North London's Cultural Guide

Je Suis “Frentishtowner”: Isa de Morlhon, full-time mum

'You don’t know how long life will be. I lost a good friend a few years ago and it’s a constant reminder to make the most of the time I have here'

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‘I love the community spirit: we had a fabulous Christmas Lunch with all the residents of Ryland Road.’

Isa de Morlhon grew up in Rueil-Malmaison in the suburbs of Paris. She moved to London in 2005 with her partner Bertrand as they wanted to experience “a different life” for a couple of years. They’ve been living here ever since, and settled in Kentish Town last spring. She works in marketing and communications, and is passionate about social entrepreneurship – but these days mostly enjoys being a full-time mum.

When are you happiest?
On Saturday mornings sitting under the sun just outside the Fields Beneath with a cappuccino and a pain au chocolat.

How do north Londoners differ from Parisians?
The main difference I would say is the open mindedness of people here. North London is very diverse and I’ve always felt welcome and included despite not being originally from here. I’d think that coming from abroad, it would be harder initially to feel at home in Paris – although I haven’t experienced this directly.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
I love the familiar smell of the roast chicken when you step into Phoenicia Food Hall.


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What is your greatest life achievement?
My two daughters make me very proud. It’s the hardest job I’ve had so far but – thankfully – also a lot of fun and happiness.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
You don’t know how long life will be. I lost a good friend a few years ago and it’s a constant reminder to make the most of the time I have here.

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Isa is tempted by the goodies at Fields Beneath
What is your earliest memory here?
A walk around Parliament Hill – I couldn’t believe I was still in London. I love going there, it’s different every time and with every season. Such a gift to have this wonderful green space ten minutes away.

What makes you unhappy?
The number of rainy days this side of the Channel; although I have to admit there are probably as many of them in Paris.

What do you all think would improve the area for “Frentishtowners”?
It would be great to be able to buy French newspapers and magazines easily, to be able to watch more French football games at the pub, and to see some French films at the cinema which I understand might come to the area. But I wouldn’t want to actually turn Kentish Town into ‘Frentish Town’. Although, having a boulangerie just around the corner where I could fetch my daily baguette would be nice.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Mixing up French and English in conversations – it is plain wrong. I’ve been living in London for a while now and I have to admit that I sometimes struggle to find the appropriate French word, believe it or not.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I’m a big fan of the veal meatballs and prosciutto pizza at Pizza East. With the lettuce and avocado salad as a side I could have it for lunch every day.

Where do you hang out?
My local favourites are the Fields Beneath, The Grafton, Pizza East, Chicken Shop, Dirty Burger and Tapping the Admiral. I also love staying at home with friends, and streetfood and beer from the Camden Brewery. But we’ve been here for less than a year and still have a lot to discover.

Who or what do you hate and why?
I’m quite impatient and hate waiting for people, food or trains. Despite being French I’m very rarely late.

What’s been your best experience here?
I love the community spirit: we had a fabulous Christmas Lunch at the Grafton with all the residents of Ryland Road. It makes such a difference to know your neighbours – now there isn’t a single time when I leave the house and don’t meet someone I know.

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Isa with her two girls
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My French accent (not that it’s my appearance but you get the idea). I never got rid of it – and never will. I’m very pleased that the girls are likely to speak English without the same accent.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
You French people are so arrogant. It is not true of everyone in France – and I hate being categorized because of where I am from.

Tell us a secret.
I would love to be more involved locally and possibly start a business in the area.

What has your career taught you?
For a while I thought you had to get it right all the time to be successful. You really don’t.

What is your favourite dish and why?
Butter and sage ravioli – so simple and so awesomely delicious. I learnt to make it in Tuscany and with fresh ingredients it is incredibly tasty.

What did you do today?
At the moment I’m doing a lot of kids’ stuff with the girls – there’s so much around here so we don’t have far to go. Today we went to the Kentish Town City Farm to see how much the nine new piglets had grown, and baked some crêpes for tea.

Could the Kentishtowner exist in Paris?
Definitely. Paris has got very many wonderful places to discover and you could write about it every single day of the year and keep finding new things to talk about.

Describe yourself as an animal.
A frog. Bien sûr.

Want to nominate someone? Email any suggestions for this column to info@kentishtowner.co.uk

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