Posted by / Category London /

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I feel old and none the wiser. I caught up with some younger friends a couple of days go and, in case you didn’t know it, there was a problem with the dating app Tinder last week. Some of them lost all their matches. Apparently it’s a big deal.

Seriously? Is this how you meet people today? You swipe right or left and, eventually, you will manage to get a booty call. Or even a real relationship. It has already happened, I am told.

A colleague of mine (of a similar age than me. OK, maybe a bit younger) explained to the group that he had met his now-wife in his local pub.

“Really?”

“Down the pub?”

My younger colleagues sounded amazed. Who knew that you could still meet people IRL (In Real Life!)? Not them, apparently. The whole concept seemed completely alien to them. It made them laugh. Down the pub? No way!

I felt like I was coming straight from prehistoric times. When did we become so afraid to, well, meet up? Have we become scared of being disappointed? Are we too shy? What is going on?

The thing is, the longer you stay in a a virtual relationship, the more you’ll build castles in Spain. Seriously, at some point you have to face the music and actually MEET UP, warts and all, right? And in my view, the sooner is probably the better.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I am coming back from a few days in France and must admit that I was surprised to see that most people there looked grumpy, despite the fantastic weather and the dirt-cheap croissants (90 cents if you must know. It’s about £1.65 in the independent coffee shop around the corner of my house in London). What about the legendary ‘joie de vivre’? Where did it go?

I have no idea. During a business meeting, I made a cardinal mistake: I smiled at a client. For the record, it was a polite smile, nothing too fancy or informal, I promised. The guy didn’t seem impressed at all:

” Why are you smiling? Did I say something funny?” he asked

” No, not at all.” I tried hard to sound stern. I am not sure I sounded very convincing but I tried, I promise.

I kid you not, I almost had to apologise for smiling. I had to put on a grumpy look, which I thought was incredibly funny, except that I couldn’t show it. What a conundrum!

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Posted by / Category London /

She caught me off guard. I vaguely knew her, and we ended up having a quick coffee together after the school run. I thought it was a nice thing to do, because we kept bumping into each other at the school gate. That’s when she told me:

” I pride myself on never having used a babysitter or a cleaner. Ever. And I have three kids”

Wow. Did I sense a judgy vibe here? Yes, probably. Hmmm…

I couldn’t believe it. You see, some things never change: whatever nationality you are, you will always be judged as a mother. It just never stops. And, frankly, it sucks.

I didn’t know what to answer. I ended up cutting the conversation short, and leaving shortly afterwards. You see, I have no time for such arguments. The thing is, I am probably one of the worst housekeepers you have ever met, and without the help of various babysitters and cleaners I would have died of exhaustion by now. Not to mention that someone has yet to explain to me how to be in two different places at the same time. Simply put, I wouldn’t have survived if I hadn’t had help, and I never get enough of it.

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Posted by / Category London, Stereotypes /

This year, for some reason, I can’t get into the mood for Valentine’s day. I have had enough of pink hearts, romantic gestures, and sweet love declarations. Can we move on please? Come to think of it, it’s all so incredibly boring once you stop being a teenager. I might be French, but maybe I have finally turned into a responsible adult after all. Miracles do happen.

Why am I becoming so cynical? Well, you can buy one red rose (just one), at my local supermarket, for £5. You can also buy lovely chocolates for a tenner. They come all wrapped up in red, which apparently double the price. In short, you can be romantic, but it will cost you. It feels a bit like a charade. Because you can’t buy love, right? So why would you? I don’t get it.

A sweet Valentine’s day doesn’t mean a lasting love story. Right now, lots of friends are divorcing, despite some of them being used to flying off first-class to Thailand just for a romantic weekend. This year, some of them are spending the day on their own, wondering how their are going to make ends meet, while their divorce lawyers are working on their financial settlement -or what will remain of it after the legal fees. And what about the single ones? The elderly? The sick ones? The depressed ones? Who will bring love to them?

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Posted by / Category London /

Life is full of challenges, right? I thought as much. Right now, I find it hard to run in the cold. You see, I don’t do cold. Maybe I am not as British as I thought.

So what is cold for me? Well, anything below 10 degrees Celsius (that’s 50 Fahrenheit, if you must now) is cold for me. What can I say? Growing up in Provence must have left some marks.

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The things is, I have some pretty important races lined up, and I totally need to train. If I could, I would move somewhere warm in a jiffy. Because right now, in London, it is really cold -as in, between 0 and 5 Celsius (and for the record that’s less than 41F). In short, it is freezing, and I can’t stand it.

I don’t think I am a wimp. Well, at least I hope I am not. But hear me out: when I go outside for a run, I literally feel my muscles tightening. Everything becomes hard, and I can’t move my legs. Warming-up takes at least 40 minutes in the bloody cold, by which time I usually give up and have a lovely cappuccino somewhere. After all, life is to be enjoyed.

So what to do?

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I can’t take it anymore. Christmas is everywhere, and for some reason, the spirit of Christmas should miraculously make everybody happy. Well, here is a newsflash for you: I have it up to here with Christmas. No spirit of Christmas for me. Why?

Well, in no particular order, I had to give countless donations (for presents, for all the fairs, for charities), endure the rehearsals of the concerts, prepare some stalls, bake some cakes, and so on, and so forth. I must admit that filling jam jars with stationery or sweets isn’t my cup of tea. That’s it: I am done. I am going on strike. I am escaping and taking the first flight I can for a much-needed business trip. Yes, now. Some of us have to work, you see. I have a life outside of the Christmas preparations. Am I allowed to say that I miss France? In my home country, schools might have a Christmas tree at this time of the year but that’s as far as it goes. Parents don’t have to do much, if anything at all.

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Christmas lights at Heathrow T5

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I didn’t sleep well. What can I say? I am stressed. Why? Because today my younger daughter had her first pre-assessment for secondary schools.

She will have to endure 4 or 5 sets of exams over the next two months, with two or three papers each time. Then, there will be the interviews. She is ten years old and a big baby, if you ask me. But that’s the way it is. We have to go with the flow. I am starting to question my choice to stay in the British system. Gone are the days when you just went to your local school, as I did in France.

I am freaking out. What if she doesn’t get into the school she wants? What if we end up with a school that is on the other side of London? And what is it with this testing frenzy?

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Posted by / Category French food, London /

There is no denying it: it’s getting colder and darker. Fair enough, we have had a bit more sunshine than usual, but do not kid yourself: it will soon be winter. That said, fear not, I have come up a few tricks to cheer yourself up. Enjoy without moderation:

  1. Bake, bake, bake. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread to feel warmer, and generally better.
  2. Go and watch Carmen at the Royal Opera House. Come on, sing along “l’amour est un oiseau rebelle…”
  3. It’s just a little Crushed: come on, have some compote. There is nothing to feel bad about, because there is no added sugar in Crushed compotes. Who said that compotes were for kids anyway? Well, not me. In short, it’s time for a Crushed. After all, it’s just a bit of fruit, right?
  4. Ditch the baggy pants. Go lingerie shopping. You will feel so much better for it. What is it with all the bright yellow green panties this side of the Channel. Nobody looks good in them! It’s time to do something about it!
  5. Mulled wine. Because you can buy the spices in Fortnum & Mason. Believe me, it will lift everybody’s spirits!
  6. Listen to this: the Summer Of Boys. It will wake you up. And it’s all about a summer romance. What’s not to like?

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Posted by / Category London /

According to a study posted on The Daily Mail, 16.8 million tourists flocked to the English capital in 2013, one million more than any other year. And it begs us to question what all the fuss is about? Why does everyone want to travel to London so badly when it rains so much throughout the year? And more specifically, why are there so many French in London?

To be honest, there are way too many reasons as to why people spend their holidays in London, yet there are still a handful of people that need convincing. On the other hand, some like it so much over here that they make London their new home (like me!). Travellers may shy away from the capital which is home to overcrowded airports like Heathrow, but London Gatwick and the other less busy hubs in and around the capital are equipped to provide you with all the services you need to soak in all the city’s offerings, including parking and transportation services. In short, don’t listen to the killjoys who tell you that the British infrastructure isn’t on par with the French one. It’s not true. Oh, and I almost forgot: we even have water and electricity. I kid you not.

Here are five reasons why you should plan your next holiday in London:

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London Skyline

 

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