Monday, 29 September 2014

Do French Women Just Accept That Their Husbands Will Have Mistresses?

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Picasso

I have heard this one so many times over the last ten years that it is starting to wear me off. After so long, I thought that people would actually start to get to know me, and also to understand my values. But nope, it hasn't happened just yet, and it probably never will because of all the cliches on the French this side of the Channel. So let me make it crystal-clear for you: I don't know a single French woman who would accept that her husband has a mistress without being upset. None. Yep, you read that well.

If you don't believe me, just have a look at what Valerie Trierweiler, the ex-French First Lady, has written about how being cheated on made her feel. Suffice to say, she didn't enjoy it. Quite the opposite, in fact. She wanted to end it all. What happened to the so-called 'Gallic shrug' in case of an infidelity? Well, it didn't exist in the first place. And to make matters even more dramatic, Valerie Trierweiler took her revenge in a very public manner by writing a best seller. It clearly hurt the President, who was already very unpopular, and made her a fortune along the way. Never underestimate a scorned woman, I say.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

High Functioning Maybe, But With Serious Mental Issues

Venice: Lovely Facades, But What About Foundations?

London is the city of all superlatives. I recently read that London has overtaken London as the world’s most expensive city.

I am not surprised. That said, I think the London also holds the sad record of high functioning people with hidden mental issues. I attended a party over the weekend. I thought that it would be lovely to catch up with friends and acquaintances. The food was indeed amazing. They served, amongst other things, delicious little pizzas with mozzarella melting on top of them. Who can resist pizzas? I certainly can’t. Neither could my teenage daughter, actually.

So, us being us, we tried the mini pizzas and ended up having quite a few. They were really tasty. Then, it dawned on me that we were the only one eating them. In fact, apart from another woman who had had a couple of grilled prawns, nobody except us had touched the gorgeous food. How weird! I naively thought that pizza was the teenage food by excellence, and there were lots of teenagers. Well, I was clearly wrong. What was going on?

Monday, 22 September 2014

How To Date A French Man

Dating Isn't Aways Plain Sailing (Port Moresby)


It happened again over the weekend. I caught up with a friend of mine. She explained to me that she had just met this French guy, and that she really liked him. And then, she asked me the dreaded question:
"- So, tell me, what should I do? Do you have any advice as to how to date a Frenchman?"
I started to panic. The thing is, I have not played the dating game for a very long time. I tried to mumble something about just being yourself, but I don't think that it made the cut. In short, she left without an intelligible answer. I thought about her question for a long time, and started remembering that, because of my engineering studies and my various technical jobs, I used to be surrounded by men. More often than not, I used to be the only woman in a meeting/project/office...After all, she was probably right to ask the question, because I had to learn how to read guys. It was a survival matter, really. So here is what I should have told her. Better late than never, right? Here we go...

1. There are no rules. 
Unlike in the US, there is no specific plan as to what you need to do at the first, second or third date. You can go as fast or as slow as you want. You are in control. Obviously, he often will want to go fast, but it is up to you to slow him down, if you so wish. Now you are warned. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

My French School In London Is Oversubscribed


Over dinner, the other day, I was told that a French primary school that had opened recently in Ealing (West London) was already oversubscribed. Because apparently, all French schools are. I couldn't believe it. Obviously, because I was French (or was it because of my French accent? I will never know), my interlocutor had assumed that I was sending my children to a French school. The thing is, I was not. I was brought up in the French system, and we sent our older one to a British nursery, because the French Lycée was oversubscribed (unless you had friends in high places, that was, but we didn't. I am told that, following a certain Ofsted report, the transparency of the admission process has greatly improved). I must admit that I was extremely disappointed at first, but as she was clearly thriving, we ended up keeping her in the British system, where she so clearly belonged. We didn't hesitate for our younger daughter: she went straight to a British nursery. To us, it was all about having happier children.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Is Romance Wasted On The French?

Eugene Delacroix, La liberte guidant le peuple


From the Sunday newspapers, it certainly looks like the French don't do romance any more. They have replaced it by vaudeville. When did it all happen? How come I didn't see it coming? I don't know. Seriously, why do French politicians put their love life on display like it is some sort of show? In case you started hibernating a few of months before winter is actually supposed to start, here is a recap of last week's French affairs. Bear with me, it is quite complicated:

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Last Night The Gin Saved My Life

It wasn't all for me, I promise...

I am shattered. If it was down to me, I would go straight back on holidays right now. Today, for instance, my daughter was finishing school at 2.30 pm. How am I supposed to get anything done? I couldn't help thinking that if you arrive late for school, you might bump into those who leave early. How do women work in this country? But miracles do happen: yesterday, I was invited by the lovely Charlotte of @LDNWalks for a secret pub tour. This was exactly what I needed: I met fellow bloggers, including my old friend Flora @AccidentalLDNr (old because we have known each other for more than two years, which is a long time in the blogging world. She is obviously very young and also very bright). I met other talented bloggers (and they were so young. Sigh), namely: @SquibbVicious @MissKatyEnglish  @whoismilly  and found an unexpected ally in gin. Who would have thought? After all, it is only berries, right? And as I am not a huge fan of beer, the girls made me discover gin. What a fantastic medicine ! And boy I loved it so much that I couldn't be stopped...My head hurts today. 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Quid Pro Quo


I used to love quid pro quos. When reading a Moliere's comedy, I always found quid pro quos hilarious. That said, are quid pro quos that funny when they happen to you? Well, I am not so sure.  Let me explain: a few days ago, I went to this party to catch up with friends and ex-colleagues. I went on my own because my husband was travelling for his job, and I suspect that some of my acquaintances believe that he is a product of my imagination. To be fair, my shyness probably compounds this perception: believe it or not, I happen to be quite reserved. Anyway, here I was, trying as best as I could to mingle, and also trying to get to know some new faces.
I ended up next to this guy, who was quite tall, with pale skin and freckles. In short, as much as I dislike cliches, I have to say that he looked very British. I introduced myself "Hi, I'm Muriel." , and initiated some small talks about the usual topics: the weather, the end of the summer hols...
After a couple of minutes I must admit that I was expecting him to answer back with more that one word and maybe, just maybe, find some other topics of conversations. Well, he did, but, it wasn't what I expected at all.
"You know," he said, looking dead serious "I am married"

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

There Are Decent French Men, I Promise, I Have Met Some

Francois Hollande, French president


This book written by Valerie Trierweiler about her 18-month affair with French president Hollande isn't making my life any easier. No later than this afternoon, another mum asked me at the school gate why French men were such players. A heated conversation with fellow mums quickly ensued, and everybody agreed that he had treated his then-girlfriend in an appalling manner. I had to take a stand, and fast. Come on, all French men are not like president Hollande, it is only a stereotype. I  explained that I had been living with the same French man for more than 18 years.
'See, I said, there are decent French men.'

Saturday, 30 August 2014

My Idyllic French Holidays



There is no WiFi here, except for one of the corners of the hotel's swimming pool. If I stand close enough to the street, I can connect onto the neighbour's network and catch up on my emails. I try to do it once a day, and initially I was freaking out, because in London I am always online. What is going to happen without Internet? Well, it has been a few days, and now I kind of like my digital detox. I actually have to talk to my daughters, and they have to talk to me, which feels nice- and a bit unusual, I have to admit. We saw some friends and family, and had some good old-fashioned catch-ups. We swam, we hiked, we laughed. I was shaken by the intensity of the blue of the Mediterranean. I took it for granted for so long! The small village we are staying in is indeed very close to my idea of heaven: picturesque, next to the beach, close to a little-known harbour. There are a few restaurants to choose from, and the pace is very relaxing. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

How I Became A French Babe


When things start to get at you, it is time to take action. So I took action. Of course I did. Here it is: I got tired of being asked whether I was French. Because, apparently, I look French. I have never really understood what it means, despite seeking clarification several times. But this much I know: having a British passport doesn't change a thing. I still look French. I have therefore decided to make it easier for everybody: I designed an orange T-shirt that says 'French Babe'. In fact, when I say orange, I mean bright orange. Here it is. How do you like it?

What I wanted was for the T-shirt to shout out that I was French. No need to ask any questions. It had to be out there. So I went out with my newly designed T-shirt. I wanted to see how people would react to it. Well, for starters, lots of guys were talking to me on the street. Yep, you read that right: even the British ones. Of all ages and backgrounds, really: from the coffee guy to the banker in the City. Who would have thought? Some were telling me that it was a nice T-shirt. All were smiling, and a few even started some small talk. The thing is, I love to make people smile. Somehow, my T-shirt was funny. Maybe being French in London is funny. I wonder. I am afraid I still don't get it.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Suck Your Tummy In, Francois!

Is She Sucking Her Tummy In?

It is all over the news: the French President, Francois Hollande, was photographed during his holidays (you can see him here, and there is an even worse photo here). Let's just say that the pictures are not very flattering, and that the whole thing created a huge controversy in my home country. Lots of fellow French citizen said that such photos were downright disrespectful, and that journalists shouldn't indulge in such silly practices. They added that no other French president had been treated this badly before.

I beg to disagree. I don't think it is the journalists' fault. They simply took photos from the street! Come on, it is far too easy to blame them, and surely a little bit of common sense would have prevented such photos from existing at all. And if they think that the French President was badly treated because of such pictures, they should have a look at what is happening (gasp!) outside of France (yes, there is a world out there!). If you don't believe me, have a look here, and ignore the first picture (It's Francois Hollande again. I know. No comments).

Monday, 18 August 2014

Getting Ready: Why It Takes So Long For Us Women...


Do I Look OK?


Maybe I haven't changed, even after all these years. What am I talking about? Let's come clean here: I still care about the way I look. Today is no exception: I have a formal dinner tonight, and I have prepared everything with military precision. Because I want to make a good impression. Because somehow I feel that not trying my best would be letting people down. Because that's what I do. Because that's what all women do, right? So here is the check list of the day:
Manicure: check (thanks to my lovely daughter- try putting nail polish on your right hand by yourself if you are right-handed)
Clutch bag: check
Shoes: check (boy do they look good!)
Blow-dry: check (homemade I am afraid)
Make-up: check (still homemade)
Dress: check (From Bali. An oldie but goodie. I just love it. It was love at first sight, I assure you).