Surprise, surprise: I am not invisible this side of the channel. Let me explain: I am on the train, travelling to France and trying to catch up with my writing. Travelling on a train is always a pleasure, despite the fact that it takes a much longer time. Somehow, I like being on my own, relaxing, reading and writing.
I arrived in Paris this morning, after an uneventful journey on the Eurostar (don't get me wrong, uneventful is good). In order to reach my destination, I had to take the tube to Gare de Lyon and catch another train to reach the South of France.
The platform was pretty crowded and these two guys were standing right in the middle of it. One of them looked at me, from my head to my feet and then back up again. I spent so much time studying and working with men that the meaning of this look dawned on me immediately: he fancies me. Two seconds later, the guy tried to offer me a cup of coffee. Of course, I politely declined and went further along the platform. I couldn't believe it. I certainly wasn't the youngest one. He was in his mid/late twenties. For God's sake, I am almost 40 and a mother-of-two.
I dismissed the incident as a one-off and eventually reached Gare de Lyon. Once again, I was walking on the platform with other passengers to board my train (a new TGV -very, very nice and shiny) when I realised that the man next to me, who was in uniform, was the driver of the train. He started talking to me, wishing me a nice journey and offering me -again- a coffee on board, where he introduced me to the ticket controllers -I accepted the coffee this time. This one is a trickier one: I love trains, I am a Railway Engineer and I asked lots of questions about the new functionalities of the Rolling Stock, which is probably part of the reason why they were so friendly. But I can't help thinking that he didn't know this when he started talking to me. And I can't deny the fact that I have been offered a free coffee twice this morning. By younger men each time.
This got me thinking: maybe growing older, for a woman, is not that big a deal in France? Unlike in London, I certainly didn't feel invisible this morning. And it felt good. I was freaking out about turning 40 later this year but right now I feel great. Maybe it is something about Frenchmen? They are not afraid of, let's say, more mature women. Or maybe I just look good, no matter what my age is (If only!). The good news is that I don't seem to need Botox (just yet) and my lumps and bumps don't seem to bother anyone. Quite the opposite in fact, so why go on a diet?
As I am seeing my banker for my business this week, I might ask for a bigger loan and a lower interest rate. Let's see whether my charm does his magic on him.
What do you think? Is it a cultural thing ? Do French appreciate mature women more?