Inspiring women: chopsticks or fork? Catherine Soulas-Baron will help you choose

Inspiring women: Collaborative partnership with

MyFrenchLife™ - Inspiring women - header - - MidetPlus

Catherine Soulas-Baron was awarded the 2014 Lauréate des Trophées des Français de l’étranger for her contribution to France’s influence abroad. Catherine won the Art of Living category –Awarded to French nationals living overseas – for her work in China. 

Catherine, who is in her fifties and born in Oran, Algeria, to farm-working French-Algerian parents says: “Our country is still a strong role model in terms of sophistication and elegance. And nowadays the Chinese population are, more than ever before, eager to be aware of common courtesies so they can gain a better understanding and know what to expect when it comes to the intercultural exchanges brought about by globalisation.”

Cliquez ici pour lire cet article en français.

Catherine Soulas-Baron: a new lease on lifeCatherine Soulas-Baron - Inspiring Women - Plane - MyFrenchLife™ - - MidetPlus

The former legal director left Bordeaux and her job in 2005 to follow her husband to Hong Kong where he had been appointed to work. Catherine decided that once her two daughters had left the family home to continue with higher education in Europe, she would face up to the void their departure created and look to add a new lease on life to her career.

The entire world had its eyes fixed on China as it prepared for the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games. Concerned about how its population would be perceived, China launched a national campaign to teach the Chinese how to ‘behave properly’. It advised against such things as spitting in the street or elbowing past people on public transport.


Catherine Soulas-Baron decided to start her own school of savoir-vivre, becoming the ‘Nadine de Rothschild’ of the Chinese. Ever the perfectionist, she makes the most of every opportunity to study Chinese etiquette in order to gain a better understanding of the people who attend her classes.

She also plans to take a course at the Protocol School of Washington in the United States – a college of etiquette and behaviour protocol – so she can teach students good manners from both Anglo-Saxon and French culture.

Catherine Soulas-Baron - Inspiring Women - Setting - MyFrenchLife™ - - MidetPlus

Her school in Hong Kong offers savoir-vivre workshops several times a month. Students can, for example, master the correct use of any array of glassware and cutlery placed on a table in front of them. They also learn general manners such as how, in the presence of an English person, it is considered impolite to place your hands on the table (In England, it is more appropriate to rest your hands on your knees, which is actually contrary to the French sensibility). Catherine Soulas-Baron supports the idea that the more we share our culture with others, the more we are able to protect it.

Learn French etiquette

In France another contributor to the Mid&Plus site, Alix Baboin-Jaubert, has created a website all about the French etiquette. You can sign up (or even sign up your husband, one of your teenagers, or better yet, one of your colleagues) to a variety of workshops. They cover topics such as the art of appearance, dress code, the art of conversing, networking and entertaining, French living, children’s education or even manners in the workplace.

What do you think of French manners? Do you think cities should have to change their manners to suit visitors? Join the debate in the comments!

Inspiring women: collaborative partnership with

[This article was originally written in French by Author: Marie-Hèlène Cossé]

Here at MyFrenchLife™ we have pleasure in announcing our partnership with French site to produce this new series: ‘Inspiring women’. This article first appeared on Mid&Plus and we have translated it into English for your added pleasure.

Mid&Plus takes a decidedly positive view of women in the world & produces wonderful portraits of inspiring women.

This collaboration enables you to read this series of inspiring life stories in French on and in English here on MyFrenchLife™ – MaVieFrançaise® magazine

We recommend you visit for further inspiration and we hope that you enjoy it.

Marie-Hélène Cossé – founder of MidetPlus
Claire Basler – artist
Zahia Ziouani – conductor
Alix Baboin-Jaubert – pilgrim
Tina Kieffer – journalist
Hannelore Cayre  author+
Virginie Taittinger – femme champenoise
Zeina Egho – a face of exile



Image credits:
1. Feature Image, via wikipedia.
2. Plane, via pixabay.
3. Table setting, via wikipedia.
Translated by Katie Wilkinson.

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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