Feb 2, 2016

Under Where?: Le Coup de Pied au Cul


You know those underwear you have that are for laundry days, most definitely not for special dates, and you just hope you don't get in a car accident and have to be examined in a medical emergency? French women don't have those. But guess what? You know those regular underwear you have -- comfortable, cotton, cute, in great shape -- that you wear pretty much on a normal basis? French women don't have many of those either.

French women tend to buy their underwear and bras as a set, to look pretty together, which had to be explained to me by a friend here in Paris whose professional specialty is lingerie. She says she has to introduce the concept of matching, everyday bra-and-panty sets to most Americans, and that I'm not alone in that.

My last-tier underwear just gave up the ghost, and I figured I'd go splurge on some new pairs. But honestly, after scouring Paris' lingerie stores -- both high-end and casual, all I can find are the most frou-frou, uncomfortable-looking, lacy, nylon things. It makes me feel like such a foreigner.


Even chains like Princesse Tam-Tam and Etam are just full of the overly frou-frou, as far as I'm concerned.

photo from Princesse Tam-Tam

photo from Tati
My friend, the lingerie maven, tells me that it is, indeed, possible to find all-cotton ladies' underwear in France if you know where to look. On the very high end, a few select special designers make them, including her favorites Germain des Près, lovely but 17€ per pair, and Ma P'tite Culotte, some of which are simple, most of which are fussy and complicated, and all of which are pricy. Call me crazy, but I just don't need to pay 20€ for a pair of underwear -- on sale from 39€. It's just underwear, for Pete's sake. And that folks is how I know, even after five years here, that I'm American.

photo from Ma P'tite Culotte

photo from Germain des Pres

Luckily, for me, there is a work-around: I'm so small, I simply go to the basic stores -- like Monoprix (a high-end grocery store with a decent department for clothes) and raid the kids' section. There, I'm able to find simple, 100% cotton underwear, at 8€ for three pair.

The other option is to go to the big, ultra-cheap clothing chains like Tati or especially C&A. Even casual places like H&M or Zara aren't low-end enough to sell cotton underwear, apparently. On the website, C&A has plenty of comfy cotton pairs! It's a miracle! And it will be even more of a miracle if a) I can actually find them in the store and b) the smallest size is small enough for me.
photo from C&A 
So, I'm not sure what the other, non-child-sized French women are doing, but I suppose they're either shopping at C&A or, mostly, wearing fancy, lacy, nylon underwear and paying a lot more for it. All I can say is that it may be pretty, it may be sexy, it may be very French, but there's no way it's as practical or comfortable under a pair of jeans as the cotton things (that's things, not thongs) that I've got on.

THE CHEESE: Le Coup de Pied au Cul

Le Coup de Pied au Cul translates as "A Kick in the Butt" or "A Kick in the Ass", but in truth there's not much kick to it. It's a creamy, fairly simple thermized (heated, that is, but not quite pasteurized) cows' milk cheese. Made in Calvados, in the Basse-Normandie region, just outside Pont L’Evêque, it's made by the Maître Pennec fromagerie, the same folks who bring you Le Gratte-Cul ("The Ass-Scratcher"), and Bonne Fête Papa ("Happy Father's Day") -- and whose creative names are a real godsend to my blog, frankly.

While many of the original cheeses from Maître Pennec are newly created, this is their original original cheese, first created in 1950. It's based on a Pont L’Evêque, with a hint of Reblochon thrown in for good measure. That makes it almost a classic-tasting cheese, as newfangled cheeses go. The mild stink comes from the washed, salted crust while it's cellar-aged for around 10 weeks, which can range from the white (younger and less stinky) to tannish-orange (older and gamier).
The texture is pleasantly classic -- silky and oozy on the outer edges, creamy in the middle, with a substantial, white-bloom crust.


The price of French culottes ("underwear", derived, of course from the word "cul" meaning "butt") is a real kick in the pants, but the real reason I choose this cheese is that, since I'm talking about underwear, I figured a cheese whose name contains a butt reference was pretty much par for the course (for the cheese course, that is). Le Coup de Pied au Cul, which means "A Kick in the Ass", is also quite silky, much like French undies.


  1. Great post; very funny. However, having lived in the U.S. I had the impression that you guys could do quite froufrou, lacy and fancy as well when it comes to underwear and quite pricy too or maybe not as pricy as here...? (e.g. Victoria's Secret, Target...).

    1. Yes -- of course we can do frou frou fancy in the States, and perhaps I exaggerate a little for effect (!), but I'd say overall that we Americans see lacy/fancy/frou frou underwear as something we buy and wear for "special" occasions. Most people just buy simple cotton stuff for the regular day-to-day. Or maybe I'm just less fancy than other Americans. But I don't actually think so. I think it really is the norm there.

  2. Just one word : Sloggi

    (or else : petit bateau, size 16 or 18 years)
    (I know, I know, more than one word …)


    1. But Petit Bateau is also rather overpriced for cotton underwear. I'm telling you: Monoprix or C&A work great! But I'll look up Sloggi... Merci, Fr!

  3. Thanks for introducing me to "Germaine des prés" !
    I just ADORE their culottes's colorways ( slightly less enthralled by their price, though …)
    Fr. (again)

  4. j'adore votre blog même si mon anglais est mauvais comme tous les frenchies ....quel humour parler culotte et coup de pied au cul ....bravo j'ai découvert votre existence grâce à RTL ...bonne dégustation...

    1. Il y a plein de Frenchies qui parlent tres bien anglais -- peut-etre vous aussi (trop modeste?). Et je me trompe tout le temps en francais. Pas de souci! Si on peux communiquer, c'est ca l'important. Heureux que vous m'avez trouvé.

  5. This is hilarious: I own that Chantal Thomass set from your photo! TMI? I set aside money for undergarment shopping for every Paris trip. But I tend to wear my purchases on a more or less daily basis.

    1. Not TMI. Perfect. I imagine that that's what I will do -- buy expensive matching lingerie and actually wear it -- when I am grown up and sophisticated. But that ship may have already sailed. Perhaps in my next life? Kudos to you, though! You're my new idol.

    2. No, no. YOU are MY idol! Adore your blog.
      What nobody tells you when you buy matching lingerie is that you need more than one set of matching bottoms to get the full ROI from the tops. And then what happens when either top or bottoms wear out? It's so much easier and more economical to go with the comfy cottons!

  6. so will you also do a blog about soutiens-gorge? (and how wierd is that plural??) My pet peeve here in the USofA currently is that it's so difficult to find unpadded ones...

    1. http://www.ayearinfromage.com/2014/02/disasters-in-lingerie-bouton-de-culotte.html#.Vz84R5F9670

  7. I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business. Legging


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