Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

In Full Bloom


It had all started so well. I was taking the bus and it was packed, as usual. Then, this young guy -I am not very good at guessing ages; I would say that he was in his twenties- gave up his seat for me.
I was stunned.
Why would he feel the need to do this?
Honestly, do I look THAT old? I started to worry. Should I dye my hair? Have some Botox injections? Do I look pregnant? My tummy seems flat enough.
Am I now entitled to a priority seat given my old age? Should I make an application to have one on all services?


I must admit that panic was creeping in. I didn’t say anything and got off shortly afterwards at my bus stop.

Talking about this to various friends, I was told that I got it completely wrong. British guys, apparently, are chivalrous. I should have felt important and respected, not old. Some even said that I should have explored what else I could get him to do. The thought didn’t cross my mind. Silly old me! 

The thing is, we French love older women. We have Catherine Deneuve and Claire Chazal, and everybody envies them. Actresses around 40 are not considered old. Quite the opposite. they are the epitome of class and glamour. Look no further than Marion Cotillard and Audrey Tautou if you don’t believe me. We French women don’t get old. We become more mature, but, just like good wine, we improve with age, right?

So what is wrong with me? Have I lived in London for too long? Did I stop being French? Am I starting to age disgracefully? I believe that it is high time to reconnect with my French side. I don’t want to become old. I want to become more mature. From now on, I will be more careful.

And next time a young guy offers me his seat, I will invite him for a coffee. Lesson learned.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Ann Mullen

    I am glad to hear that chivalry is not dead in UK. But as someone way past what AARP calls a senior (anyone 50 and over) I have decided not to worry about getting old any more. A lot of it isn’t my call anyway. You, Muriel, have the body to age much more gracefully than I have, but I ate a lot of great pizza on the way to looking like a traditional little old lady.

  • Rohit Trilokekar

    I think he just had the hots for you, Muriel. I think that perhaps he really wished you would have asked him out to that coffee, after all 🙂

  • Really?At the time, i just felt very, very old! next time, I will try to be more alert!

  • I am not getting any younger, Ann. That said, between you and me, i quite like the confidence that age gives me. The best is yet to come, right?

  • Ah, Muriel, I love your posts, when you give in to self doubt at the beginning and rise at the end to become a young Catherine Deneuve!

  • Penelope J

    Good manners, that’s all. 40 is certainly not old anymore! Just look at all the gorgeous forty year women including yourself. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for most men.

  • SarahHague

    What a nice well brought up young man. It’s good to know that there are still men with manners out there. I should think the fact that you are an attractive older woman had a lot to do with it, mind. Young men fantasise about older women… 😉

  • Carolina HeartStrings

    Perhaps chivalry is not entirely dead and he was giving it up simply because you are a lady 🙂

  • Why did you not ask him, Muriel? Perhaps, he was getting off soon and figured you could use the seat longer…Or, he was mesmerized by you…

  • Oh and Juliette Binoche – I love her 🙂

  • I will, Barbara, I will. After all, age is just a number, right?

  • I think that some men look good at all ages. Others, well, not so much. As for being 40, well, it is just a number anyway!

  • Well, Sarah, that’s not what I wanted to read but I must admit that you might be right! Anyway, I will never know!

  • Perhaps. That said, I would find it quite surprising in London. Maybe I am just cynical!

  • Maybe. Roy, I will never know. Don’t get me wrong, it felt nice. Just slightly …odd, really.

  • Me too. And she gets better with age, right?

  • Carol

    I like the coffee bit. Sounds like a good idea 🙂

  • Ha ha ha. . . I loved this post. I turned 44 this week and most days I still think I’m 24, but I do tip more if someone asks to see I.D. Aging gracefully doesn’t mean we don’t have our “old” moments, so forgive yourself and enjoy the perks!