Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /



We all had, at some point, to see our GP (General Practitioner – that’s how we call our doctor over here). It is a very peculiar experience. My daughter had been suffering from a bad cough for what seemed to be a very, very long time (especially when you wake up every other hour. I had to send my other daughter to the guest room as she was in the middle of her 11+ exams so that she could sleep -more about that in a few weeks- ).


But we just talked. He didn’t examine her.  He didn’t even look at her, or take her measurements. You know: weight, height, blood pressure…he explained to me that there is a virus out here, the cough lasts 4 to 5 weeks and there is nothing to do. Tough luck, dear lady. The consultation didn’t last more than 5 minutes. I insisted that he should take a look at her, listen to her lungs, look at her throat, or simply do something but no, he didn’t do anything. He didn’t give in. He just didn’t see the point.  But he was really, really nice.  And polite too. The next thing I did was to get a prescription for antibiotics from a French friend who happened to be a doctor and I am pleased to say that the cough has gone in less than 3 days, which means that the whole household was able to get some much-needed sleep at last.

The problem is in fact a cultural one. Whereas in France we talk and then we do something, here we talk, and talk, and talk again. Then, eventually, only when absolutely necessary, something is done about the issue. Not always.  A (British) friend of mine managed to talk about how tea is made the proper way for more than 25 minutes (I timed him.). Given that it must take a couple of minutes to actually make a cup of tea, it took him twelve times longer to talk about it.  Amazing.  I just can’t imagine the time it must take to tackle a real issue over here. I think that I would have time to die of boredom 10 times before it happens. I am still unsure as to how you would solve the issue though. Maybe that ‘s the reason why we can’t get our dishwasher repaired: a week of talking would be required.

Mind you, this love of words also has its upsides.  A defining moment of my life in this country was when I had my second daughter in London. When in France I immediately got an epidural when things got rough, here I was asked to talk through my pain. I ended up doing so much more than talking: I shouted, insulted, begged and threatened (I can’t remember the exact order)…but in the end no epidural was needed. That’s what’s called efficiency!

On the bright side, I have learned to trust my instincts here. In France, people will actually do something (and sometimes they will actually do too much. I still resent the science teacher who gave me a 0% to make me understand that grades were not important). Here, finally, I don’t care any more about all the talks and unwanted advice. And we are going to change the dishwasher.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London /



It is this time of the year again: the stripes are back. Beware: they are on the tube, at work, in the street… I am not talking about the discreet little stripes on a white shirt here, but of the thick, usually purple or green ones. My favorite is when they are on a pink shirt. They usually try to cover a fat, well-fed tummy, but with limited success…



What is even better is when, together with the shirt, the trousers have stripes too-not the same ones of course. The possibilities are endless. The jacket can have stripes as well, and the tie too -usually oblique ones to be fair. Some even decide to have a tie with dots to add a little bit of variety. Lovely touch. After careful observation, I have come to the conclusion that stripes give an ego boost to the guy who wears them. The more stripes, the better, and the smarter the guy will feel. It is a sort of trampoline. The more they have, the higher their confidence jumps.

What I am still struggling to comprehend is the choice of colors that some men like to wear. I have seen a green man. The trousers, the jacket, the tie, everything -with the mandatory stripes of course. Pink and purple are also very popular. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, except when it is with some light-blue trousers. In the run-up to Christmas, I was wondering whether there was a Christmas tree competition. Now I am starting to believe that color blindness is much more widespread this side of the channel.

That said, the beauty of this country is that, even with no make-up and wearing my husband’s socks, I feel great. No one seems to care and I find it liberating.  When I was working in Paris, I once was so asleep that I put a brown tight on one leg and a black one on the other. You could barely see the difference but I was so ashamed that I rushed to the first supermarket to correct my mistake. I wouldn’t do it here. Nobody would have noticed anyway and if someone had, being French, for some funny reason, seems to mean that everything I do is stylish. I love it. I feel like I am a style icon here. Whatever I wear, I have some friends who are always telling me that I have a lot of style, even when I have my scruffy jeans on. I think that my friends are a bunch of very nice people!

As I am writing there is a group of teenage girls outside. They have mini-skirts and sleeveless jackets. Outside, in the cold, of course. Of course I could be shocked. But well, if it makes them happy, it can’t be that bad!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /




In my quest to understand what British people really think, I have a secret weapon: my 11-year old daughter.  She understands how I think and can explain to me what her friends are really saying with words that I can actually relate to. She attends a British school, which allows me to see how they are trained. It is simply fascinating. Children are taught to say things in a certain way from a very young age, and it makes it impossible for anyone who wasn’t brought up the same way to get what it is they really think.



When my daughter was seven (yes, seven), she bumped into an older girl from school. When you are in the senior school apparently you don’t have to wear a uniform, so this girl was wearing a mini-skirt with a very large red belt. Let’s just say that, if there is a fine line between originality and bad taste, this girl had clearly crossed that line, and the whole arrangement was of bad taste. In short, she looked like a pre-teen prostitute. My daughter just smiled and said “Hi! How are you? Nice belt ”. The older girl was clearly delighted and she beamed. As soon as the girl couldn’t hear us my daughter told me “ What a horrible outfit!”.  I was amazed.

From then on, I started to question everything I was told. Is this school any good? I asked one of my friends. Oh  yes, it is a good school, she said, very sporty. What she meant was that they were not very good academically.  How could I have guessed it? Another example: anyone who has been in London for a while will also know that every kid has a tutor. But it is a complete taboo. No-one says anything about it but most teachers are finding it an easy way to earn some side money while at the same time denying they are doing it.  I once asked another mum about it and she said “No, of course not, I wouldn’t take a tutor except if my daughter had specific difficulties in one subject” I later found out that the daughter in question had a tutor every day and trying to set up a play date with her is a little bit like asking for a papal audience.
In short, I am progressing but I still have a long way to go. More often than not, I still get a response that I don’t understand. I have come to the conclusion that, in some instances, maybe British people actually don’t have an opinion.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /





Before I start, I have to admit that I love London. I love it so much that I have applied for Permanent Residence and maybe one day we will have a British passport.

That said, I keep wondering what makes British people that extra bit special. After the best part of 7 years I don’t have the answer yet, but I might be getting closer as I had an epiphany the other day during the school run.



I am always in advance -big mistake- and I had managed to park my Chelsea tractor just in front of the school for once. I was pleased with myself as I hate parallel parking. We were waiting and nicely listening to the radio, and my 5-year old was probably telling me something about Tinkerbell that, I must admit shamefully, I can’t remember.
Then, this woman parked her car just in front of mine. She went out of the car. She was still waking up, she didn’t have any make-up and was wearing an ample track suit bottom with what looked like Uggs shoes. She was middle-aged, very normal and I would normally have forgotten her immediately. But she decided to open her trunk and when she did, her trousers collapsed, showing her bottom. I am talking about the whole thing here, not just the start of the bum cheeks at the end of the back. For some funny reason -and this proves that the law of gravity can be deceptive sometimes, she ended up with her track suit on her knees.

Suffice to say that if it had been me, I would have been mortified. Not that her bottom was an awful one -it was average – not a star’s bottom, but just the normal, average wobbly thing…but, being French, I would have been so ashamed and embarrassed that I would have dyed my hair blonde, change car and basically entered the local equivalent of the Witness Protection Programme.

She did none of this. She didn’t even look around to check that anyone had seen her. She just pulled up her pants, closed the trunk, got her kid and brought him to school.
I was amazed. That is the essence of Britishness. Never complain, Never explain, Get on with your life whatever.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London