I decided in early 2018 to train as a certified life coach, under the caring (but watchful) eye of award-winning life coach Carol Ann Rice. Why? Mostly because I think life coaching is a beautiful profession, having witnessed how completely life-changing it can be, but also because it seemed like a natural progression from my previous career as a journalist. Both are indeed very similar -listening to people’s stories, asking relevant questions, getting insights- with the added bonus that as a life coach, I can actually help them to reach their goals.
As a seasoned journalist (London correspondent for French national publications ELLE, Le Point and Liberation, contributor to British publications such as RED, founder of website Chic-Londres), I spent over 15 years interviewing dozens of high-profile personalities and celebrities, including politicians, Premier League footballers, movie stars and famous entrepreneurs. A four-year stint as Head of Membership and Forums & Clubs at the French Chamber of Britain and as a freelance consultant for luxury companies saw me working alongside many high profile CEOs of well-known companies, such as Jimmy Choo, Eurostar or De Beers, and socialising on a regular basis with A-list actors, top models and world-famous singers.
While my job has often seen me doing glamorous assignments, I’ve also had some grittier assignments, such as interviewing inmates in a high security prison, homeless people in shelters and victims of rape. So while I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen it and heard it all, I have had the privilege to listen to some incredible stories. Interestingly, “I can’t believe I told you that” is a phrase I have heard over and over in my career, and one of the biggest compliments I have ever received. And if you’re ready to tell me your story, then I can’t wait to listen.
A few facts
I was born and raised in Paris, where I studied for my two Masters, one in History at La Sorbonne, the second in Politics at Sciences-po (described as “France’s elite factory” by The Economist, due in part to the fact that most of France’s Prime ministers and presidents have studied there). I also graduated from the Centre de Formation des Journalistes de Paris, the leading journalism school in France.
In 2000, I produced and directed two TV documentaries, both set in Australia, which were shown on prime time in Franco-German channel Arte and sold worldwide: one was about a highly successful rehabilitation programme in a high security prison where inmates look after injured and orphan wild animals, and for which I shadowed a double murderer, a drug dealer and a bank burglar for one week; the other about a special Sydney police unit, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers, which fights homophobia through targeted programmes in schools and among various LGBT communities.
I am the very proud single mother of two gorgeous teenage girls (both taller than me). One thing I knew from a young age was that I wanted to be a mother and, having been brought up as an only child, that I wanted to have several - 4 was my ideal number although, having separated from my ex-husband when my second was six months old, I ended up only having two- but they’re perfect!
I love water-skiing, and I never feel more alive than when I indulge in the occasional water adventure, from cage-diving with white sharks in South Africa, to free-diving in underwater caves in Mexico, to white rafting in Zimbabwe in crocodile-infested waters, to canyoning in the mountains of Corsica. I have been swimming in the Thames for the past 10 summers, and once dived from a 7-metre bridge in Surrey.
In 2003, I was car-jacked at knife point with my then 22-months old baby by a crack addict who made me drive for two hours around London, before going on to stab (almost to death) an American banker and his wife. That was pretty traumatic, but also eye-opening, by making me aware of how calm and resourceful I could be under duress.
In 2004, while seven months pregnant, I travelled to Libya with Seif Gaddafi, then his father Muammar’s heir apparent, in his family’s private plane, an Airbus 320 that included a Black satin-walled bedroom which he shared with a Romanian escort. Aside from interviewing Seif in Tripoli, I visited various sites, including a nuclear reactor where I was given a paper robe as protection. Blanche, my youngest at 14, is 5’8 and in great health, so there must have been something good in those atoms!
Funnily enough, I also interviewed Tony Blair in a plane, in March 2002, while travelling back from the Commonwealth Summit in Noosa (Australia), being the first French journalist to get an exclusive interview with him since he had become Prime minister. When I went to meet him in the private travel area he was sharing with his wife Cherie, he greeted me by saying: “How the hell did you get that interview!”. The answer was by pestering his adviser Alastair Campbell, then dubbed his “dark soul” but whom I found to be actually very decent and honest.
I’ve always loved travelling, and having a mother who worked for 40 years at Air France certainly helped with that. Since graduating, I have lived and worked in Paris, Hanoi and Sydney, before settling in London in 1999. Both my sides of the family are French (Corsica on my father’s side, Jura on my mother’s), although I’ve also fancied myself as a bit more exotic- East Asia and Middle East were my guesses. As it is, after doing a DNA test, it happens that I’m 99,6% European, with my strongest genes being Italian and French, with two direct ancestors from the 19th century originating from Spain and Britain.
I absolutely love clothes, and have been collecting vintage for over 30 years, when going to thrift stores and flea markets was frown upon (especially by my mother!) and wearing used clothes seen as a bit of an oddity. As a result, I’ve accumulated a treasure trove of vintage wonders, some over 100-year old, as well as a few wonderful Chanel and Hermès family heirlooms.
in 1993, when I was 22-year old, Michele Zaza, former leader of the Cosa-Nostra Camorra, the Naples mafia, then in house arrest in the South of France and a neighbour to my father, cooked lobster pasta for me- apparently I reminded him of his daughter. I was somehow in familiar territory as one of my Corsican grandfather’s cousins was a well known figure of the French Connection. My father chose a different path, joining the army at 18 and then later on the police as presidential bodyguard to De Gaulle and Pompidou, sometime disappearing for months abroad on special missions.
I love to go out and have fun with friends, and have built a bit of a reputation as a party animal. But while I can be out all night dancing at a party, I am also a complete homebody, and never happier than when I snuggle in the sofa with my kids watching a series on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video (The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are among our favourites).
I am currently writing a novel about female members of the French resistance, set in Nazi-occupied Paris. I did my History Masters on that subject, which is close to my heart as several members of my family were in the Resistance, both in France and in London with Charles de Gaulle. Also, interviewing former resistants Raymond Aubrac and Stephane Hessel remains one of my career most treasured moments. One of my grandmother’s cousins, Claude Simon (albeit far removed), won the Nobel Prize in Literature: I’ll never get there, but I keep it in mind.
As more and more professionals in their 40s, I have now adopted what is fashionably called a “career portfolio”: so while life coaching is now my main activity, I still consult for fashion and luxury companies, on all things marketing relating, including branding, events and content.
“You are the best parent in the world” is the biggest compliment I’ve ever received, and that from both my daughters. Raising these two lovely, caring, fun, smart, generous, beautiful girls is by far the achievement I am most proud of, and which makes me truly, deeply happy, because that is for me love in its purest form.