Ce n’est pas Le Pont Des Arts…


This is a photo I took during my recent holiday in Gran Canaria. Engraved padlocks had been attached to this wire fence which runs along the beach side promenade. The sea was much bluer than it looks in this shot!

Seeeing the padlocks reminded me of the Pont Des Arts, in Paris which is sometimes known as the ‘Bridge of Lovers’. Have you ever been there?

There are many stunning bridges in Paris but this one had a specific romantic meaning for lots of people. Many couples would buy a padlock, engrave it with their names, the date and a short, romantic message. They would then attach it to the bridge and throw the key into the Seine. I must admit this is something I have never done but I have noticed that inscribed padlocks are now appearing all over the place.



As today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to tell you more about the Pont des Arts. This bridge connects the Louvre to the Institut de France and is pedestrianised. It’s an iron bridge that became famous for the thousands of padlocks that were attached to the structure. The first love locks started appearing in 2008 but the trend spread very quickly and by 2014 there were about 45 tonnes of padlocks weighing down the bridge. This put a massive strain on the bridge’s infrastructure and eventually one of the railings collapsed.



By this time, Parisians had fallen out of love with what was perceived by many locals as a tacky tourist attraction. The authorities were equally concerned about the safety of the bridge and on June 1st 2015 all the padlocks were removed. It has been estimated that over one million padlocks were taken away. The railings have now been replaced with glass panels.

Have you seen lovelocks either in Paris or elsewhere? Do you think they’re a romantic symbol or a bit of an eyesore? I’d love to know! Happy Valentine’s Day !

I am linking with #AllAboutFrance. Do go and have a look if you want to discover lots of interesting blog posts which all have a French theme!



Happy National Croissant Day!

I couldn’t miss the opportunity to wish you ‘Happy National Croissant Day’! January 30th is International Croissant Day. This is a new celebration for me. One which comes from the States, apparently.

Although, to be honest, I’m more than happy to celebrate croissants every day. Especially if they happen to be almond croissants!


The croissant was originally created in Austria. The shape is based on a crescent moon which features on the Turkish flag. Why? Travel back to 1683 when the Ottoman Empire laid siege to Austria. The Turks decided to tunnel beneath the city walls.The Viennese bakers who were working in the basement, heard the sound of digging and alerted the army who defeated the Turks. In celebration, they baked their bread in the shape of a crescent moon—the symbol of the Ottoman Empire – and created the Kipferl. This croissant arrived in France in 1770. Marie Antoinette, who was Austrian, was feeling homesick. The French bakers decided to make her favourite pastry which became known as the “croissant”.

Of course, it’s difficult to know exactly how much of this is fact and how much is fiction!

Are you a croissant lover? Do you have a favourite croissant? Savoury, perhaps? Or are you a purist who prefers a classic, butter croissant? Are you a dunker? I’m definitely not!


Bérets…do you?

Like them? Wear them? Associate them with The French? It was this headline that caught my eye:

‘Berets, Unapologetically French And Unapologetically Chic’ (Elle UK).

No surprises there, with the inclusion of the words French and Chic!

I’ve written before about stereotypes associated with France and the French, including wearing striped Breton tops, carrying baguettes and, of course, wearing berets. Over the years, I’ve seen very few French people wearing berets ( although I have seen plenty of striped tops and baguette carriers!!) and on those occasions I have they’ve tended to be sported by older gentlemen!

Bérets have been around  for a very long time. Depending on which source you read, the béret can be accredited to Noah or the ancient Greeks but the ‘modern’ beret is said to have originated in the Basque region.

I asked my youngest son what he associated with the word ‘béret’. He came up with worn by ‘the military and pretentious artists (!).’

He’s probably right up to a point. Picasso, Marlène Dietrich, Faye Dunaway and so many other painters, actors, singers have been pictured wearing berets. Whether this makes them pretentious, I have no idea! There are many other celebrated beret wearers.  Too many to mention in one blog post!

The beret has also been used to symbolise revolution; as worn by Che Guevara for example.

My first encounter with a béret was as part of my Brownie uniform. Haha! Luckily, I don’t have any photos of me wearing, what I considered to be the most hideous outfit. For someone with olive skin, a brown dress, accessoried with touches of yellow, did me no favours at all!


I managed to find this image on Pinterest. It is almost an exact replica of my Brownie uniform. I believe that the Brownie uniform is much more practical now.

What about bérets as a fashion item? I must have been scarred by my Brownie Uniform Beret as I have never worn one since I was eleven. Apparently bérets are back in fashion. I know for some people they have never gone away. Penny, who writes the blog:


wears a beret (and other hats!) with aplomb. Do have a look!

I’m actually thinking that I might be brave and try a beret. I’m sure I’ll be able to find one in  charity (thrift) shop. I’ve found a video that might help me with styling my béret:

Sadly, there is only one historic beret factory left in France: Laulhère. The Laulhère company has become something of a French institution… It’s the last remaining  factory producing distinct and 100% homegrown French berets, which it’s been doing for 200 years. Having survived the threat of bankruptcy, the company is now growing and its berets are even worn by princesses and movie stars.

I’m looking forward to hearing from all those beret wearers out there!


French foster cat has landed…!

I have written before of my love of dogs and about my volunteer dog walking at the Carcassonne SPA. On reflection, there are very few animals that I dislike. I have had cats in the past, although I would probably describe myself as more of a ‘doggy person’ if pushed!

Last week, there was an emergency situation, at the rescue centre, which resulted in me returning with an unexpected kitten and everything she might need: travel basket, bed, litter, litter tray, food and toys.

We have even had the honour of naming her. My husband came up with ‘Mishka’. After some research, he discovered that in Hindi this means ‘gift of love’.

She has had her first vaccination and we will be looking after her until it is time for her second one. Then, she will be ready to be adopted by her long term family.

I’d forgotten how much time can be spent stroking, cuddling, entertaining  (or as I prefer to say ‘socialising’ ) a kitten! I’m convinced that Mischka thinks she’s a dog, as she follows us around the house.

Friends and family have expressed their concern about how I will feel when it is time for her to leave. However, as I have known, from the outset, it’s a fostering situation, I’m prepared. I think…

As we are still dividing our time between the UK and France, it really is the best solution.

And I’m sure there might be more kittens, cats or even puppies, on the horizon!



Top Ten French Films..?!

I have always wanted to write a ‘Top Ten Post’…

Being a lover of French films, I thought I could easily put together a Top Ten of my favourite French films. The problem is that there are so many more than ten French films that I have loved. And trying to put them in numerical order is equally challenging.

Instead, here is a list of ten French films closest to my heart – at the moment anyway! I have another list of French films which I haven’t seen – yet!

In no particular order:

paris je

This film is actually made up of a series of eighteen short vignettes, set in different areas of Paris, and with a variety of directors and actors. Some of the short ‘stories’ are more to my taste then others but this is a film that I return to on a regular basis.


Another charming film set in Paris and, again, one that I have watched countless times.


This film was made in 2004 and is set in a strict boarding school for ‘challenging’ boys, some time after the second World War. A new music teacher arrives at the school and sets up a choir. It is really a testament to the power of music and singing.

diving bell

This is based on the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby. He was the editor-in-chief of ‘Elle’ magazine and was aged forty three when he suffered a massive stroke. This left him with locked in syndrome. I thought this was a very thought proving and moving film.

etre et

This charming documentary takes place in a small single-class village school over the course of one academic year. A dozen youngsters, aged 4-10, are taught every subject by one teacher. 51GMasUgnIL._AC_UL320_SR226,320_

I love thrillers and I love Juliette Binoche!

au revoir

This was one of the first films I went to see with Monsieur FF before we were married. It’s directed by Louis Malle and is another film set in a boarding school but in 1943, in Nazi  occupied France.  It is a story of childhood and friendship. We found it very moving and you are likely to need some tissues handy if you haven’t watched it yet!


I have only recently discovered Omar Sy and I am currently ‘bingeing’ on his films! The focus of this comedy-drama, is on the unlikely friendship which develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his carer (Omar Sy), who has just been released from prison.

homme a l'hauteur

I have reviewed this film in a previous post:


la famille b

This film tells the story of a girl who comes from a deaf family but discovers she has an amazing singing voice. Apparently, there was some criticism over the whole premise of the film and cast but I just watched it at face value without being aware of some of the issues behind the scenes. That’s possibly a failing on my part…

There are so many other films that I could have mentioned in this post. Perhaps another time?

I’d really love to know if you have seen any of these films? If you have, what was your opinion of them? And, of course, can you recommend any more French film to me?







C’est chic…?!

Well, hello lovely readers! I do hope there are still some folk reading this blog. It seems to have been an awful long time since I wrote my last post. It’s mainly a question of life getting in the way – especially where family is involved.

Anyway, I’ve been planning this post for some time and it’s mainly thanks to one of my favourite bloggers, Catherine https://atypical60.com/ She is a very funny, feisty and opinionated American blogger who happens to have a French husband. She loves France, too and has some interesting thoughts about French style.

Why chic? ‘Chic’ is a word that is bandied about a lot but what does it actually mean? I decided to do some research via the dictionary.

Here’s what I found: ‘elegantly and stylishly fashionable’.
“she looked every inch the chic Frenchwoman

And there’s the rub. Is this a myth, a stereotype or the truth? Chic is an adjective often applied to French women and you only have to look on Pinterest, for example, to see countless boards telling us ‘How to be Parisian’ or ‘How to dress like a French woman’.



But, as someone who has a home in France, I have to tell you that not every French woman is chic. I love people watching and I am on the look out for some local chic French women so that I can take their photo and put them on this blog, assuming they don’t mind! Unfortunately, I haven’t spotted any yet… I think this is because there is not a lot of money in the area where we live and perhaps all the chic people are at work… If we go to the nearest city, Toulouse, there are lots of chic and stylish people around but there are also lots of people who are less so. Toulouse is a university town and has a feeling of affluence, so perhaps this is the reason.

I believe that ‘chicness’ – is there such a word? – varies considerably from town to town, place to place, country to country. I know of Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, Indian (I could go on) women who are incredibly stylish. There are even some in the United Kingdom!! JOKE…

But, I would suggest that there is a classic look that we ascribe to French women; including simple black dress, white tailored shirt, trenchcoat, striped top … Ah, striped tops. We all know of my love of the striped top!

photo (1)


But is this accurate? Anecdotally, when I was working as a primary languages consultant, in the UK, I was observing a French lesson and I heard one of the pupils comment that I must be French because I was wearing a striped top! Vive les stéréotypes!

While looking at the original definition of chic, I decided to look at synonyms for this word. What should appear but ‘stylish’? If you put ‘French style’ into a search engine, page after page are available to tell women how to dress like a French woman. I’m sure this advice is all very helpful should that be your goal but, as far as I am concerned, it is more important to find one’s own style, whatever that may be. I feel I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here…

As a more mature woman, I do get fed up with being told what I can or can’t wear because of my age. Not that I take any notice! A subject for another blog post, perhaps?!

As I’m beginning to ramble and this post risks turning into a dissertation, I’ll finish by saying that there are certain French style ‘icons’ whose style I do admire. These include Coco Chanel, Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Hardy, Juliette Binoche, Ines de la Fressange but there are many other style icons I could name who are not French.

I’d love to know your thoughts about French style and French ‘chicness’ ! Is it a myth, a stereotype, a generalisation or the truth?! Do please share!





Jean Dujardin … late to the party?,

Me, that is, not him, obviously.

At this point, I must ‘fess up that I have never seen ‘The Artist’ (for which he won an Oscar) nor ‘The Monuments Men’.



But I have seen ‘Un homme à la hauteur’

homme a l'hauteur

Or ‘Up for Love’ as it is called in English. Some of the English reviews of this film were less than enthusiastic, especially about the special effects used to ‘shorten’ Jean Dujardin. The implication being that it would have been better to cast an actor who is genuinely small. Nevertheless , I thought it was a really charming film. Perhaps I’m just a real romantic at heart or easily pleased! But Jean’s smile… well, what can I say? And those eyes… I think you get the idea!

I really enjoyed the soundtrack, too. It introduced me to the music of Emilie Gassin which I didn’t know before.

Have you seen this film and are you a Jean Dujardin fan? It would be really interesting to know!

I am linking this post to #All About France. A great place to discover lots of interesting blogs with a focus on France.