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"Bulgaria has changed right before my eyes," says Yves Ditte, owner of French bakeries in the country

Photo: private library

When walking around Plovdiv, you will probably be impressed by the facade of a neat bakery and be attracted by appetizing aromas. This is the bakery of Tanya and Yves. The Bulgarian-French family chose Plovdiv as their home and 12 years ago they created their own French bakery, which became their inspiration and way of life.

Yves Ditte says that before he came here, he knew almost nothing about Bulgaria. "Like most French people, I associated Bulgaria with yogurt and Sylvie Vartan. That is all! For me, Bulgaria was just a country in Eastern Europe and in my imagination it was somewhere in the North, somewhere in Siberia," Yves says. The French does not hide a curious fact from his biography. He is a nephew of Alfred Ditte - a close friend of French General Charles de Gaulle.

He remembers that when he first arrived in Bulgaria the year was 2000, or 7 years before Bulgaria’s accession to the EU. Back then everything looked unusual and old-fashioned to him.

"The country has changed right before my eyes, as I knew it before and after it joined the EU. I have witnessed the changes in terms of infrastructure, highways, changes in the cities, public parks, etc. The moment it joined the European Union, Bulgaria attracted attention, followed by investments that supported its development. I will give you another example. When I first came here 20 years ago, young girls wore impossibly short skirts and horrible make-up - something that is unacceptable to us in France. Now, despite the fact they do not have much money, most Bulgarians are dressed in European style with a lot of taste. And that's nice to me. Also, your cities are clean, unlike the French ones,” he says.

These days, Yves and Tanya enjoy having a successful business. They have 3 French bakeries in Plovdiv and Haskovo.

Yves and Tanya have a total of 4 children from their two previous marriages, as well as one from their current marriage. Three of their children live in Bulgaria and have Bulgarian citizenship. But there is one thing that prevents the French from feeling 100% Bulgarian - the language!

"It is very difficult! This is a terribly difficult language! At first glance, it seems easier than French, because your spelling overlaps with phonetics and you write what you hear, while in French we have 4 different ways to write the sound ‘o’, etc. However, Bulgarian grammar is impossible, as well as the pronunciation.” Yves says, but is quick to add that he feels Bulgaria is his homeland now and he would never return back to France.

Photos: courtesy of Yves Ditte

English version: Alexander Markov

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