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Posts tagged ‘London’

No. 162: France, London-style

I’m traveling to London and environs again to lend support to Button as she auditions for more Musical Theatre programs and to spend time with the much missed Kitcat in Epsom.

I feel like I haven’t been in Paris forever and I have really been missing my life in France. Lucky for me, London seems to (secretly) love the French, as much as I do, as every time I turn around, I seem to run into a little bit of France—London-style, i.e. a bit on the larger (and sometimes slightly cheekier) side of the scale.

As I’ve mentioned before, London is the sixth largest French city in the world with more than 400,000 Frenchies making their home here—in fact, there are more French in London than in Bordeaux.

Here’s a glimpse of why I’m feeling right at home this weekend.

These pastries are all at least twice the size of their compatriots in France…but, bigger is not necessarily better…

Maison Ladurée looks just about the same, although with a much smaller selection at this one…

And of course, Pret à Manger, one of my favorite "French" quick food alternatives...

And of course, Pret à Manger, one of my favorite “French” quick food alternatives…

No. 43: Les Rosbifs

As I’ve mentioned several times in other posts, I do love the fact that living in France affords me the opportunity to not only visit the United Kingdom, but has also allowed me to make friends with a group of wonderful British women living in Paris. Interestingly I actually seem to fit in better with the British community and the other non-American expats than with my own kind.

Yep, one of the 365 things I love about France is indeed *les rosbifs. I find their humor and candor refreshing and of course, I love their accents. I like their worldliness and global perspective. I like that they provide a reality check on America’s place in the world. I like the fact that their national news is international. And, I love their vocabulary. Why be “great” when you can instead be “brilliant”?

Have a go at these few lines:

Having skived off work and legged it to his mate’s flat, they had a knees up with the neighbors and faffed around. The next morning feeling a bit wonky, the poor bloke was so knackered he had a kip wearing nothing but his pants. Even though it was monkeys outside when he woke up, he popped over to the chemist wearing only his pants and his mac to pick up some nappies, plasters, and bog roll. At least he wasn’t starkers. On the way back home a tosser of a lollipop man stopped him as a long parade of lasses eating fairy cake and candy-floss blocked the street. He thought to himself, this is “total pants”, but not wanting to whinge about it, decide to make the best of a bad situation and pop into a pub for a pint and some bangers and mash.

Have you lost the plot?


bangers and mash: sausage and mashed potatoes

blog roll: toilet paper

chemist: the pharmacy/ pharmacist

candy-floss: cotton candy

had a knees up: to go to a dance party

faffed around: dither, waste time

fairy cake: cupcakes

it’s monkeys outside: it’s very cold

kip: sleep or nap

knackered: exhausted

lass(es): girl(s)

leg it: run or run for it

lollipop man/woman: crossing guard

lost the plot: gone crazy

mac: raincoat, short for Macintosh

nappies: diapers

pants: underwear (the Brits say trousers)

plasters: Band-Aids

skive off: evade or avoid something

starkers: naked

tosser: idiot

total pants: nonsense, rubbish, crap

whinge: whine

wonky: not right

**les rosbifs: Calling a Brit a “roast beef” is a French insult in line with the Anglo insult “frog”. I believe it was originally a gastronomic term describing the English style of cooking beef. At some point in history, a French king sent a delegation to England to learn this specialize way of cooking meat. Clearly this was before the French became the culinary champions of the world.



No. 42: London

It may be a bit cheeky to add London to the list of the 365-things-I-love-about-France, but with the ability to jump on a high-speed train and arrive less than 2 ½ hours later smack dab in the middle of the world’s most popular city, it deserves a place on the list.

And if you’re still not convinced that it’s list worthy, consider this French connection: more French people live in London than in Bordeaux, Nantes or Strasbourg. Yep, 400,000 “frogs,” reside in London making it the sixth largest French city in the world!

No. 41: The “Frogs”

While in London this weekend, I asked around about why the Brits call the French “Frogs”. Most people assume the nickname comes from the Frenchies taste for frog legs. However, it turns out there are a whole bunch of different theories about where this term of endearment or offense (depending on your prospective) originated.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Fleur-de-Lys: During the Middle Ages the French flew a blue flag with a gold fleur-de-lys on it. The English, unfamiliar with the fleur-de-lys, mistook the flower for a frog, and had a right old laugh about a country that would put a gold frog on their flag, and thus began sarcastically calling their nemesis “frogs”.

Elizabeth I & Her Term of Affection: Apparently England’s Queen Elizabeth I had a strong affinity for frogs and often used the word to refer to her closest friends and lovers. At some point one of her dangerous liaisons was with her top diplomat to France, and their juicy correspondence often began with “My dear frog…” Somehow word got out about this term of endearment, and the French became the frogs.

The Swamp: Before Napoleon and Haussmann came in to clean up Paris and transform it into the city we know today, the city was much less the city of light and much more the city of frogs (quite literally). Paris was swampy and therefore full of many little croakers. The now upscale Marais–which means swamp, was in fact a swamp, back in the day, and a very undesirable place to live. The monied-folk living outside of the city in places like Versailles began referring to those who lived in the swamp, as the “frogs”. Foreign ambassadors took a shine to the term, and voilà, the French became the frogs.

Culinary Observations in WWI: British soldiers observed their French comrades odd affection for eating frog legs while serving side-by-side in the trenches, and felt they had no other choice than to call their allies frogs.

Camouflaged Foes: During the next war, WWII, it is claimed that the French resistance fighters were so brilliant at hiding from the Germans, that the Germans began to grumble that trying to find them was like trying to find a frog in a murky pond.

So there you have it. Which do you prefer? Do you know any other stories that explain the amphibian nickname?

Next up: Why the French call the British “roast beefs”…

No. 9: The Eurostar

EurostarAnother thing I love about France is the Eurostar. Why? Well, when you get fed up with the Frenchies, it’s reassuring to know that a culture I understand a little bit better is a mere 2 hours and 20 minutes away by high speed train. For those with nightmares of dying a soggy death in a tunnel under the English Channel, you only have to close your eyes and hold your breath for a scant 22 minutes.

Inside the Chunnel

Inside the Chunnel