Provence Amber Davenport

Amber Davenport

France is of course one of our nearest neighbours (just 20 miles or so over the water, you can even see the mainland on a clear day from Kent or Sussex). It’s not true that there no love lost, in fact we all get on fine, it’s the media that tries to whip up problems. See the end of this post for the real facts on the people risking their lives to cross the English channel, it’s not how the mass media report it. For now, here are a few things we can learn from the French!

French people love themselves! Forget going anorexic to look like girls in magazines, French women know they rock, whether they’re fat, thin, old or young. They focus on self-care and use good beauty products if they work, not to be slave to fashion magazines. Italian filmmaker Elena Rossini says that a 50-year old woman who likes herself is of no use to the ‘big beauty’ business, as they can’t make any money off her insecurities.

Drink more water (and a little wine). Like Italy, you won’t find drunks on the street in France. French women do sometimes smoke, but they also eat 3 meals a day, drink lots of water, only drink wine with meals, and walk everywhere, saving a patisserie treat for special occasions. There’s no secret to ‘why French women stay slim’. They don’t eat American-size muffins or bags of chips every day.

Dress up a little! France is quite a traditional society, where men expect women to make a little effort. Like it or not, a woman with greasy slicked-back hair lounging around in a food-stained tracksuit is not the done thing in France. Even if she goes to post a letter, a French lady will slap on lipstick, brush her hair and wear quality clothing that flatters her figure. Again, this is more for self-care, not to be a fashion victim of the mass media.

French people eat good bread. A French person would never go near our cotton-wool plastic-wrapped loaves. In France, bakers are not  allowed to take holidays at the same time. Treat yourself to a good loaf from an indie baker. If baking your own bread, keep fresh dough (and other toxic ingredients) away from pets. 

French people don’t waste food. In France, it’s ILLEGAL to throw out food! All edible food has to be donated if still in date, or you’ll be accosted by a gendarme with his baton! This law has been around since 2016, so why is our government taking so long to follow suit? It’s estimated that UK supermarkets throw away around 190 million meals a year, which could feed hungry people.

What not to learn from France. France remains one of 5 countries worldwide to still produce foie gras, a food that force-feeds geese or ducks, until their livers turn to pate. It’s still legal to sell in the UK, so boycott shops, restaurants and hotels that serve it.

why do people risk lives crossing the channel?

British Red Cross has a good article on the stories behind the tabloid headlines (most of which aren’t true). Obviously this is a serious issue, but publishing misleading articles in newspapers is not the way to solve things. The big argument often used by many right-wing journalists is why (when France can keep refugees safe too) is why they always come to England? The answer is obvious: because often they have family here, nobody is going to risk life and limb going on a boat, if they have the chance to stay in France, which is a nice country to live in.

It’s because often after years of separation due to becoming refugees, they wish to be reunited with their loved ones, just as you would:

If you think about where you might go if your home was being bombed or your life was at risk because of persecution, it would probably be somewhere where you know someone. We would all want to be able to hug and hold our family again, after experiencing such horrors. British Red Cross

Other reasons include language (it’s more common for refugees to know English so there is more chance of finding work and accommodation). And the little-known fact that the media often leave out is that it’s not the decision of the refugees where they go. They are often leaving in fear and secrecy, and are at the mercy of smugglers who decide where they are going. The lack of an official legal route for asylum seekers to the UK (which is what campaigners want) means they are left in limbo, rather than coming legally to fight their case (they would then be deported if there was no case, but could come here safely without drowning off boats if they had a case).

The other reason that migrants often travel to England is one that many MPs would not like to talk about: the fact that employment is tightly regulated in France, so it’s more difficult to find work as unlike England, it’s not easy to find work as a poorly-paid and badly-treated employee of some shady outfit. Migrants are often desperate to work and will ‘do the jobs that nobody else will here’ like working in abattoirs (that would give most people constant nightmares’).

It’s interesting that despite all the anti-migrant rhetoric, during the pandemic when we had no immigrants to pick our food, the government was encouraging people to get involved on farms. They didn’t realise that picking crops for farms is actually a skilled job, and most of us are not able to do it. MPs were looking at empty plates, and wondering why!

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