Posted by / Category London /

Street Art In Brick Lane

I am often asked why I love London so much. After all, I was born and bred in France, right? Of course I was, but I must admit that I love London. It is difficult to know why, because I usually know why I don’t like something, but never exactly why I actually like something (or someone, but that’s another matter…). It must me my grumpy French side. Anyway, I decided to give it a little try. Here are the three main reasons why I love London.

Picture By Alejandra Moral, Prep Anastasia Parquet

1. In Paris, I feel fat. In London, I feel skinny.

Basically, just by crossing the Channel, I have become some sort of style icon. What’s not to like? The thing is, I am not skinny. I am not obese. Just like most women, I am somewhere in the middle. I am also very normal, middle-class, and incredibly low maintenance: I stick to a strict ‘no botox and loads of hydrating cream’ maintenance regime, which suits me just fine. Last week, when I was walking on the street to run a few errands, something unexpected happened: a lady stopped and asked me whether I was Juliette Binoche. The question surprised me more than a bit, because Juliette Binoche is absolutely gorgeous, and one of my all-time favourite actresses. I was of course flattered. We seem to share a similar haircut and a love of chocolate. Me, because I just love eating it, and her because she played in a movie called ‘Chocolate’, but, frankly, the resemblance doesn’t go any further. Trust me on this one. I muttered something like: “No, not at all” and smiled. I grinned because I was flattered, obviously: Juliette Binoche is simply great. The woman was observing me, and didn’t seem to buy it. I thought that the French accent had betrayed me. She was convinced that I WAS Juliette Binoche. Except that I was not. No, really. I would have liked to be, but I was definitively NOT Juliette Binoche. I walked away, and I think that she was on the verge of asking me to sign an autograph. The whole episode made my day.There must be something in the air in London: in Paris, I feel normal. Over here, because I am a French woman, I feel special, and I even do the occasional modelling job (Watch this space, TV commercial is out soon!).

Turner Autoportrait

2. The Permanent Turner exhibition at the Tate Britain.

Being French, I was taught about the impressionists, but never about Turner. What a mistake! Turner is a precursor, a genius. For an exhibition like this in Paris, the queue would be at least a mile long. Between me and Turner, it was love at first sight (I mean, painting). I used to go to the Tate Britain every day, usually during my lunch break, until I realised that I was falling for a dead painter. I am trying to go once a month now. You see, I am still in recovery. I found out, eventually, that between me and him it was an impossible love. But I still have a soft spot for him, I must admit.

Graffitis In Brick Lane


3. There is always a surprise around the corner
I like walking in London, because you never know what you will discover. London has many different layers; it is simply impossible to get bored here. For instance, if you go for some shopping in Brick Lane you will be amazed at the fantastic graffitis all over the facades. It is simply mind blowing. I ended up spending my whole time taking pictures of all the art works, and almost forgot to shop. Keep your eyes open when you are walking: suddenly, you see a pitted wall, because it was bombed during WW2, or a blue plaque explaining that someone you admire used to live here. Over here, it is all about keeping an open mind! London is also a maze. Wander through the street of Mayfair, and turn in a narrow dark alley. You will find some of the oldest pubs of England. Relax, have some gin. The time has stopped, you just need to have fun…There is nothing quite like getting lost in London!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Right. Where do I start? One of my most read posts happens to be ‘how to date a French man‘, and several of you have asked me to write something similar on French women. I gave in. So brace yourself: here is my checkered advice on how to date French women. 

Wedding Bells Anyone?

1. The rules are: they are no rules

We French don’t have a dating process, with rules about what you can or can’t do at each specific date. It is entirely up to you to make up your own rules. Be as different as you want. Or play it safe. It is your choice. Your prerogative, really. If we like you, you’ll know it. This much I know.

2. Sort yourself out before dating a French woman. I am not joking here. First of all, there is nothing worse than a guy who has unresolved issues, and believes that everything will be alright as soon as he finds a girlfriend, French or not. We women are not emotional crutches. Furthermore, we French woman are, well, harder work. We can be sometimes intense, and sometimes light-hearted. It depends. We want you to commit to us, and if you don’t we might emotionally blackmail you. We get what we want. We fight with our own weapons, and you don’t stand a chance. We will bring the tears on if need be. You are in for a passionate journey -now you are warned.

3. Don’t over share. What is it with British guys and over sharing? As soon as they hear that we are French, they feel compelled to confide in us. One day, a British colleague of mine who had just had a baby told me that he and his wife were too tired to read at night ‘let alone do anything else’. I almost choke on my croissant. Some guys feel compelled to tell us everything about their exes, their shared custody arrangements or even their rare genetic disease (which is why he needed a girl like me, because of my healthy genes -a true story). Women need to dream before being caught up by the harsh reality of your life. Give them some space to do so, listen to them, and make them feel special. Leave the ex factor for later. Unless she asks first, that is. I told you, there are no rules.

4. Take the initiative. Call it old-fashioned, call it sexist, but we expect the guy to be in control. If we don’t know where to go for dinner, you need to be able to make a decision. And fast. We expect you to pay, or at least to suggest you will (I personally like sharing the bills but I find it nice when the guy suggests that he will pay, even if I don’t let him usually, because I am a modern woman).

5. Be kind. Not too kind, because for instance, if you start crying when we cry, it will make us feel ill-at-ease. After all, we expect men to be men. But personally I find kindness incredibly sexy. Because, truly, we want to feel special in your company, and that’s what kindness does for you.

6. Don’t wear tweed. Please. And no, hoodies are not cool. French women love men, not boys.

7. We French don’t have tea when we argue. We much prefer (children look away) make-up sex.

8. Just be yourself. Because you want someone who will accept you the way you are.

On this note, I wish you the best of luck. And if I have missed anything, feel free to add a comment.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Looking Good /

Picture by Alejandra Moral. Prep Anastasia Parquet. I told you, I am not skinny.

From time to time, I meet up with friends and, inevitably, we talk about losing weight. Because women of all shapes and ages seem to be obsessed with their weight. Go figure. And when I dare say that I don’t really care about it, they reply:
“- But it’s so easy for you, you are French. French women always stay slim.”
I so wish it were true. Seriously, I didn’t know that being French came with mandatory instructions to stay slim, but here we are. And apparently, it is easier for us. But is it really?

So, what is the secret of French women to stay slim? There are books about this. Seriously? Well, here is a newsflash for you: there are fat women in France too. 

I thought about this statement long and hard. I came to the conclusion that the main difference between us and our British counterparts is that there is more pressure on we French women to look good. Even if we are older, or just had a baby, we are expected to look after ourselves. This means that we will continue to wear make up and nice clothes, and try not to balloon. It is ingrained in us. My mother bought me a silky red nightie the day of the birth of my first daughter. She said that it was for me to look good on the pictures. I was shattered, and got so ill that I don’t remember much of what happened, just that I needed to look good. So much for being French!

Galette Des Rois

But I digress. To me, this ‘obligation’ to look after myself means that if I overindulge a bit (which happened recently with the lovely epiphany cakes), I am going to eat less the next day, to compensate a bit. It is common sense, really. As I stuffed my face over the weekend, I ate a bit less yesterday, and today all is back to normal. My point is, if I need to lose weight, I am not going to wait indefinitely to do it. I am going to do it as soon as possible. I am going to take action immediately. It is all about losing a little extra weight now, as opposed to having to lose a lot more later. Again, it is common sense.

I exercise a lot (it doesn’t need to be something big, but I try to do something every day, even if it is just a bit of walking or tidying up the garden). I don’t smoke. Never have. Never will. Not very French, I know. I have heard many times over that French women smoke casually to cut their appetite, but frankly most of my friends don’t smoke. 

I try not to have too much sugar. Here is a little trick that I will share with you -It usually stops me from stuffing my face with bread or sugar- : I always start a meal with proteins. This means that, in a restaurant, if I am hungry, I will not eat all the bread or have all the crisps. I will wait for the prawns, or the fish, or whatever. And the beauty of having proteins is that it makes me feel fuller. No need to stuff my face. And I like real food: no shakes/substitutes or whatever. It is all about quality and not quantity, right? And yes, I love champagne, chocolate and I have a piece of cake from time to time. After all, I am not French for nothing.

But the main thing is to do what I like. Because having fun is the best diet of all, right? So next time, I will tell my friends that they need to enjoy their lives more. You can’t get wrong with having more fun! Go try it!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

As wise as an owl…

Right, it is time to stop worrying about potential attacks, terrorism, and so on, and so forth…Because worrying doesn’t help anyway. All we can do is live our life to the full, and report any threat. I have therefore concocted 10 ways to get your mojo back, the French way. And I hope I will get mine back. Anyway, I am working on it. Working really hard, actually. So, shall we get started? Who’s with me on this?

1. Be fabulous 
Wear red clothes, or whatever flatters your complexion. Smokey eyes, glossy lips. Just be your own fabulous self. And shine. Because you just do. And if you don’t have it, flaunt it!

2. Pay a compliment to someone
Today, force yourself to be kind. The French way would be to tell a colleague that he or she looks very sexy. It might get you into hot water. Just do it your way. Unless you fancy him/her, obviously (in which case it might be time to go for it -Just a thought)

3. Have a great meal
How about eating something you really like? Now is a good time, if you are a Francophile, to have an Epiphany cake (‘galette des rois’), a cake stuffed with grounded almonds (Yummy!). I would know, I kept stuffing my face with it today. I told you, I am working on getting my mojo back. It’s for a good cause.

4. Hang Out With Positive People
Avoid point scorers and snide-comments experts. Have some fun. We French usually are a lot of fun. If you are single and are looking for a bit of fun, go out with some French hotties. You might even have more fun than you bargained for…enjoy, and stay safe!

5. Get physical
No, I don’t mean all touchy feely, stupid! Go for a run, or a walk. You’ll feel sooo much better (once you’re done, that is).

6. Get physical
And yes, this time I mean hugs, cuddles, French kiss if you can… In short, the whole shebang.

7. Listen to some feel-good music
My personal favourite is a French song called ‘on va s’aimer’ of French singer Gilbert Montagne. It does the trick every time. I just love it, it’s therapeutic.

8. Burn your M&S nighties
Seriously, this is one of my pet peeves. Do you still have them? No wonder you are depressed. You are instantly looking 15 years older with such nighties. And for the gentlemen out there: get rid of the longjohns. It is time to realise that this is the 21st century and buy some real lingerie. And yes, by real I mean sexy. Or go crazy and sleep naked.

9. Read a good book
When I am feeling down,I read the Count Of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. The poor guy was completely destroyed and managed to bounce back. He eventually finds love again, despite his bitterness and desire of revenge.This book, to me, is about happiness and forgiveness. It speaks to me. Nobody can be more crushed than Edmond Dantes.And if he can do it, so can we.

10. Be yourself
No words needed…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

Today we are all French. The turnout of the rally in Paris was huge, with almost two millions participants there.This is simply amazing, and it shows that the attacks were perpetuated by a minuscule minority, and that we can still win the war against extremism. That’s good news. That’s actually reassuring.

Can I just say that I was worried about the possibility of another attack during the march? The brutality of the recent events in France made me wonder whether my home country was under siege, and whether such atrocities were going to become more and more common. The fact that all went well today proves that we will not be defeated by a bunch of scattered terrorists. This is a fight we can win. This is a fight we have to win.

Now is time to regroup and fight for our values. It is time to stick together, respect each other while at the same time being able to make fun at each other.
And maybe, just maybe, it is time to appreciate the freedom we have a bit more. 

On this note, I urge you to get in touch with your French side and repeat after me #JeSuisCharlie
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

I was about to tell you how the filming of my commercial went, and how happy I was with the whole experience, but because of the recent events in my home country, all of this seemed a bit futile. I am in shock. All of France is in shock. The only think that I would like to post today is something that I wrote a long time ago, about the 2005 bombings. Here it is:

As you know, despite my British passport I will never be truly British. My manners are terrible, and I care about substance rather than style. I often forget to send Thank You cards and when I am bored I can’t stop yawning. The only way I get around this is by doing my pelvic floor exercises (25 reps) sitting at the host table or on a chair, and also by sucking my tummy in and then gently releasing it (25 reps). I once was so bored at a Christmas party that I managed to do 5 series of each. My husband credits this technique for my reasonably flat tummy.  On top of the physical benefits, it prevents me from yawning.

But I am a Londoner. Oh yes. How do I know it? Well, in July 2005, I was back to work after a 6-month maternity leave. On 7th of July 2005, I dropped my elder daughter to school at approximately 8.40 am and took the Victoria Line to go to Euston station. As usual, I was rushing –life as a Mum is about having to hurry up all the time-. I had a main line train to catch from Euston station at 9.25 am, to visit yet another factory.
London was in a jolly mood. The city had just been selected for the 2012 Olympics and it was a beautiful day. Then, on the Tube, something happened. My train started to go very slowly from Warren Street Tube station on and, when we finally reached Euston, all tube services had stopped. We were all evacuated at the same time, which seemed to take forever as the tube station was packed. The messages were mentioning a power surge over and over again. I didn’t realise that a bombing had happened. All I could think about was that I was going to miss my train. I was next to two gorgeous women who seemed to come from Eastern Europe. They were talking about catching a bus. I don’t know what happened to them, and I found out that a bus departing from Euston station was bombed half an hour later. All the passengers seemed relaxed –incidents on the Tube happen all too frequently-. Unbeknownst to us, four terrorists had detonated four bombs, three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a bus. Fifty-two people, were killed in the attacks (excluding the bombers), and about 700 more were injured.
I managed to catch my train. Only later in the day did I find out about what had happen and the full scale of the horror didn’t dawned on me until a few weeks later. The rest of the day passed fast. I couldn’t call anyone as all the networks had all been shut down but I managed to reassure my family by text messages –go figure!!!- 
Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t a victim or anything, and I got an easy escape. The whole experience has an unexpected impact on me: I am a Londoner. I belong here despite the fact that I am French. I have changed too: I used to think the terrorists were “freedom fighters”. Now I don’t think that they deserve any compassion whatsoever. They certainly didn’t show any to the commuters and tourists who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The whole episode made me more grateful about what I am, and also helped me to put things into perspective: life can change pretty quickly. And, by heart, I am a Londoner.
Well, this weekend I feel very French. I promise, I will be back soon with something more light-hearted, but right now words simply fail me. Thanks for your patience and support!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

Photo by Alejandra Moral, prep by Anastasia Parquet
France is under siege. There was another attack today in Paris and the police is closing in on the terrorists as I am writing.
What to do? Well, I think that we must keep on doing what we are doing. I certainly will, and I have enclosed a photo to prove it! Let’s not be intimidated by some extremists. That said, I can’t help being angry at French security services because apparently the two perpetuators were well-known jihadists, and they were given a free pass to carry on doing what they were doing. Seriously what were we thinking.

I hope that these atrocious attacks will bring the French back together, and that we, French or British (or whatever), will get better at preventing such terrorist acts.
Again, #jeSuisCharlie
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

Just imagine: you are starting your day at work when armed men burst into the room and start shooting everyone in sight. You are not armed, you are just doing your day job. You don’t stand a chance. You die.

This is what has happened today to ten journalists and two policemen in Paris. They were husbands, fathers, sons, brothers or uncles. The policemen were executed in cold blood with military precision, with a shot in the head, according to the latest news. They just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The attacks took place at Charlie Hebdo’s offices. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical publication. It is a small newspaper with a hugely irreverent tone. Yes, it is an offensive publication, but it is offensive to anyone in general and religions in particular.

Whether you agree or disagree with Charlie Hebdo isn’t the point. Such attacks, in my view, could happen to anyone. Because, one way or the other, we all upset someone at some point, don’t we?

France is a secular country. In France, you are not supposed to show any sign of your religion. It is all about creating a common ground, whatever your background might be. This is why you can’t wear a cross at work, or a veil. France has always prided itself to be a model of integration. Things are slightly different in the UK, where you can show your religion in a more open manner. France has always thought that it was less at risk of such terrorist attacks because of its secularism (we call it laicite), and because it didn’t go to war in Irak. Well, France needs to wake up and smell the coffee: the threat is international and nobody is immune to it. 
Let’s face it: I am worried because such attacks might become more and more common. I am worried because our President, Francois Hollande, has apparently used the secret services to follow his ex-girlfriend Valerie Treirweiler rather than tackle Islamic terrorism (because that’s what it is, right?). He needs to get his priorities right. This is not only an attack against freedom of speech. This is an attack against humanity. Of course we must stick together, but we have to fight back. I am in shock. Complacency isn’t an option. 
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Uncategorized /

Picture By Alejandra Moral, Prep by Anastasia Parquet

I need to come clean here: I am a huge fan of black dresses. I think that wearing black clothes usually makes women feel and look slimmer, sexier, and in control. Especially with heels. I swear by my Little Black Dress, and I am not adventurous enough to wear colours such as yellow or electric green. It’s just not me. Believe it or not, the wardrobe of French women is all about neutral colours, such as grey, beige or black. Sometimes we add a splash of colour (a red top for instance, or a bright scarf, or even a necklace), but that’s as far as it goes. Once again, it is all about suggesting rather than looking like a Christmas tree.

British women are more adventurous, I think. They have this amazing ability to wear all the colours of the rainbow. Sometimes with mixed results, if you ask me.  Let’s face it: some colours suit us. Others simply don’t. Whether we like it or not, that’s the ugly truth. And I will admit it: I am not a huge fan of the yellow outfits of the Queen -that’s actually a British understatement.

So here is my dilemma: do you remember that I had something to tell you? Well, here is some of it… I am shooting a major commercial this Friday and next week. I can’t tell you for whom, because I am sworn to secrecy, but suffice to say that it will be huge. 
Today, I received an email from the production company, asking me to select outfits. The message specifically said ‘don’t wear all black!’. 
Damn it. I have met them a few times, and they already know me all too well.
I don’t do bright colours. If I can’t wear all black, I will panic. Actually, I am panicking right now. I want to wear black. I always wear black when I don’t know what to wear. My LBD gives me a boost in confidence. What to do?
I am freaking out right now. I want an all back outfit. Fall back plan: I will go for grey. Any advice? Wish me luck…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

I am half-awake in Singapore airport, and waiting for our next flight to London. According to my husband, I mustn’t sleep in the lounge: I need to wait until we board the plane. Easier said than done. So here we go: I will write a post. Typos and English might be worse than usual. Apologies for this.
There is a Chinese family in the lounge, and they are making so much noise that it is impossible to sleep anyway. It is becoming really annoying: the three children are running around like mad while shouting. It is 5am. This might be one of the reasons we French are sometimes considered to be rude: we don’t like noisy people, and can be quite snotty with them. For instance, it is not polite to speak too loudly in a queue or in a restaurant. And if your children make too much noise, you are supposed to apologise and make them be quieter. That’s the way it is. I remember a group of Americans in Paris being told off by the waiter because they were laughing too loudly. What can I say: we like people who try to remain quiet. So volume down, please! Shhhh…I need some peace and quiet to write. If only!
As for being arrogant, I think that, in most cases, it is a vast misunderstanding: in France, before starting a conversation, you need to acknowledge the other person by a resounding ‘Bonjour’.
That’s why, when they enter a shop, tourists mustn’t start by asking for what they want, because the shopkeeper might be offended. They need to say a simple ‘Bonjour’ to him or her. Even better, you can say ‘Bonjour Madame’ or ‘Bonjour Monsieur’.
Then and only then can you switch to English if you don’t speak French and start saying what you want.
Again, that’s the way we are.
I strongly suspect that the noise issue and the fact that all conversations need to start with ‘Bonjour’ are responsible for most misunderstandings.
As for the rest, well, I don’t know. Maybe we are indeed rude and arrogant. Or maybe, just maybe, we have a different set of social rules? What do you think of us? Honestly ?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London