Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Today, I had another reminder of how different the Brits can be. I was nicely queuing at my local coffee shop when the lady right before me made a big fuss about her croissant being too brown and, according to her, over baked. The placid and polite shop assistant swapped it for a white, flat croissant that, for some unknown reason, she was a lot happier with.  There and then it dawned on me: she didn’t know what a good croissant was. I should have tried to educate her but, frankly, I didn’t really feel up for it, especially before my morning’s coffee.
Me being me, I ended up talking to the baker, who explained to me that most British people like their bread or their croissant whitish, flat, and under cooked. You see, he explained, they are so used to the soft, white industrial bread that they can’t cope with the crusty French bread.
This can’t be right! Real bread must be dark gold, with a hard crust that makes a lovely, squishy sound when you press it (needless to say, such a sound is music to my ears). As for the inside, it must be light and melt in the mouth. Nothing to do with the taste of plaster and plastic that you get with the carefully wrapped industrial bread. It is a completely different feeling.
Croissants are the same. They mustn’t be white and flat. The crust needs to be, well, crusty and round. As for the inside you must have thin layers of buttery pate feuilletee, with a lot of air between then. Simply delicious.
Isn’t it sad that, because most British people don’t know good bread, they simply don’t recognise it? They even WANT bad bread instead of the real thing. I hadn’t realised that being French came with such a knowledge of good bread. It is probably part of the silent education there. I do realise that, in the grand scheme of things, this is probably a minor issue. But, you see, I am a great believer of quality as opposed to quantity. Having said that, good bread is easy to find in France. No need to be rich, you can find it at every local boulangerie. As for the woman this morning, well, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. What a shame!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

View From the Highline, Meat Packing District


Before starting, I have to tell you that travel is in my blood. I don’t know why, but I am never happier than with a suitcase and a plane ticket.
I happen to be French. My birth country is therefore France. I live in London and the UK is becoming my adoptive country.
That said, right now I am enjoying New York and, despite the jet lag it feels really good.


I am watching my adoptive country doing well in the Olympics. But it doesn’t seem to go down very well with my birth country. They believe that the British have bent the rules and even used ‘magic wheels’ for some cycling competitions -the magic wheels in question are, ironically, manufactured in France.
As a results, the anti-Olympic mentality is quickly gaining momentum in France, which is a shame.

I will say it out loud: what is wrong with the French? They seem to forget that, when the rules play in their favour, they don’t say anything ( do you remember Thierry Henry’s hand during the France/Ireland match?). And when the French swimmers kept winning medals they didn’t seem to have any afterthoughts! Our newly elected president even joked that the British had paved the way for the French to win medals. What a difference a week makes!

They simply can’t accept that they lost. It is probably because they believe that they are the best. How can you progress if you don’t accept that there is room for improvement?

I hope that, in time, they will learn their lessons and thrive to become the best. You see, I have a bit of a loyalty issue here: I have therefore decided to support whoever wins, French or English.

Somehow travelling has made me become more open-minded. I know that we are all humans and there is nothing like a healthy competition to push us a bit!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

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 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