To kiss or not to kiss

(Kaz O'Reilly) #1

... that is the question

Monday, March 29, 2010

Having a baby in France

The last post reminded me of a funny document I received from my gyno on my first visit to him when discovering I was pregnant. I've dug out the "conseils pour la grossesse" so you can compare with your own doctor. Apart from all the usual advice - here's some unusual ones:

You think for the first time in your life that it is okay to get fat and you can eat what you want?! Ma chérie, we are en france , the answer is non:

  • Replace all sugar with canderel products.

  • Honey, nougat, biscuits, bonbons, chocolate bars, icecream are forbidden

  • You can have a dessert on a Sunday but only a "demi-portion" (half a portion)

  • Fruit ( with sugar ) is not allowed

  • Fruit juices and fizzy drinks are off the menu

  • Do not eat for two.

  • Do not drink for two , although a few glasses of wine is ok.

  • Do not put on more than 10 kilos ( so what happens if you put on more, are you supposed to go on a diet? I asked my doc. The answer ? Oui! )

Never ever wear trousers. You must wear skirts at all times.

Do not change sexual partners during your pregnancy ("Do people have sex when they're pregnant?!" I wondered). This rule applies to the father also!
(A free test is allowed for the father to ensure he does not have any infectious diseases as picked up from other partners!)

Do not wear knickers

If you feel hungry, replace food with sex ( with the father of the child , see above). This will help you not to put on too much weight. Not surprisingly, pregnancy in France is called "La Grossesse" : The Fatness!!!

So , as you can see, my gyno , along with everyone else in France is obsessed with weight and sex!

As we say very often here in France, you just could not make it up!

112 candles

"112 bougies pour Marcelle la doyenne régionale
C'est bien entourée que Marcelle Narbonne a fêté hier ses 112 printemps à la maison de retraite d'Argelès où elle réside. Témoin de l'histoire, elle est aussi l'une des doyennes de notre pays."

The oldest lady in the department of the Pyrenees Orientales was 112 on Friday last. Born in 1898, Marcelle Narbonne's life has straddled three centuries. Married once, she has never had any children - Her lifetime has seen 19 French presidents come and go, she was a girl of 14 when the Titanic sank and can remember a life before electricity in her house, before radio, television, fridges and all mod cons. She can still walk unaided and lives in a nursing home in Argeles sur Mer.

People are living longer these days ; In 1950, there were 200 people over the age of 100 in the world. Today there are 20,000 who have blown out 100 candles or more .. France boasts the largest proportion of centurions per head of population in Europe. The reason for this is that France has the best medical system in the world ( according to the World Health Organisation ) and the increasing number of specialised retirement homes keeping the ole dears alive..

After having two babies in the medical system here in France, I can vouch for the excellency of the service. While recuperating at the clinique, I kept referring to the hospital as the hotel, because that's what it felt like .. and a nice hotel at that! There was a bed for my partner to stay in the same room with me and help out with new babe, the restaurant would do the rounds every morning with the menus so you could choose your meals from a wide choice of tasty dishes ( rabbit in mustard sauce with gratin dauphinois for example!) and the staff and treatment were second to none.

So whereas France can be a difficult country to do business in ( more on that later ), where taxes are high and the bureaucracy, overwhelming, I do think that France, and in particular , the South of France where we live with it's mild winters and warm summers, is the best country to plan your retirement in.

Alors, here's to sipping some fab cotes de roussillon wine, nibbling on fresh baguette and local cheeses ( with our own teeth) and tripping the light fantastic on our 100th birthday!

Bravo Marcelle (agus Go mbeirimid beo ag an am seo arís!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

To kiss or not to kiss ...

... that is the question!

French kissing ( of the cheek pecking variety) can be a complicated procedure. First of all, there's the question of who does one kiss and who does one shake hands with .. to do the wrong thing can be either very rude or very forward, although French people do make allowances for les irlandais if we slip up on the kissing etiquette.

The rules:

  1. You kiss good friends once on each cheek. The number of times varies from place to place in France. In the North of France , for example, you may be kissed up to four times!

  2. You kiss good friends of friends when you are introduced.

  3. Generally you do not make contact with your lips and other persons cheek, but you do not air kiss either

  4. At a soirée with a mixed group, of people you have and have not met before, you kiss everyone

  5. Men NEVER kiss men, unless they are blood relations - they shake hands

  6. It is very rude to kiss someone you don't know and very rude not to kiss someone you do know

  7. You only kiss on the first time you meet a person on that day and if a soirée ,perhaps when leaving as well ..

  8. One might start a meeting with a handshake and end the social event with a kiss if you have got on particularly well

Confused yet? You should be!

But the main thing I suppose is not to take it too seriously , to go with the flow and to be consistent. If you kiss one person once , you must continue to kiss them or they will assume you are shunning them. The french just instinctively know when and when not to kiss and which cheek to plump for first ( I often end up headbutting my recipient kissers!), so take your cue from the masters of the kiss. They learn this at a very early age - it's cute to see all the kids greeting each other at school with the obligatory two pecks.

So, when in France, lay off the garlic, floss those teeth and pucker up! C'est l'heure to kiss some frogs!