petite anglaise

about petite anglaise

My name is Catherine Sanderson.

And to the left is an uncharacteristically flattering photo taken by a professional photographer.

I dreamed about living in Paris from the moment my very first French lesson began at the age of eleven.

I’m the wrong side of forty now, and Paris has been my home since 1995.

I set up this blog in July 2004.

My first book, a memoir based on events covered in the blog, was published in several languages in 2008.

My second book, a novel – ‘French Kissing’ – was published in the UK in August 2009.

petite anglaise came into existence on a whim one day, after reading the guardian’s guide to weblogs and becoming engrossed in the adventures of Belle de Jour. A matter of minutes later, I created a site of my own using blogger. I came across the union jack eye image I used as my avatar quite by accident, but it summed up my perspective nicely: a Brit’s-eye view of life in Paris.

anglaise means, quite simply, English female, and petite means little. French people tend to refer to all English females, regardless of age or size, as petites anglaises so it seemed like the obvious choice for my nom de souris.

petite anglaise started out mainly as light hearted commentaries on aspects of life in France with some anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of raising a bilingual toddler thrown in. It evolved over time, becoming more personal, touching on adoption, the breakdown of my relationship with Tadpole’s father after “meeting” a man in my comments box, and our subsequent separation.

In April 2006, I got the sack from my secretarial job when my employer was alerted to the existence of this site and objected to the scant references I’d made to my workplace. I went offline for a month and had a bit of a meltdown, but also consulted with lawyers and resolved to take my ex-employer to a tribunal for unfair dismissal. I decided to give a single interview about what had happened to a fellow Paris blogger, Colin Randall, who  happened to be the Paris Bureau Chief for the Daily Telegraph (it’s amazing the contacts you end up making through a lowly blog…)

My life became surreal for a couple of months after that. My story went global, including a stint on the front page of which caused my blog to crash for a while, and I found myself being interviewed for television and radio. I had to say goodbye (albeit reluctantly) to my anonymity at this point, although I managed to protect the identity of my daughter and her father.

Once the dust settled, several publishers manifested interest in my blog and my story, a bidding war ensued, and I was able to concentrate on writing full-time for three years, after signing a two book deal with Penguin in the UK.

It didn’t really pan out, to be honest, in the sense that I’d have had to sell an awful lot of books for the publisher to recoup their investment. I think at the time, a lot of publishers thought popular blogs would translate to big book sales, and it rarely proved to be the case…  But I didn’t do too badly for myself, all things considered, and I’m proud of what I achieved.

I’ve received a ton of emails over the years from readers who enjoyed both petite and French Kissing, from Iceland to Lithuania, and I’m thankful for every single one (and almost always reply!)

I decided to stop updating this blog shortly after the birth of my second child, in November 2009.  I went back to working as a bilingual PA in 2011.  There were some interesting clauses in my contract, to prevent me ever writing about my work in the future!

Currently I don’t have the time or inclination to write, but i think one day that will change, so watch this space…

You can find more – extremely random – info about me on my 37 things page or on my Q&A page.

You can email me here.

Photo © Laurent Attias

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