Dating a French Man

French man and woman in the Paris subway

If you haven’t noticed a kind of abnormal obsession about French people you’ve lived under a rock. About the men as well as the women being - how can I say,  somewhat  holier than thou, sexier, better lovers, well cultured, better dressed, cooler, whatever?

I’m not sure where all the excitement stems from but maybe, just maybe there’s a  grain of truth here somewhere.   And even though I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who’s lived in France for the past 3 years - and also from the point of view of being married to one of these fascinating creatures, I promise I won’t be too biased, ok?

Often stereotyped in what the French man is supposed to be like, there are a  number of myths I’d like to examine under Le miscrosope de l’Amour.

Myth number 1: All French men are hot

True, but only when they’re driving (hot-headed) - statistics for traffic accidents in France are off the scales, staggering. But let’s get back on track here. To prove my  point, we need to look at some of the French idols, movie stars etc.

Serge Gainsbourg

Let’s start with Serge Gainsbourg - an alcoholic, chain-smoking singer - who by his own admission was not exactly an oil painting. He habitually made fun of his much  prized, exaggerated features, his nose, his ears, referring to the thing that balanced  on top of his neck as a ‘cabbage head’.

What’s  more,   the   irreverent   troublemaker   spoke   openly   about  his addictions, burnt cash on television programmes and thought nothing of recounting  his  sexual   adventures  with  underage  girls.  Ok,  so  let’s summarize  our  case  study  as  being   provocative,  talented  and   yet vulnerable. The tortured artist? The good old bad-boy? Whatever it was, it was obviously  enticing.

Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte BardotSerge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin

Just ask the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. That’s right, some of the worlds top beauties lined  up in droves to be with the anti-hero. Why? Who knows?  Surely not for the cigarette- breath-smooch-fest? Au contraire, his bad boy ways, outrageous behaviour and self-deprecation probably helped. Women love funny guys.

Gerard Depardieu


What about Gerard Depardieu? Rough around the edges, like a cheap Cotes du Rhone – he nonetheless managed to seduce the stunning Carole Bouquet and Karine Silla to name a few.


Daniel Auteuil and Emmanueal Béart


Then there’s Daniel Auteuil and the 10-year relationship he had with Emmanuelle  Béart? How did he do it? (Ok, he’s also a movies star but apart from that there’s nothing to write home to mom about).


Romain Duris

Kind of kooky, with wild unkempt hair, and a three-day growth, the unlikely  screen idol, Romain Duris is the latest hot actor from France, with Time magazine aptly calling him an ‘accidental heartthrob’. Accidental because of his looks. Heartthrob because of his acting ability. The list goes on, but you get my point right? These men are far from being the prize catch in the looks department, so what is it about  them  that makes women swoon? We’ll get to that a little later.


Myth Number 2: French men know how to dress

French Fashion on the Runway Ok, there are basically 3 different types of French dude. In my opinion, the interesting ones, like the artists etc dress in a pretty grungy way, and look like they  picked up the first thing they found on the floor that morning - or got dressed in the dark (more likely). A lot of the appeal lies in the fact that it gives them that care-free (I don’t have to try that hard) look. Whatever, it works.

Then there are those that dress ‘nice and neat’; they look like they’re trying to emulate their parents or something. Flat, conservative and blah. Thirdly, you get the label junkies and that’s just plain boring anyway. So I have  to  be  honest  and  say   that  as  far  as  innovation,  style  and individuality’s concerned, go to London.


Myth number 3: They have a good sense of smell

French Aftershave

I read somewhere that in terms of perfume, the French are skilled like no other in determining what is what.  What are they, dogs??? One thing’s for sure…as far as aftershave, the men (and women) either do too much or  nothing at all. Must admit, I prefer the latter. Most artificial perfume/aftershave is a chemical nightmare, but that’s another article.

Myth number 4: They can all cook

French man cooking a meal

I’ve met men here who basically exist on a diet of BBQ meat and fries. With one of my husband’s friends, you’d be lucky to get peanuts if you pop in for an apéritif.  They have no idea.  Why? Mom did the cooking and just because most of their mom’s are sensational cooks doesn’t mean they are. Off course, there are always exceptions to this rule (but you need to be lucky to find one).


Myth number 5: They strictly inspect your weight and expect you to be thin.

Hmmm…not sure about this one. But to better understand the French male, one must look at the French woman. People in France don’t get hung up on age. How refreshing is that?  Everywhere else in the world there’s this thing about looking not a day over 30 - not so in France, where older women are admired and thought of as sexy.

French woman looking at her face on the mirrorIn France you’ll frequently spot a woman in her 60’s and 70’s showing off her svelte figure in jeans, miniskirts and high heels. And they don’t look tarty, they look proud. To be fair, European women are no strangers to plastic surgery and botox, but they are not as obsessed about eradicating their wrinkles as some of their sisters in other parts of the world - preferring to let nature take its course and to concentrate instead on preserving their silhouettes via exercise and a sensible diet. The women are comfortable in their bodies, which automatically makes them  sexier. It’s not what you wear it’s how you wear it. They’re confident and know how to carry themselves and unlike some other cultures, there’s more of a relaxed feel about their hair and makeup.

Bottom line - what they don’t have in beauty, they make up for in charisma, charm and chic. You see they don’t have to, want to or need to try that hard (oops, are we getting the similarity here)?

Now that  we’ve  done  some  deconstructing,  let’s  see  what  else lies beneath the surface of the elusive French male?

Political Incorrectness

They smoke, they ogle, they wolf-whistle and dare to cross some lines of what is considered polite and correct public behavior.  A lot of people and women who are not  of the same culture seem to take offense at this forthrightness. French women don’t take offense.  They either expect or appreciate the attention or they just don’t care.

Beaucoup de Charme

French men seem to have plenty of this stuff on tap. It’s bred into their DNA. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone can learn this stuff.    You’ve either got it or you haven’t. Sorry.

French courting, giving a bouquet of flowers

Une peu de Romance?

Mais oui, bien sure!!! I’m surprised they don’t pop out at birth bearing gifts -  Flowers, champagne and candles along with a manual on foot reflexology.

Give me an Alpha Man (without the steroids)

We like them because they’re not the macho, pumped-up-with-weights type, rather, the macho type who’s not afraid of women.

La joie de vivre

Happy French Couple

They’ve got it. The joy of life or ‘being in the moment’, whatever you call it doesn’t matter, but yeah, I’m afraid the French pretty much patented that formula. They honestly don’t care about what happened 5 minutes ago or what’s going to happen tomorrow. For them, it’s the only way to be.


Relaxed Attitude

They don’t get stressed out and carried away by life’s little details the way some of us do. This one’s a great trait if you happen to be a person that does get stressed by life’s little incongruities (oh, yes, I know what I speak of).

Direct

Some may misconstrue this as being rude, but I find it refreshing. Usually the men make the first move in asking you out on a date. Takes the pressure off, don’t you think? All you have to do is say yes or no. Simple. Non?

Passionate

Well this goes hand in hand with not being afraid of girls, and knowing how to  handle them. I understand that some people are shy when it comes to anything involving the opposite sex, but it certainly helps when at least one partner is less awkward. Know what I mean?

Open

Some may say the French are bit too open, which calls into question, the stereotype of all French men having a mistress.  But listen, if this is true of French men in general, it’s generally true of all men around the world. And one thing’s for sure, if the men are doing it, the women are doing it too. Perhaps even better:)

Accent

Tick! My husband makes a lot of mistakes when he speaks English.

Once upon a time (when I was into detail) I used to correct him. I don’t do it anymore because his ‘mistakes’ sound better than the real thing.

Giving Compliment

Compliments

Bring them on, I say. And yes, women shouldn’t have to or need to be told they are beautiful, ravishing, intelligent, funny and sexy but it sure beats not being told. Let’s face it - fake compliment or not - who cares!

La fin

Generally speaking, we think the grass is always greener and we tend to over-mystify  other cultures. Fundamentally, the world is much rounder than we think and people are pretty much the same all over. You probably don’t want to hear this, but  in France, as in every other corner of the world, it really all depends on the individual homme.

Bonne Chance!

A FrenchFriends.info exclusif by Tanja Bulatovic

Comments

Revolutionary Alliance Fever

I have read, seen, and heard about numerous real-life stories of all-American beauty queen types who are happily and successfully involved with, um, shall we say, the male specimens of the great patriotic Revolutionary Alliance. It's no myth that these exceptionally fortunate women acheive them based on alot more than just their extraordinary (female) endowments and a cute coincidence of knowing French as a second language or at least being willing to start learning it. This cult within the world of dating and romance, disregarding the current political climate, puts a premium on strictly French national origin to match the heritage of the woman being American. This is so much so that one could surmise that a pure French nobleman of today who takes preference for American women automatically qualifies to marry a female descendant of, for example, one of the signers of the Declaration Of Independence, and vice versa. This, of course, gives rise to the French-American mystique that likely started upon the fact that the Marquis de Lafayette undeniably "fell in love with" America and her wartime cause for liberty even though his beloved wife was French like him, not American. Of course, this was and still is VERY appealing to many American women who consider themselves patriots at heart. To the disgust and disdain of the British, the French accent became particuliarly alluring to the ears of American patriots, no less for American men hearing a French woman's accent than for American women hearing a French man's accent. Given the great Victory at Yorktown as the most glorious manifestation, Gallic charm to Americans is its own symbol of why we have Americans dating and especially marrying French as considered the extreme of Francophilism in American culture. It's obviously contrary to the trend of French-bashing. From what I've noticed while examining the tastes of the American expatriates who live in France, American women interested in French men far outnumber American men interested in French women, and you don't have to be a historian to figure out why. The instance of French men willingly reciprocating this is nothing short of startling to people who think the French of today are "supposed to" look down on Americans. There is an award-winning American-made independent film called "Broken English" that demonstrates this in the form of a love story that takes place first in New York and later in Paris. This movie might as well be a DAR promotional tale except for the fact that the American woman in the story does not fawn over and pursue the stunningly handsome Frenchman at first until after he has wooed her to initiate the relationship himself. Surprisingly, the story lacks the realistic factor of other eligible American women competing with her or trying to compete with her for his attention and affection. Also, the movie ignores how the tremendous difficulty associated with what it takes from the American person's end to be in the position of getting married to the French person who is still a citizen of France. In real life, the French spouse is, by anyones standards, the prize, the trophy. Well, those are my insights on the subject of dating Frenchmen, and all from a patriotic American standpoint untainted by revisionism. I'm off to design my Colonial Williamsburg-style charm and wardrobe so that I may become counted among the privileged few who actually attain romance with a Frenchman!!

I find both this article and

I find both this article and the comment to be excellent reads. Thanks for sharing ladies!

Eh. I don't know. Maybe my

Eh. I don't know. Maybe my mother counts, her half of the family traces back to pre-Revolution and she has a strange attraction towards French men. She also speaks five different languages and French isn't the most exotic of them... the rest of my family are either multinational or multilingual or both. I'm kind of the runt of the group, in that I currently only have one nationality and am really fluent in only one language; but I'm also the only one to be involved with a French guy. I put up with him being a jerk because he's really cool despite all the Frenchness, and he puts up with me being a touchy difficult pain in the butt regardless of where I'm from. I'm the first American woman he's ever gone out with; he tried to date other American women when he first moved to the states, but doesn't like the American attitude and appearance at all. His general impression of American women is somewhat less than flattering. He teases me, he says he's with me because I act more French than I do American.

So, well, I don't think you can generalize a LaFayettian romantic fantasy out of the thing. My French guy likes me because of who I am, not because of some historical-fiction mystique. It's one of the things I've appreciated most when I've hung around the French expats here and when I've visited France; all the funny plaques about "this is where George Washington's great-great grandfather was born" and "this hotel is where Ben Franklin had an affair with someone's granddaughter" aside, they don't seem to care where you come from so long as you're witty, intelligent, confident, and can hold your own in a convoluted political debate after far too many bottles of wine.

florida girl in bourgogne

Tanja, where are you living? I have been over here for nearly 2 years and can only disagree with your point on the chemical nightmare cologne situation...sooo much better than b.o. Woof. Thank God summer's over! Not that that eliminates all offenders.
Although my Frenchie husband is nearly always deliciously scented. (cologne or not)

debi

Qualifications For Getting Married To A Frenchman

Now that I see an all-American has included the hint of being married to a Frenchman, how 'bout the topic of what the process of becoming eligible for that status is like? Seems like there's no shortage of American women (myself amongst them) who are completely and totally saving themselves for 100% purely French husbands. At first I thought they were all winners of the Miss Colonial Williamsburg Pageant or at least official members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), however it has come to my attention that this is just a stereotype of the kind of American women who turn out to be "good and attractive enough" for Frenchmen specifically. As a not particuliarly well-endowed woman, I've especially noticed that most American wives of Frenchman are alot prettier than me. I try not to think it's coicidence. Maybe there actually IS a certain type that's considered good-looking enough to qualify to attract a French guy regardless of how great or good-looking the guy is, or how much money he has, for that matter. However, looks are not enough to go through the process of getting qualified to actually marry one. There are civil and legal barriers that must be overcome, which renders the soon-to-be-married Yankee Doodle love interests of the French guys even luckier, with all bragging rights that they successfully attained the eligibility. Not every American person can handle the hassles of the French bureaucracy. I heard it's not for the faint-hearted. I used to think just learning the language, appreciating the culture, and being an overall friendly, well-mannered, and ladylike (as well as loving to dress nice) American charmeuse would be sufficient. I discovered from research that this it is not. From that, there's the conclusion that the French guy better be worth the hard work of getting married to him, and the American wife may probably need to go through the toil of moving to France and be willing to deal with the ramifications of living there in order to stay married to him, like it or not. Above all, I concluded that when alot (but not all) single American women who move to France do so first having marriage to Frenchmen on the agenda from the start, and mix that aspiration in with other niceties of French culture, alongside having an occupation that facilitates contact with French people in general. And for demographic reasons, American women who are romantically involved with Frenchmen for marriage while still in the States are the most fortunate of all. Many of these women are high acheivers to begin with, but mostly it's all positioning and luck, even more than physical beauty, personal monetary wealth, or how well you speak French as a second language. This is what I learned from Polly Platt's non-fiction book "Love A La Francaise" (aimed at strictly American women) and other sources from real-life stories, some of which are expat blogs. Platt's book for some reason tends to put emphasis on how wonderful the women are, and not so much on how hard it is to get through the process of becoming the legally-married American wife of a Frenchman. I had to research the expat blogs to find out the rest. It sounds very, VERY complicated.

Never Have

I'll admit that I've never dated a french guy before, but I'd love to if I get the chance. They just seem so romantic and sophisticated...unlike most of the guys I end up dating...

NKS

Hi Ellen, Thanks for the compliments... I am a french man and I am proud to be regarded as romantic and sophisticated.....THANKS. Let me tell you something, french men think the same about american women... This website is full of interest.

French Men!

I was a virgin when I met AB. It was the most "beautiful" experience I ever had. That was more than 30 years ago. I made the indiscretion of seen him again in Paris (yesterday, 7 years ago!!!) still the same beautiful guy I met. I still adore him, so suave, so romantic, so sweet, so French. I will never forget him.

They are bound to be Lovely!

Absolutely, French men are really amazing. By the way, what an analyzed post it was! Every single details of French men were discussed in short but significantly. I do agree with almost all of the points, more exactly Myths. Actually, France is a state of Art and it's men are bound to be Lovely... :)
Regards, Sarah

I have found reading this

I have found reading this information particularly helpful today after a very heated and hot headed discussion with my fiancee of 3 years. My french man in particular ticks all of the above boxes and then some with his military background adding to his stubborness and ever increaseing certainty that his opinion is above all else the correct one.

Despit this I would be hard pushed to find someone as passionate and loyal as my huband to be. As for the accent, well ladies there is nothing in our house that breaks off an argument more effectively that him finishing off a rant in french. I go weak at the knees and submit instantly. The only advise that I would give if you are head over heels for the french man that you are with is to pick your battles carefully. Many a time have I submitted to an argumment but as he tells me there is nothing as attractive as a woman who knows her mind. French women themselves can be equally as passionate and stubborn.