Posted by / Category Politics /

It is all over the news in France but for some reason nobody has reported it over here. A MP has asked how much Valerie Trierweiler, the current girlfriend of French president Francois Hollande, was costing the French taxpayer. The response was very diligently published on an official website (see here) : if the figures are to be believed, Valerie Trierweiler is costing a bit less that 20 000 € per month whereas the former First Lady Carla Bruni (who for some reason is not explicitly named) was costing more than 60 000€ per month. Right. So, what do we make of this?
Well, not much really. There is a big debate in France about whether Valerie Trierweiler is really a First Lady, because she is not married to the president. They haven’t even filed a joint tax return, which, according to some, only makes her the ‘official mistress’ (‘la favorite’). Right then, maybe a mistress is cheaper than a wife. As a pragmatic friend of mine pointed out, the problem with mistresses is that you can have more than one. It reminded me of an earlier decision of Francois Hollande: he cut the ministers salaries by 30% but increased the number of ministers from 20 to 34, and I have never understood whether there was a saving for the taxpayer in the end. Figures are never to be believed because, in France, the definition of an independent audit remains unclear, and costs are presented in a misleading way (e.g.: unit cost and not total costs if we take the example of the number of ministers).


So, what can we make of the comparative costs of the First Ladies/Mistresses/girlfriends?

I am not so sure. France has a long tradition of having a king initially, then a President with a roving eye. Francois Mitterrand even had the taxpayer foot the bill of a second family on the side. There is nothing new here. I think that, if a meaningful comparison must be made, then some ground rules must be established. I have come up with an initial set. Feel free to add to the list. The costs will include:
– the wife and all actual mistresses and girlfriends, their accommodation and other advantages (bodyguards, jobs offered to them, etc…)
– the cost of getting rid of all the exes (or keeping them at arm’s length, if you want)
– the surveillance of potential new girlfriends (sometimes Presidents use their prerogatives to listen to their phone conversations and try to get to know them before making a move…)
– the costs of all the lovely meals in even lovelier restaurants to seduce new targets
– the cost of redecorating new official residences once a relationship is finished and a new conquest wants to erase all traces of the old one.
Did I forget anything?

What I am just trying to say is that we must be careful what we wish for here. Too much information might sometimes hide the real points at issue here (i.e. France is going back into recession). Don’t get me wrong, as a taxpayer, I find the cost of any First Lady/girlfriend/mistress too high. I don’t understand what we get in return and I am sure that there is more to the costs than what is shown anyway (knowing my home country, it is only the tip of the iceberg). But please, can French politicians just get back to work on the real issues ? As for wife or mistresses, well, I don’t care as long, as I don’t finance such a lifestyle. Come on guys, back to work now. Please.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category London, Politics /

Monday mornings are always that little bit more difficult… So here I am, having a lovely cappuccino in the independent coffee shop around the corner of my house.

I love this time of the day. For me, it is an opportunity to organise the week and to try not to panic about the long list of tasks ahead of me. Two guys then enter the coffee shop. They are French, reasonably good-looking and fashionably unshaven. Typical metrosexual, with Armani jeans and Hollister T-shirts. They believe that nobody can understand them. Of course they do. Typical behaviour, isn’t it? They sit down and start a passionate conversation about their respective trading positions while sipping their skinny lattes. Things are not well. The French bankers have the blues.
Taxes are too high, you see. It is not worth staying in London any more. One is considering going back to France, the other feels trapped because his children are going to British schools, but might consider a move to Singapore. And the school fees are soooo high and have even been raised. Can you believe it? His wife is having her annual health check-up, paid for by the lovely private health insurance. She then has a spa appointment and will pick up the kids later today. One of them is going to the Philippines for their holidays (where do they find the time and the money?). Life is really difficult.
The trading floor has been reorganised and half of the team has been made redundant. It seems to me that even less traders are needed given that they have been shouting behind my back for the best part of an hour, and it is mid-morning only. When do these guys work? How do they make their money? Their concerns range from the French exit tax to their latest equity investments. The problem is that their company won’t pay them their generous housing allowance after a few years and they have been asked to go local. How rude! You see, it is not worth it, and they can’t finance their lifestyle on a local salary. Maybe they would like to be expats for life.
Finally, they stood up and left. They were still complaining. I couldn’t believe it. Come on, how can you complain when you obviously have so much? This got me thinking: my target for this week is to be grateful for what I have.  Time to stop complaining! I might be French too but I will make a point of NOT complaining. 

AH7ZJG9UAPW7

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /


Let’s start with the fact that I am upset. To me, French politicians in general and the actual government in particular have lost any credibility whatsoever. The last straw was a few days ago when the Budget minister, who was in charge of tackling tax evasion, admitted to having a hidden account in Switzerland with €600 000 on it. In itself, this is not illegal. What is illegal is the fact that he didn’t declare it and repeatedly said that the allegations of tax evasion against him were false, even threatening to sue anyone who would report them. He lied to his colleagues, to the Parliament, and tried to intimidate anyone who would dare to mention the matter until, eventually, he had no choice but to admit the truth. The whole saga lasted a few months.
The French media were surprisingly polite and considerate in reporting this. You may remember that a newspaper insulted businessman Bernard Arnault (f… Off, rich c****) just for wanting to become Belgian and our Prime Minister said that the actor Gerard Depardieu  was ‘pathetic’ because he wanted to move to Russia. Well, I couldn’t find any insults in the newspapers this time around and the word ‘pathetic’ wasn’t used at all. A clear case of double standard. Journalists and politicians have always had a cosy relationship in France. Very cosy indeed.
But fear not: in order for my readers to understand what this is all about, I have decided to compile a list of the skills that you need to have if you want to make it as a politician in France. This list will be useful next time you hear another big fat lie or another lecture citing French philosophers coming from one of our beloved leaders.
1.    Being a sex pervert is seen as a quality (DSK);
2.    Having lots of affairs is a sign of good health (F. Hollande, J Chirac, F Mitterrand….the list is too long and I would need several posts to be exhaustive);
3.    You don’t need to apply the principles that you preach. Principles are completely disconnected from the reality and laws don’t apply to you anyway (see Jerome Cahuzac). Of course they don’t;
4.    It is all about scoring points and not doing things. Debating is much more important than solving problems. After all, you need to be popular, not solve issues, right?
5.    If something goes wrong, just create a new law/decree/rule (it is a shame that there is no law against hypocrisy and incompetence). See, you have done something! No wonder we end up with so many laws and rules;
6.    It helps to be married to a journalist (a lot), or to have one as a lover;
7.    It also helps to have a degree of Ecole Nationale d’Administration (for some reason, most French politicians have the same academic background. Exactly the same. And it is not about what you learn, it is about your grades. Go figure);
8.    No need to speak English or any other language. Who needs anything else when you speak French?
9.    No need to have any work experience. Having worked in the private sector is actually frowned upon;
10. You can change side. Clearly, it doesn’t matter as long as you remain in power. Francois Mitterand used to support Petain before becoming a resistant of the eleventh hour at the end of WW2. He then became a socialist.
In short, I am gutted. Is it the same everywhere? Older generations have fought hard for a democracy and this is what we get! I can’t believe it. I am so angry that I am considering getting rid of my French citizenship. I probably need to calm down. What would you do?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /


Have you heard the news? David Beckham will be playing for a football club in Paris. A British icon in France! Apparently, his family will remain in London, because he only has a contract for a few months.
I can’t wait to hear him speak French. That’s something to look forward to!
He has also decided to give all of his French salary to a charity, which I believe is great. However, he has been at the receiving end of a torrent of abuse because of his decision. French newspapers especially have had a field day: they say that he did this to pay less taxes.
I don’t get this logic. He could have kept his salary for himself. Instead he gave it to a deserving charity. What is the problem? Why are some journalists (especially French ones, actually) giving him such a hard time? Shouldn’t we all be happy that children in need will benefit from his action? Why are people trolling him?
In fact, I really wonder why we have all become so cynical. Yes, David Beckham doesn’t have any end of the month worries, but does this fact make him a bad person? Don’t you think that people are in fact, well, jealous?
Maybe it is in our genes. Maybe we like nothing more than a good old scandal. Maybe giving to a charity is a good deed that doesn’t interest the newspapers. They would have preferred him to have been unfaithful to his wife or to have done something against the law, it is probably better for their business. How pathetic.
And who would blame David Beckham because he prefers to give to a charity rather than to the taxman? Well, not me.

That said, I believe that David needs to go even further. To show his real involvement and proves that he means business, he should strip off. For a charity, of course. I promise that I will contribute if he does it. David, don’t disappoint me! I am sure that lots of women will join me. I am not talking about Armani sultry shots here. We want the full monty – all for a good cause, of course. Come on, David, it has been a difficult start of the year and I still have a stupid cold. I need some cheering up here!

On a similar note, please note that, on 4 February, ActionAid launched our Ready for Anything campaign, which will help the world’s poorest people everywhere from Afghanistan to Burma to prepare for the next big disaster, helping to save lives NOW. Throughout the campaign from 4 February to 3 May, every donation made by people in the UK will be doubled by the government, helping twice as many people. 

Finally, a big thank you for your support. Thanks to my readers, I sponsor a child in India. His name is Suresh.

Do you know what? If we all do something, maybe we will make this world a better place.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /


As you may know, DSK has settled with the maid for his, let’s say, indiscretion in a top New York hotel. Until today, the amount of the settlement was not known. Well apparently, he had to pay M$ 1.5 for her to drop the civil charges. She will have to give 30% of this sum to her lawyers. Well, it certainly makes it one of the most expensive sexual acts of this world. Apparently, DSK might still have a future in French politics, which begs the question of what you need to do to get kicked out.
Arnaud Montebourg belongs to the same party than DSK and is one of the most vocal ministers in the French government. His style is very, very different. In order to promote what he calls “economic patriotism”, he didn’t hesitate and ordered a photo shoot where he was proudly wearing a French-made naval top, and various other French products could be seen in the background. The picture is on top of this post if you don’t believe me. Am I the only one to find the whole thing ridiculous? Honestly, what would you say if Tony Blair was pictured driving a Rolls Royce to incite people to buy British? Or Barack Obama stuffing his face with Kellogs Corn Flakes? Please, give me a break.
To me –and again this is a subjective judgement, the picture reminds me of an old Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume ad. Here it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jean-Paul Gaultier’s creations. But Jean-Paul Gaultier is nothing short of fashion icon, not an Industrial Recovery Minister (Arnaud Montebourg’s official job title).

French women have found him sexy. Really? Maybe it is a good thing that I have a British husband now. Maybe I just can’t stand stripes. Can I just say that Arnaud Montebourg doesn’t do it for me on this picture? Don’t you rather think that he is completely out of his depth and look a bit too, well, feminine? Honestly, what’s next? A photo shoot in his boxers to show us the French savoir faire in lace underwears? I hope that he will work out because I can see the start of a bulging tummy down there. How can he expect to be taken seriously during negotiations? If I had to talk to him, my opening question would be: why didn’t you wear your naval top today? How disappointing!
I know that I sound like an old bore but seriously, couldn’t French politicians just behave a bit better? How about hard work and more humility?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

It looks like things are going pear-shaped in France. It started a few weeks ago when Gerard Depardieu decided to move to Belgium, just on the other side of the border. Everybody assumed, rightly or wrongly, that he had made such a move to avoid the new punitive French taxes. Gerard Depardieu’s ‘exile’ was ‘pathetic’ according to France’s current prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault. The actor, understandably hurt, wrote an open letter in a national newspaper explaining that he had had enough of a country that didn’t recognise hard work and success, was coming from an humble background, and didn’t deserve to be branded ‘pathetic’ (you can read the full version – In French, here). Everyone, from politician to celebrity, had an opinion on the matter and voiced it. It is fair to say that it has kept the media busy for at least a couple of weeks -all thanks to Gerard Depardieu. What was, essentially, a private decision, became an overnight political debate. I wouldn’t want to be in Gerard Depardieu’s shoes -after all, whatever his reasons, he is free to go wherever he wants.
The story took an unexpected turn when Gerard Depardieu managed to get a Russian passport in a few days. He received it and showed it off in a Russian outfit. He was also offered a property in Mordovia, as well as a possible job as a culture minister.
My question is therefore: is Russia the way to go? I like it very much in London. Why does everybody want to leave France? Did I miss anything? What exactly is going on in my home country?
Come to think of it, it is a crazy world, isn’t it? In London, we don’t have a lot of sun, but certainly do have loads of fun. We take things a bit less seriously over here, which is nice. France loves to stigmatise successful people. I didn’t see it when I was living there. Maybe, sometimes, you have to leave your home country to have a more open mind and become less judgemental. That’s certainly what has happened to me.
And once you have your eyes more open, I am not sure that you can go back. I am not a tax exile (I wish I were, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case.), I am a fun exile. I laugh more over here.You can’t put a price on being less judged and having more fun, can you?
So what do you think? Will he go back to France after this media storm? I don’t think so.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /


It is all over the news. Audrey Pulvar, a well-known French journalist and her minister boyfriend -Arnaud Montebourg, have broken-up. You could argue that this is hardly a news as couples break up every day. But in this instance, Audrey Pulvar told the news to the French press by text message.

Female French journalists who are covering politics tend to end up in a relationship with politicians. We have plenty of examples. Some couples seem to last, even when they are not in the spotlight any more, which has to happen eventually… Others, such as DSK & Anne Sinclair, have known a different fate. Is this proximity between politicians & journalists unhealthy? I used to think so. Now I believe that we mustn’t read too much into it. And it is not really a French specificity, is it? Just look ad General Petraeus’ latest squeeze. They work together, they spend a lot of time together. Well, things happen. I suppose it is just human nature. Not always in a very dignified way, but human nature.
But when did it become acceptable to announce a break-up by text message? I still remember a Sex & The City episode where Carrie gets dumped by Post-It. At the time, I thought that it was pure fiction. Apparently not. Some break up by changing their Facebook status. Some tweet about it. Some email it around. How times have changed…how did we manage before social media ?
Unless I have missed something, you can not sustain a relationship using social media only. A kiss by tweet is not the same than the real thing. So why would you end a relationship that happened in the real world using the cyberspace? Is it easier to get read of someone in 140 letters than to face him or her? When did we pour our heart and soul on social networks?

Just imagine if we were using Twitter to stop our energy contract @supplierX had enough of your crappy customer service. Going to sign up with @supplierY. My followers would then ReTweet it and the whole world would know, except the energy company because their Twitter account hasn’t been updated since the latest ice age anyway.

So is the virtual break-up a French thing? I don’t think so. Again, I think that it is just human nature. It is easier to avoid a confrontation. But it is not human nature at its very best!
NB: How do you like my new design? It is not completely finished yet, so bear with me. I need to update the links, etc…And don’t forget to review my blog here! A big thank you for all your patience and support. Virtual xx

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

I am not drowning! Promise! Copyright by Muriel Jacques

Some things cross borders. They simply never change. Denial falls into such a category. It transcends nationalities, genders and social positions. Come on, let’s admit it: we are all in denial in some form or shape. Right now, the French government is in complete denial when they say that there is no such thing as a tax exile issue in my home country. They should have a look at the Eurostar arrival terminal to understand what is going on. All French who qualify for a British passport are actually getting it.
So, tell me, why is it so easy to see what is wrong with someone else and not what is wrong with yourself? I don’t get it. I remember the mum of an anorexic daughter. She hadn’t realised that the girl was throwing up on purpose at every possible opportunity and kept saying that her daughter had a sensitive stomach. When some clinically depressed members of my family tell me that I look burnt-out, I feel like yelling at them that they should sort out their own issues before taking care of mine. But I don’t.  What is the point of getting angry anyway? If they don’t want to face their own demons, why should I spend some time and energy trying to enlighten them when, clearly, they don’t want to know. It would be cruel, wouldn’t it? And they wouldn’t listen -I have tried to have a chat with the mum in question and she brushed off my concerns, so there you go.
That said, if there were such a thing as a denial’s barometer, I believe that France would top up the charts. Being patronised by my French friends remains quite an experience. I keep being asked when I am coming back. Because clearly, according to them, life outside of France can not be bearable. My roots are French, are they not? Someone will also have to explain to me why people have this obsession of roots and origins. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to know where you are coming from, but I live in the present. Onwards and upwards, as they say. I had a stark reminder of this the other day when I bumped, on the street, into the guy who was sitting next to me at my Engineering university. We chatted a bit and he explained that he was only in London for a year. It is some sort of rite of passage in the French establishment, in order to be able to say that you have worked abroad. He looked horrified when I told him that I was living here for good. I have given him my business card but he won’t call back, I am sure. How can I leave France for good! Maybe he thought I was hitting on him (NOT the case).
Anyway, don’t you think that we just need denial to make our life easier? Right now, I am having a sizeable piece of brownie. I deserve it, I went to bikram. Am I in denial too?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /


Every week, in London, there is a press article about French politicians. Unfortunately, it is not about politics or economics. And no, it is not about elections either! It is all about the politicians’ tangled love life. What vaudeville! The latest articles were about Rachida Dati, a former Justice Minister. She decided to sue a well-known French businessman to establish the paternity of her baby daughter. The said businessman implied that the lady had numerous lovers at the time. The saga continues. This new episode left me wondering when French politicians actually work. Don’t get me wrong: what happens between two consenting adults is their own business. But come on, surely the French politicians have too much time on their hands. Maybe it is a side effect of the 35 hours per week. It must be.
Francois Hollande had various partners, mistresses and an actual girlfriend. Apparently he has a love child too. It must be some sort of compulsory routine when you want to be a French president. Love child: check…Giscard d’Estaing had an accident with the milkman when he came back from a night with one of his mistresses. I don’t get it. Where do they find the time to do some actual work? Correction: do they actually work?
I am starting to wonder whether it might actually be me. My life seems, in comparison, incredibly boring. I wouldn’t be able to do a tenth of what they do. Not that I would want to. Is there something wrong with me? No wonder that the French social security deficit is so abysmal when what is expected from some is so, let’s say, incredibly demanding. What is going on in my home country?
Where in America we would have tears and confessions and promises that it will never happen again (remember John Edwards? Mark Sanford?), everything is kept under wraps in France (literally and, well, figuratively) and, even when the rumours are founded, French politicians will sue the newspapers for ‘invasion of privacy’. And most of the time, they will win, although the fines are ridiculously low.
So there is another French paradox: in France you are protected, and sometimes even rewarded for a tangled love life. Especially if you are a man, that is. I am not sure that Rachida Dati will have such an easy escape: apparently she could be jailed if she was to travel to Morocco, her country of origin, because of its strict morality laws. In the meantime, all the male French politicians can travel as much as they want with all the honours. Some things never change.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Politics /

I have found the perfect bracelet for the ceremony

Tomorrow is the end of a journey for me. I have my citizenship ceremony at 9.30 am. Then, I will be a British citizen. I thought that it was going to be a formality but I can already feel butterflies in my tummy. I also have a vague feeling of betrayal, probably because my education instilled in me a sense that nothing could top up France. Everybody keeps asking me why I want to become British, which doesn’t help. After all, with a French passport, surely I don’t need to become British. Well, my daughters are answering back to me in English now and, the more I look at what is happening in France, the more I am convinced that I am making the right choice. I will have dual citizenship anyway.

 
What really tipped the scales in favour of British citizenship was what happened a little over a month ago. National French newspaper “Liberation”’ main headline was as follows:
Liberation

This is a picture of Bernard Arnault, one of the wealthiest French businessmen, with a luggage. The headline translates “P**s off, rich c**t !” – without the stars, obviously. The rude headline was published because Bernard Arnault has applied for Belgium citizenship. He denies that his application is for tax reasons and will keep his dual nationality, but because of it he had to face a torrent of abuse.

 I am stunned. The violence of this headline gets me. This is pure incitation to hate, don’t you think? Is it ever acceptable to insult somebody in such a public way? Whatever your political opinion might be, I don’t think that the use of such an invective is ever justified. I hope that Bernard Arnault will win his case against them. Castigating the rich and the entrepreneurs might not help the ailing French economy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Let’s face it: I don’t understand my home country any more.

To make matters even worse, this headline also implies that applying for another nationality makes you a bad person. There are all sorts of reasons why people want to apply for another citizenship. As for me, I just moved to London to keep my family together. Should have I stayed in France out of patriotism? Please, give me a break.

The good news is that I seriously doubt that my application will make any headline. Phew! Just don’t tell the French!

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London