Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do French Women Get Fat?

Kevin and I skipped off  to the South Of France for two weeks - and we now know the answer to the eternal question - Do French Women Get Fat?

Photo: Alamy 

Yes, Kevin and I have slipped away again by ourselves.... ever so quietly - this time to France for nine days. For the last four days we've been staying in the tiny hillside town of Saint-Paul de Vence, near Nice. Tucking into huge blocks of cheese and French bread over the weekend (as you do) I had many questions about the French. And the best person to answer is our host, Linda, an Australian who lives here with her children Madison, 13 and Theo, 11. As this photo shows, we knew them ten years ago in London when Madison was best friends with our son Harley.

Linda with Madison and Kevin with Harley, Ladbroke Square, London

Ten years later: Linda with Madison and Theo and I at their 1770 home in Saint-Paul de Vence
Linda and I in the village square
Linda has lived in France off-and-on for 20 years and full-time for the past eight years in a 1770 former farmhouse. Needless to say both she and her kids are bi-lingual.  Linda explained that French food is not normally smothered in sauces and the custom is to eat one dish at a time.  Accordingly, we sat outside eating loads of melon, barbequed pork chops, cheese bought from the markets in Italy where Linda shops most weeks and lashings of Madison's tabouli with chopped-up everything from their garden.  But how civilized, one dish at a time.

Linda puts on a barbie for us at her home




Linda's home in Saint-Paul de Vence
We never stay at anyone's house with the kids - that would produce fear and loathing from even the most tolerant of hosts. But because we were by ourselves we accepted Linda's generous invite to stay and it was a great chance to pick her brain. What are five things we may not know about the French?

Linda's Five Facts:
1. Quelle horreur! French women do get fat. The ones that don't get fat eat an apple and a low-fat yoghurt for lunch, a salad for dinner and drink coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes all day long. French women who get fat eat cheese and bread and wine and ham and pate and pastries and croissants etc and this shows they enjoy life. French women who are skinny and hence do not eat are miserable (and never speak in English). See number 6.
2. French women wear beautiful and expensive underwear. Once could speculate that the health of the French lingerie market is directly linked to the high occupancy rates of hotel rooms between, say, 3pm and 5pm on Friday afternoons.
3. Single men and especially single women do not get invited to seated dinner parties unless it is to make up numbers. The general rule is that there has to be an even number of men and women at the table. The perceived threat of a single women is directly proportional to her lingerie budget (see no 2).
4. There are rules for everything in France including how to cut cheese. There are more than 360 cheeses and a certain way to cut each. The general rule is that you cut to ensure you share the best part, whether it be the centre or the mould.
5. You always kiss friends on the cheek as a greeting and when you say goodbye -  most people know that. But each area is France has a different number of "bise" or kisses. In Paris it's four, along the Atlantic it's six times.
6. And a bonus fact from Madison. We think of French as the language of love, but Madison says it's perfectly suits anger. Madison, 13. "I find it easier to shout at someone in French. When I get mad at my brother it's always in French. When I'm happy, I speak in English." Linda agrees with her daughter, and adds: French is also very good for complaining.
 
Au Revoir Linda, Madison and Theo - merci beaucoup! mwa, mwa, mwa, mwa.


 Please feel free to add to the list!

39 comments:

  1. I have nothing to add. I just envy you :)

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  2. Oooh, the things I learn from you my daily visits here!!

    Well, I must say- Linda sure looks *fantastic for having lived in France for such a lengthy period :). (wonder what her secret is!?)

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  3. Yes, very educational! I hope you continue to tell us things you learn on your travels. Keeps me happy until I can trot about the globe once again. :)

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  4. I really enjoyed this post. Their house looks so romantic. How funny about the number of guests!

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  5. how lovely to get away to such a setting. i learned a lot from this post, and enjoyed imagining myself there.

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  6. p.s.(sorry, it's me again)
    I did not read French Women Don't Get Fat, but I did think that was an ambitious statement when the book came out.
    xx
    Maya

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  7. Can we trade places for a bit lady? : )

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  8. What delightful information, and a neat travelogue, too.
    Les femmes françaises ne deviennent pas grosses; elles sont juste énormément en bonne santé.
    Any croissants left? Could you pass the paté please? Bear is hungry from just reading your post.

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  9. I've got to put the hyphen back on my last name

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  10. Jealous. That is all. Jealous.

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  11. you slipped quietly away? WHATEVAAAA.
    I lived in Paris for a year and Clermont Ferrand for a year when I was young. I didn't see many fat girls but I did see swathes of gorgeous, tricky French boys. Aaaah, dreamy.

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  12. I totally agree. There are ever more larger women in fact. Did you know that the French are amongst the highest users of laxatives? It's because they're so anally retentive LOL. :)

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  13. I'm so jealous - wish I were in France! And I LOVE the picture of you and your kiddos as babies and then the picture today. Very neat!

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  14. Nothing to add other than my seething jealousy!! ; )

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  15. Can I run away to France for a few days, too????
    That sounds like total Heaven!

    http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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  16. Their house in France looks divine - I want to go there now! Love the the inside look at the French. It's so funny, because I ordered the book about French women not getting fat when I was on maternity leave years ago. I joked then that the thin ones didn't get fat because all they did was smoke all day. Too funny that you said the same thing! But, I've always heard, too, that the food they eat is healthier/fresher and that they walk, at least those in Paris, most everywhere they go. Is that the case? Enjoy your time there!

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  17. How civilized! Jealous? Moi? Oui!

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  18. I will now be dreaming about that house today, and the food, and that pool, and, and , and...

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  19. Do you not have the most interesting life!! I love her answers! How sweet that you have a photo of them when they were babies with your babies! Beautiful family. :)

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  20. How wonderful to be in France! Ah I want to go back. I love the interesting facts here! Very fascinating! I thought French women don't really get fat. Maybe they do, but many aren't because of portion control and their food is a lot fresher and pure than it is in the states.

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  21. My favourite sentence? "The perceived threat of a single women is directly proportional to her lingerie budget".

    My recollections of Nice from a recent visit centred on the number of well-heeled women who carried tiny dogs - the richer the woman, the smaller the pooch.

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  22. ahh i love france. what i wouldnt do for a trip there :)

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  23. Fascinating! Do you mean two kisses when you greet and two when you leave? The four kisses thing confused me. I love to learn about cultures. I've been to NZ!

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  24. love this list! but 4 kisses? i come from the midwest where we don't really even hug our friends that much. it was an adjustment coming to NYC where a kiss is much more frequent. but 4? golly.

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  25. i love looking at your photos and reading your posts because i feel like i've traveled to all the places you've been to. :) how great it must be to stay in france for 9 days. :D

    <3, Mimi
    http://whatmimiwrites.blogspot.com/

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  26. Argh! I'm so jealous. I spent six months in Marseilles many years ago and loved it. Not anywhere near as glam as St Paul but I miss it still.

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  27. I enjoyed so much this post!! I love France and I would love to live there!! J'aime la langue française!!

    Have a beautiful weekend, honey!! xoxoxo

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  28. St Paul de Vence is tres chic and very beloved of the sort of French women who chain smoke and fit neatly into a size 6. Now, if you went to rural France where I used to live, you'd see a plethora of overweight women in nylon tabards and wellies (in the winter) or slippers (in the summer). Thank god that Weight Watchers arrived a few years ago. In the country single women just don't get invited and if you went into a bar or cafe on your own, well you might just as well hang a red light up over your head.

    I totally agree with Madison though, swearing in French is much more satisfying! Great post.

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  29. So delicious and delightful! The French women do get fat thing should be a column in the New Yorker or some similar better fit--you are such a great writer Jody. Hope you and your hubby are having a wonderful time!

    xo Mary Jo

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  30. Is it true that the rest of France hate the Parisians? We were talking about this just last night.

    As for 6 kisses - pretty extreme. But then I am English. There's just no need for that sort of thing over here!

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  31. Oooooh, you had me squeal with excitement here - can't wait to pack up myself and embark on our next France trip. Only 11 more days to wait!!!

    PS: You might find this entertaining: http://www.metropolitanmum.co.uk/2010/04/malnourished-monday-16-french-women-don’t-get-fat/ ;-)

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  32. Gosh you are so lucky jetting off to France! I love the country, can't wait to go back myself x

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  33. I absolutely love your blog!!! I have just woken up and was enjoying your story about french women with a cup of coffee! Very interesting! Since now following you! Greetings from Spain! :) Here girls do getting fat )))

    http://unachicafashiontastica.blogspot.com/

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  34. Sounds blissful and the cheese, please say you brought home some cheese

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  35. chuckle, that was fun and funny.
    and thanks for passing on the knowledge to all the envious ones out there, that skinny French women are HUNGRY French women.

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  36. I love her description of France----- just goes to show, there is always more going on beneath the surface!

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  37. She looks incredible. And I love the comment about French being the language of anger. Ha.
    Alexa
    www.theshortandthesweetofit.com

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  38. Hurrah on number one! I hate that myth about French women not getting fat, the majority of the whippet women are indeed surging on coffee cigarettes red wine and the odd crust.

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