The France Fifteen

Apologies for being a bit late with this one…

Fall has arrived in the Rhône- Alpes.  There is a chill in the air; the mountains are changing from lush green to oranges and yellows.  Coats and scarves are being brought out of closets; and heaters are being turned on for the first time.  Now is the time when dinner tables begin to be adorned with tartiflette, raclette, and fondue (MB did manage to eat fondue twice in July).  It is the time to revel in the rich, heavy, delicious cuisine of the Savoyard region.  It is the time for…

What the F?

That can’t possibly be right.

I look down at the scale again, willing the numbers to change.  Quickly I do the math from kilos to pounds…sweet jesus.

Now is the time to go on a ridiculous Hollywood-style cleanse?

This first year in France reminds me of the first year in college when girls are destined to gain the dreaded “freshman fifteen”.  Everyone tells you it is going to happen and you nod along; but secretly you think, “not to me.”  Then the next thing you know you are zipping your jeans up with pliers and scared to squat because they might rip open.  Just like this, the “French fifteen” is a very real thing.  And now, just when things are getting cold and all I want to do is munch on fat-laden food, I find a scale.

For months now I have been skating by…knowing that I have gained weight but pretending that it is not as bad as I think it is in my head.  At first it was funny; I would stare down in the shower and think, “wow, that belly was not there before; it’s kind of cute!”  But the days of laughing at cheese babies have long gone and I have realized that it is time to get serious.

But how does one engage in un régime (diet) in the Rhône-Alpes in winter ?

I can see it now.  MB will come home to find me licking the wallpaper.

“What are you doing?” He will say.

“It’s delicious; you should have some!”   I will say this with a slur, as my tongue will not leave the wallpaper completely.


I will turn back to look at him wild-eyed.  “The fondue!  It’s melting down the walls; don’t waste it!”

And then I would have to spend the rest of my life in an insane asylum (although I’m guessing that, in France, even in insane asylums they have good food).

In the meantime (pre-cheese hallucinations), I’m going to have to buckle down.  The tartiflette will have to wait; and raclette will be something I enjoy in the new year while I desperately attempt to shed some of my “France fifteen”.  So if you happen to be wandering through our region in the next couple of months and see a girl crying outside a fromagerie, you can safely assume that it is me.



  1. lol awww….it’s true that sticking to a diet in this part of France in winter might be very hard. Temptation is everywhere, and the upcoming Xmas markets won’t help. I say, if you manage to eat well during the week (load up on soups!), treat yourself to some fromage or fromage based meal on the weekend. You only live once, and you might not always live in France, so enjoy it while you’re here, dammit.

    I might be the only person who lost a bit of weight when I arrived in France, but that’s only because I was a homesick mess who doesn’t like meat and most cheeses. All the calories from the gallons of white wine I inhaled to ease the homesickness were promptly burned off in fits of anxiety and walking EVERYWHERE because I lived in a village with no buses and I didn’t have a car.

    Hmmm…6 years later it’s pretty much the same story….



    1. You are right about just being good during the week – no reason to be miserable on the weekends. I’ve been making veggie soups like it’s going out of style – pumpkin, cauliflower, carrot. I reckon I can live off those for a while. haha!

      I think that is my problem here – everything is too close to my house so I don’t walk around enough during the day. In Australia and NZ I walked SO much! Ah well, that is what the gym is for!



  2. I call mine the “Christian 15”, because ever since meeting Christian I have gained weight, steadily. We eat food cooked, french style, in butter, cream and white wine all while sipping out of the white wine bottle. Add another bottle or two of wine– and that is EVERY night with that man. It is a good life, don’t get me wrong, but I need a better workout plan!!



  3. Maybe your weight gain is from all the *muscle* your body is developing. Think about it: each time you walk to the boulangerie, your legs are becoming more muscular. With each motion to cut another piece of cheese, your forearms are growing muscles. And with each lifting of the wineglass to your lips, you’re developing your biceps.

    Am I helping? 😉



  4. Prudent points, all. I will have to put this into consideration of my diet – think of the muscle tone I would lose if I just stopped drinking. It would be catastrophic! haha! 🙂



  5. I’m in a full on battle with the French 15 at the moment. I will banish it from my bottom! At least 7.5 of it! i just want to fit back into my jeans again. Damn you baguettes. Damn you cheese. Damn you wine…



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