy but I suppose that i am still learning.

So here it is. Repeat after me: you are sexy even when dripping sweat and no make-up on. At whatever age. What a revelation!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Me, 10 years ago. Have you noticed the smile?

A conversation with a Twitter friend triggered some sort of identity crisis. Basically, he told me that he would love to read about what changes my French friends and family noticed in me, now that I had a British passport. What a difficult question! First of all, my friends might not be the same than 10 years ago. I have lost touch with some old friends, and rediscovered others. Overall, I think that they find me happier and funnier, because I do things I like, now that I am (slightly) older, and that I care less about other people’s opinion. That said, I don’t think that I have really changed. Except maybe for the following:
1. I keep being told that my driving has changed. Truth be told, I am a lot less aggressive at the wheel. You see, I am from the South of France, and it used to be common practice to show your middle finger to another driver who had annoyed you. I don’t do it anymore. Frankly, I couldn’t. I became a lot calmer. So much that my own grandfather wondered what was wrong with me when I let an elderly driver pass before me despite the fact that I had priority the other day. He wanted me to accelerate.

I told you I was much happier in London…

2. My French friends and family go to the doctor all the time. I don’t do this any more. When I go to my GP -which happens on average once every two years-, I am really sick. My parents go to their physician as soon as they have a cold, or heavy legs, or a stiff shoulder, or whatever… They want a prescription, lots of pills and possibly antibiotics. My own mother once drunk a bit to much rose wine in the summer sun, and got really worried when she passed out for a few seconds. She immediately saw a consultant who did a Rmi scan. When he couldn’t see anything wrong, he decided to do a second one. No need to have been to a medical school to know that it is called the one-to-many-glasses syndrome, right? I found the whole episode ridiculous.
3. I am also less obsessed with my children’s academic achievements. I just want them to be happy, and have a good work ethic. The French all want their kids to go to ‘classes preparatoires’, the very selective universities that are supposed to give you a job for life. I am struggling with such a concept, because I believe that the degree you get at 22 doesn’t define your whole life. Education is meant to discover who you are, right? I find the British system more open-minded.
That said, despite the fact that over here, in London, I am more relaxed about the way I dress, I don’t want to let myself go and look like the back of a bus. Maybe it is my French side. I try to take care of myself by not putting on too much weight, for instance. I still like to look good. In short, I do care about appearances.
Some changes are more subtle and happened gradually. Ok, I will come clean here: I don’t have croissants for breakfast any more. Shocking, right? Nowadays, I prefer scrambled eggs. It makes me feel fuller for longer…does it mean I am British by now? I wouldn’t be so sure.

So what do you think? What does all of this make me? French or English?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Not My Street, But Seriously, Would You Be Bothered By A Green Roof?

Is it a British thing? Is it this time of the year? I don’t know, but, clearly, the snide comment is back with a vengeance.

I find it really annoying, because it takes me ages to figure out what it is that people really mean when they indulge in such remarks. Unfortunately, yesterday was no exception.
I bumped into a neighbour on the street and he asked me whether we had leaks on our roof. I was quite surprised and answered that no, we didn’t, thank you very much.
He then told me that ‘there was a forest up there’ and ‘he thought that the pipes might get clogged’. Aha! (Lightbulb moment for me)…The real issue was that he didn’t warm up to my green roof. He couldn’t care less about us having leaks. No, he had to make a comment disguised in a false concern. Come on, it says more about him than about me, right?

My Green Roof: Is It That Bad?

Here is the thing: we are the only ones on the street to have a green roof, as well as solar panels. I love it because it reduces my energy bills a lot, and it is environment-friendly. The thought that someone might not like it simply hadn’t crossed my mind. The installation was of course properly accepted by our local council, and you can’t see anything from the street. You might see some vegetation when you stand on the roof of another house, but roof terraces are supposed to be forbidden around the area. And a little vegetation wouldn’t kill anyone, right? Or so I thought.
But there you go: being the only one with a green roof and solar panels on the street is like being the only French woman in a meeting: you will get some reactions, and sometimes some abuse. In short, you will get misunderstood.
I explained to him that the vegetation was there on purpose, and that green roofs were very popular in Germany an Sweden. I also added that we had solar panels, and that we absolutely loved them.
I then proceeded to thank him for his concern, and went. Suffice to say that he didn’t seem convinced.
What should have I done?

Don’t get me wrong, I respect the fact that he doesn’t like it. I disagree with such a stance obviously, but I respect it. What I can’t stand is the way the comment was made. If he had been direct, and said that I should have a look up there, and cut the grass a bit, I would have apologised and checked the roof.

So tell me, what did I miss? How do you feel about green roofs? And how do you deal with snide comments?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Picture by Alejandra Moral

When you are French, as I happen to be, you are supposed to look good effortlessly. Of course you are. Did I tell you that I wake up already made up? No seriously, this is how I look in the morning. As in, first thing every morning. Of course, right? So very French. So very perfect. So very me.

And what about this myth that we French women don’t put on weight? I will deny that I run in the park three times a week and go to the gym. No, of course I don’t need it. 

It is all in my genes. I am slim naturally.

I will also deny that it took Anastasia Parquet an hour and a half to prepare me and the professional photographer Alejandra Moral to do the shoot. Of course I will. We French women are used to deny, deny, deny. That’s what we do.

Because I told you so: effortlessly. That said, I am very pleased with the pictures. Because, at 42, it’s not too bad, right?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

was warned: in the school bulletin, the headmistress promised an ‘action-packed’ week. Today, I barely had time for lunch, because somehow my daughter was finishing even earlier than usual (how was it even possible?). But all was not bleak: while queuing at the post office, I overheard the conversation of the British couple in front of me.
Tweed man: “Darling, I need a new pair of long johns”
Wife-in-yellow:”Don’t worry dear,  I will buy you a pair at John Lewis for Christmas”
I was puzzled. Despite having lived more than a decade in London, I didn’t know what long johns were. I googled it quickly on my phone, and understood that long johns are thermal underwears for men.

I was stunned. If I were to give long johns to my husband as a present, he would think that I am filing for divorce. Come to think of it, my 90-year-old grandfather used to have a pair of those. A long time ago. My grandmother threw them away.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for long johns if you are leaving for the Siberian tundra, but otherwise I think wearing long johns is the male equivalent of wearing M&S granny pants: it should be considered as unreasonable behaviour in divorce cases. Any guy wearing some would be responsible for the breakdown of the relationship.
Seriously, do British men still wear long johns? No way. Tweed man certainly did. Was he an exception or the rule? I had no idea. How come I didn’t know?
I eventually sent my presents to friends and family in France. Suddenly, I felt an urge to know more about long johns, and went to M&S further down the road to have a proper look at them. I wanted to understand what all the fuss was about.

I quickly came to my senses, and my pragmatic side took over: long johns would actually be cheaper than leggings. So I did what I had to do. I bought a pair of long johns. My first, and probably my last pair. 
A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. What about you, what would you do with long johns? 
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

My car As The James Bond Villain (I wish!)

Well, that got your attention, right? The reality is that I am having a terrible week. Seriously, there is something new with the schools every day, and I can’t take it any more: Christmas fair, Christmas jumper, Christmas hat, Christmas donation, Christmas panto, and so on, and so forth. Where does it stop? 

“But the kids love it sooooo very much, Darling!” said Boden mum with a huge fake smile, trotting in her chic ankle boots.
Well, it must be my French side, but I don’t. I didn’t say anything but managed my best fake smile back, and felt very dressed down with my black leggings and cowboy boots.

To make matters even worse, there is an unofficial competition on our street: each house needs to try to have the best Christmas decorations. Suffice to say, we are losing. One of the neighbours down the road had the whole shebang delivered by a truck: four reindeers, Santa Claus climbing on the windows with a huge bag full of presents, stars, illuminated Christmas trees in the front garden…Seriously? I can’t take it any more. If it were down to me, I would move right away to a remote island in Nova Scotia, and spend the next six months or so on my own, without talking to anyone. Pure bliss.

Anyway, here I was, attending my umpteenth Christmas play. I knew the lines by heart, and the inevitable happened: I started daydreaming. Yesterday, they announced the title of the next James Bond movie: Spectre. James Bond is my favourite British institution.I started to think of what the plot could be. I would love to be the villain in the next James Bond movie. The French accent would work a treat, right? Come on, I could be the new Sophie Marceau. Daniel Craig would of course try to seduce me, and I would give him such a hard time. Getting back to reality was hard, and I couldn’t help yawning. Things went from bad to worse when one of the girls who was supposed to appear on stage went missing, and all the parents had to wait while the headmistress was looking for her. I had this irresistible urge to yawn again and again. And again. Boden mum was looking at me angrily. I was in trouble. What to do? I started rubbing my eyes like mad to try to stay awake. My James Bond moment had gone. Damn it. 

The play finished eventually. Still thinking of 007, I stood up. Boden mum asked me whether I had enjoyed the evening. I hate lying, and she had probably guessed the answer anyway. That said, I didn’t have to say anything, because American mum bumped into us and told me that she loved my smokey eyes. It was probably because of all this eye-rubbing, I thought to myself.

It is official: when you are a French woman, you can get away with anything: black smudge on your eyes is a stylish make-up.

I just smiled and thank them both. One less Christmas play, still a few fairs to go to. How do mums survive the festive season?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /

It will be an unusual Christmas for us, because the whole family is going to Brisbane and then Sydney during the holidays. It will be my first time down under, and I am getting more excited by the day…I simply can’t wait! I have had enough of the cold, the rain, and the fog.

As it looks like this year is a bit, well, exceptional, I wanted to do something different in London too. Usually, we go to a panto or attend a Carol service. This year, we headed to Westfield Stratford to try out a new Christmas attraction called The Hidden House (#HiddenHouse).

It is hard to explain what The Hidden House is about, and the words that come to me is that, to cut a long story short, it is deliciously scary. I had a great time. Children need to be at least 8 to take part. Basically, you need to find Little Red Riding Hood, and to help you do this you will encounter live actors and you will have to find your way through a maze. It is really nicely done. The whole attraction lasts 10 minutes or so but I still remember some scenes very vividly indeed…Now you are aware!

My 9-year-old found it incredibly scary. She begged us to go home, but ended up being very proud of eventually finding Red. That said, as it was my birthday when we did it, the whole family insisted on me going first. Of course they did. This means that I had to deal with the riddles, the dark and the actors bursting in the small rooms. There was a notable exception: at one point, one of the actors joined us in a dark room from behind. My husband turned around quickly, and almost hit him. Acting can be dangerous -poor guy!

Today, I am back to the old routine, and Christmas preparations are in full swing. I seem to be spending my time helping the schools for all the Christmas fairs. I need to come clean here: in France, I don’t remember having to do anything for such fairs. And parental involvement was minimal anyway. In short, I don’t really like it.

While volunteering to help the preparation of one of the stands, there was an argument between the responsible of the tombala and the mum in charge of the raffle.
If it was down to me, I would send everybody to the Hidden House. Problem solved. What about you? How do prepare Christmas?

Please note that I have teamed up with Westfield to write this post.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Picture By Alejandra Moral, hair & make-up by Anastasia Parquet
BREAKING: I am featured as a ‘celebrity guest blogger’ with ActionAidUk. Read here.  Woohoo!

Have you noticed that, the older you get, the more you are judged? Especially when you are a woman, people feel entitled to have an opinion on how you live your life, how you are bringing up your children, why you should have kids if you don’t have any, why you should be married/single/divorced, and so on, and so forth. It just never stops. And, if you ask me, it is even worse when you are French. We French judge each other all the time. I remember a British colleague visiting us in Paris. She always had perfectly manicured nails. One of the assistants said, behind her back of course: well, she clearly has too much time on her hands (pun intended).

Well, enough is enough, I say.
I might be 42 but the sky is the limit. The thing is, I have never felt better. As a result, I have decided to do things that I have never done before. So here it is: I have decided to do a photoshoot revealing my sexy side. Something tasteful of course, because we French like to suggest rather than show. I think that it is a lot more powerful. Sorry, guys.
Alejandra is photographed by Christa Meola

Meet Alejandra Moral. She is a Spanish photographer living in Germany. She yearns to reveal the beauty of women, no matter what colour, age or shape. And she excels at it, doesn’t it? I think that it is the start of something big. A revolution. It is called #MySexySide. Alejandra travels around Europe to take pictures of women. This means that you can even host #MySexySide in your city. I love the concept.
We met at a small flat in Barnes. I had had too many coffees. You see, I was nervous. I had never done such a photoshoot before. The lovely Anastasia Parquet did my hair and my make-up. She told me off because my skin was so dry. Once she was done, I felt different. To be fair, I was. And it showed on the first picture.
There is more to come. A lot more, in fact…

So what do you think? Do you recognise me?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London