Dating a French Man
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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
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
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.
In 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?
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.
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
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.
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).
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?
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?
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:)
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.
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!
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.
A FrenchFriends.info exclusif by Tanja Bulatovic