Posted by / Category Politics /

It was mentioned in passing by some newspapers, but for some reasons it didn’t make the headlines. So here it is: you may remember that, in 2012, France decided that even non-residents who were renting out their flat or holiday house in France had to pay French social contributions on their rental revenues (we call it CSG/CRDS). This added 15,5% of taxes for hundreds of thousands of owners who happened not to live in France (and believe me, this can happen to the best of us!). Just like that. And as it was decided end of 2012, of course it was applied retroactively to all rental revenues in 2012. Of course it was.

We happen to own a studio flat in Paris. We decided to rent it out when we moved to London, and as a result, in 2012, our French tax liability almost doubled overnight (from 20% to 35.5%). Obviously I think that it is unfair to levy such a tax because, as a non-resident, I am already paying for National Insurance, Pension and the rest of it in the UK. Not to mention that, in France, we are paying for all the infrastructure through the local taxes. The new tax came on top of everything else. This is, to me, the perfect example of what a populist decision is: as most owners don’t vote in France, they are an easy target. Let’s make them pay more, nobody will complain! Populism at its best. Utterly disgusting.

Continue Reading

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London, Politics /

It is this time of the year, I suppose: I am starting my spring cleaning. It feels nice to have a spotless house, and it has the added benefit of clearing my mind. I was tidying up when I found them. They were covered in dust and lying in a corner of the attic, as if they had fallen off an old pile. How long had  they been here? I had no idea. Everybody had probably forgotten about them -the previous tenants certainly didn’t mention anything. What am I talking about? Old newspapers. Five of them. I kid you not. The oldest was a London News Illustrated dated Saturday, October 9, 1869, and the most recent was dated Saturday, March 19, 1898. Right in front of me, I had five snippets of a time in London I knew nothing about. It was my very own time capsule.

Continue Reading

Posted by / Category Politics /

Unknown-3Unknown-1logo_Bouygues-11

I have told you countless times that we French are different. We can do things that the rest of the world only dream of doing. In fact, we can even make people come back from the dead. For instance, yesterday, the leading news agency AFP (Agence France Presse) announced the death of French billionaire Martin Bouygues. This was big news, and the rumour spread fast on the Net -as you would expect. Martin Bouygues is one of France’s industrial leaders, and such a news would inevitably impact the French economy, the share price of his company, and so on, and so forth. In short, it was a big deal, and could have massive consequences.

Except that there was one tiny detail: Martin Bouygues was alive and well. At least that’s what he tweeted. And his company formally denied that he was dead. Apparently, the AFP got it completely wrong, and got confused because someone of the same age died in the village he was from. The AFP apologised profusely for their mistake, and promised that they would investigate what went wrong. That said, I have just had a look at Yahoo News and it still says that Martin Bouygues died on 28th of February 2015. It looks like things got out of hands. You don’t know who to believe these days, right? Is he dead, or is he alive and well? It really makes you wonder. I know that we will all die eventually, but let’s say it once and for all: this is a massive cockup.

Continue Reading

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Politics /

As you know, Netflix is releasing House Of Cards Season 3 today. I happen to be a huge fan. But I can’t watch it. I am banned from watching a single episode or reading any spoilers, because my husband is on a business trip, and I need to wait for him to start watching the series. It is hard. I don’t know if I will resist the temptation. What is it with marriage and always having to make compromises? In order to make it easier, I have decided to write the summary of what the French version would look like. Here is what I came up with. How do you like it? Should I continue? Let me know.

Disclaimer: all characters are fictional and the product of my vivid imagination.

 

PILOT

The French President, Arnaud Duchemol, is clinically depressed since his mistress, the gorgeous journalist Isabelle Demoulin has dumped him for the leader of the opposition, the charismatic (and very rich) Benoit Pouledor. This is an open secret amongst politicians and journalists, but the rest of France doesn’t know (obviously. That’s how things work in France). The president self medicates with cognac and is feeling suicidal. His Chef de Cabinet, the driven Arielle Boisneau (Chief of Staff) is running the country for him, always finding excuses when she has to lead the Conseil Des Ministres (Cabinet meeting) in his absence.

Continue Reading

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 Politics /


In French a ‘boulette’ (lit. ‘Small ball’) is a blunder


I am trying to catch up with the French news. Imagine my surprise when I read that the ‘super tax’ for the rich (75% for those earning more than €1m) will be ditched in the new year after barely two years of tumultuous existence.
Me being me, I couldn’t help thinking that this controversial tax had lasted longer than Valerie Trierweiler’s stay at the Elysee. Mind you, not by a lot.


Let’s jump to conclusions: France is the country of short love affairs and badly-designed taxes.
In both cases, we need a bit of stability. The tax has clearly damaged France’s reputation for international senior managers -they don’t want to be based there any more, and the affair has made us an international laughing stock (how can the President manage the country when he can’t manage his girlfriend, and so on, and so forth…).
I am tempted to pretend I am Swiss. Or from Quebec. Because, you see, trust is a fragile thing: when it’s gone, well, it’s gone. And I don’t trust the French government any more.
Seriously, would you trust a guy who dumps his ex so unceremoniously and changes his mind every other year? Don’t you see a pattern here?
Now, I am waiting for the book ‘Thank you for kicking us out’, by all the French entrepreneurs who moved to London. Or is it ‘Thank you for this moment’? I am getting mixed up. 
I need to stop reading the news. After all, I am on holidays, right? What would you do? Am I overreacting?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

It is all over the news and I must admit that I can’t help feeling a bit sad. Alstom, one of the biggest remaining industrial French companies, might be bought by General Electric. You could think that it is just another Corporate merger. Well, you would be wrong: we French believe that we are different, and as a result there is a last-minute twist in the plot: the French government isn’t pleased with the GE offer (I am unsure as to why, it all sounds like basic antiamericanism to me. Come on, let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?), and would like Siemens to make a counter offer, in order to create ‘a European champion’ -whatever this means-. They have even said that they would consider nationalising Alstom if need be. All of this might sound like it is happening very far from you, but, you see, as a young engineer, I used to work for Alstom. I was the project manager for the Rolling Stock of  the Line 14 in Paris (Ah, memories!). In French, I would say that I have a pinching feeling in my heart (‘un pincement au coeur’). It is the end of an era. Yes, I must admit that I still love Alstom. Alstom is a matter of national pride. That said, things got a bit rough recently. Alstom was bleeding cash. Simply put, Alstom hasn’t restructured its business as it should to stay competitive. Things  came to a head, and the only option was to find a buyer. And GE came.


I wouldn’t want to be a member of Alstom’s board right now. Basically, GE and Alstom have been talking for quite some time, and GE wants to buy the Power/Energy division of the French company. They have put a lot of cash on the table. To make matters even more complicated, one of Alstom’s main shareholders, Bouygues, badly needs to sell its participation to buy a telecommunication company. The French government disagrees with what it disingenuously calls ‘a shareholder’s approach’ -conveniently ignoring Alstom’s difficulties and massive overheads-. In theory, the government shouldn’t say anything, and shouldn’t interfere with private capital. In practice, our ministers are trying to revive a former offer from Siemens. 

The thing is, if Siemens and Alstom were to merge, in the longer run there will be massive redundancy plans because the overlaps between both companies are simply everywhere, from the operational divisions to the headquarters. Siemens is a direct competitor in most markets. To top everything up, Siemens isn’t in that great a shape either (Can two companies in a difficult position make a healthy company? I am not so sure). Oh, and I am also convinced that the European antitrust laws would never allow for this merger to happen. So why is this debate happening at all?

I am worried for Alstom’s future, and for my former colleagues. The French government might manage to stop GE from buying Alstom. But where would it leave my former employer? Would it really save it? Well, quite the opposite: nobody will want to invest in Alstom. Alstom will become moribund, and it would be another blow to the ailing French economy. Foreign investments in France will drop too. In short, even if I can only follow what is happening from London, I fear that Alstom might become the latest victim of a misjudged French interventionism. I really hope to be proven wrong…

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London