Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

I grew up with petanque. Where I am from, every family had its own set of boules. Mine was no exception. So what is petanque? Petanque is a form of boules game where the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet, while standing inside a circle with both feet on the ground. The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel. It usually takes place in the village’s market place after a day of work.
Petanque originated from Provence, where I am from.
It all sounds nice and simple, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are many strategies to score as many points as you can. You can, for instance, decide to point or to shoot. The best throw of all is called a carreau (Ah, un carreau!). It is a a shot that knocks away the opponent’s boule, leaving the thrown boule exactly in its place, as if by magic. How many times have I heard it? I wonder. A carreau is always a cause for celebration. Bring on the pastis please!
What the official federations don’t tell you is that, if you lose the game, there is a little humiliating ritual that we call ‘Embrasser Fanny’. Fanny is a common first name in France. When we say, ’embrasser Fanny’, it means that the losing team must kiss Fanny’s buttocks. In front of the whole village. Here is a little picture of the lovely Fanny.
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And yes, if you lose, you must kiss the picture in front of everybody. That’s right, everybody. Well, what can I say? You just have to win.
Little did I know that Petanque is hugely popular this side of the Channel too (but somehow they forgot the little ritual for the losing team at the end!). But this weekend, there is a Petanque festival in London. yep, you read that right. Here is all the info…

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

It all started with a Twitter conversation on how my diet had changed since crossing the Channel. I started scratching my head, and realised that yes, some of my eating habits have changed. Not all of them of course, but enough to make me wonder whether I am still French at heart. I will let you be the judge of that…Here we go:

1. Where do I start? For breakfast, I used to have toasts or croissants, and wash it down with a huge glass of orange juice. I also used to have black coffee, and I was drinking it straight from my bowl (It’s a French thing). Well, not any more. Because I use a mug nowadays, and I can’t start my day without a cappuccino, a couple of eggs with some salad and maybe half an avocado. And I don’t feel hungry any more at about 11 in the morning. I just love it!

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2. It is no secret that British cuisine is frowned upon in my home country. That said, I must admit that I have grown quite fond of some British specialties, such as fish and chips, fishcakes and Yorkshire pudding, bangers and mash… And the Sunday roast…Nothing tops up a good Sunday roast, right?

3. I have cheese before dessert. Always have. Always will. And no, I can’t do it the other way around. Just imagine the taste of a cup of coffee after cheese (yuck!). That said, if you must know, I tend not to have cheese and dessert. Because it’s all a bit too much, if you ask me. What can I say? A French women can’t indulge to often. That’s just who we are.

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Posted by / Category London /

I am thrilled to report that my second column is now available…Enjoy without moderation!

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As I am French, my friends keep coming to me for advice on their relationships. I will never understand why. That’s just the way it is, I suppose, and I had to learn to accept it. Today was no exception. A friend asked me what the best food for a date was. Me being me, I blurted out that for a date all I would care about would be the after-dessert course. What can I say? I am incorrigible. And French. As I think I shocked him, I decided to give the matter some more thoughts, and eventually came up with a more detailed answer. So here it is: this is what I should have told him.

Read the rest here

Posted by / Category London, Looking Good /

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In London, things can easily get too intense. We just never stop. I am sometimes so busy that I forget to have lunch. Believe me, this would never happen in France (As a matter of fact, it has never happened to me in France). I wonder where this social pressure is coming from. I suppose it what makes London, well, what it is. That said, I must admit that I needed a break. It must have been karma, because shortly afterwards I received an invitation to try out Spa London‘s Signature treatment: Cleopatra Milk & Honey Ritual. I had to accept. You see, it was research. It was work. At least that was my excuse.

I love going to spas, but somehow I never find the time. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried many, many times. But, you see, I am a simple girl. I hate places that are too clinical, where they talk slowly, and take themselves far too seriously. I also hate products that smell like artificial sweets, and have complicated names. I once laughed at the face of the therapist who wanted to put a stinking cream with some caviar in it on my face (please!). The thought of having fish eggs on my face was just too much.

As a result, I usually go the the cheapest option around, and only for the most basic treatments (waxing anyone?). This means that I often end up in the basement of a hairdresser or a nail salon for a few minutes of torture (yes, even threading bloody hurts).

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

As some of you have told me that they couldn’t find my new column on Match.com to read my new column, I had to help. Here it is. And once again, don’t be scared: no need to register to be able to read it. I promise.

Just enjoy without moderation…because that’s what life is about, right? Here we go!

 

Whether you like it or not, looking and feeling French is the latest craze. If you look French, men will hold the restaurant doors for you, be charming and generally behave in a much more civilised way. I never really quite understood why, and come to think of it, it is totally unfair and completely unjustified, but that’s simply the way it is. No later than this morning, I woke up in my London hotel room, and went downstairs to have some breakfast. The thing is, I am not a morning person, and I was still half asleep. As a result, I missed a step. I didn’t fall or anything. I just missed a step. Within two seconds, I had no less than three guys around me, acting really concerned:

“Are you alright, mademoiselle?” 

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Read the rest here
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Posted by / Category London, Travel /

If you follow me on Twitter you probably already know that I went to Birmingham last Friday. I had a lovely time with food critic legend Paul Fulford and hugely talented journalist Sanjeeta Bains. But here is the whole story…

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Life can be such a tease. The last time I went to Birmingham was over 10 years ago, and I must admit that I was really pleased not to have to go back. The truth was that I had had a bit of a tough time there. For instance, I will always remember the day I arrived at Birmingham. I used to work for a French company called Alstom as a Transport executive, and was assigned to help on the Pendolino project. I took a cab from the airport, where I had landed from Paris. We went straight to Washwood Heath, where the factory was. There was some sort of car boot sale going on, and sofas were lying on the street, together with old TVs, tables and chairs. The cab driver had to slalom in and out of the furniture to eventually reach our destination. What a journey, I thought to myself. Little did I know that it was only the start.

I paid the cab driver, and went to the security booth. The guard was clearly in the middle of his cup of tea, and sighed deeply when I started talking to him. He eventually called my contact in the factory:

“I have a lady from an exotic country for you at the entrance.”

Right, I thought, this will not be easy.

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Posted by / Category London /

In case you have been hibernating, let me share the big news with you: Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, had a baby daughter yesterday. Both mother and baby are doing well, and, unlike the rest of us mums who looked dishevelled after giving birth, Kate looked immaculate, and waved at the crowd with not only perfect hair, but also a relaxed smile.

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Me after giving birth. Much more realistic, right?

I might be French, but it took me a tad longer to look back to my former self. Lesson learned. If there is a next time for me (which is highly unlikely), I will have my make-up artist and my hairdresser at the ready. Oh, and a maternity nurse of curse, to avoid those dark circles that never go. I wish…

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

As you know, I am committed to improving your French vocabulary. Today, I am going to tell you all about a French expression ‘Poser un lapin’ (Literally: to put -down?- a rabbit). But first of all, you need to have a little bit of background.

Here it is: I caught up with a French friend of mine today, and she was in a terrible mood. You see, she was stood up by a guy on (what was supposed to be) their first date. Boy, she was angry. She hated men in general, and this one in particular. Between two sobs, it is fair to say that she hated the whole world.

‘ Il m’a pose un lapin!’ she said.

Sob, sob, sob.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Things were incredibly busy, and you may remember that I was close to a full-blown burnout last week (read here if you don’t believe me). Well, I am pleased to say that things have improved. As in, they have improved a lot.

Right, where do I start?

Well, I am proud to announce that I am the latest columnist of Match.com, and you can read my first post here: My Top 10 Tips To Look & Feel French. What do you think? I have been jumping up and down all day, because it looks great, and the response so far has been nothing short of amazing. I have been telling the whole world (and his sister) about it. However, the reaction of some of my French friends was a bit disappointing. One of the comments I got was:

” Well, not bad!”

What? Not bad? I have been singing “Diamonds” of Rihanna in the shower since yesterday ! Then I remembered. We French don’t say ‘great!’ or ‘well done!’. No, instead, we say ‘not too bad’ or ‘not shabby at all’. Damn it. I have become British. Lesson learned.

So, if you want to sound French, next time somebody does something great, just tell him or her ‘Not bad’. And wait for the slap.

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Posted by / Category London /

My French friends keep asking me how I can cope with the bad weather in London. Because, according to them, everything is so grey, right? Well, they say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And grey doesn’t have to be boring, right?

In fact, look at this picture, and tell me what is boring about it…

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