My friends and family all say I look extremely happy in my pictures in France, which may be what attracted my first French “date,” whom I’ll just refer to as “B.”
Here’s a little cultural 101 on dating in France. As mentioned in a prior blog, a good guy will get to know you before taking you on a date – he’ll talk to you at a party, school, work, etc. If he meets you in public, he’ll ask you to go for a walk (in public – nothing creepy). After talking awhile, if it’s going well, he’ll invite you for a coffee or drink. You can do this as often as necessary to be sure that you’re interested in each other, but once you KISS, it’s assumed you’re exclusive and he’s your boyfriend.
Now, this seems rather serious WAY too early to an American, but it’s really not. If the kiss isn’t that good or the rest of the evening isn’t that good or whatever, he won’t contact you again (or you ignore him) and “poof” no more boyfriend. I’m told that, in the early days, a Frenchman will contact you daily and, if he doesn’t, it’s generally safe to assume you’re no longer dating. The French also don’t really “date” per se and, while I’ve had a couple of guys talk to me or want to “go on a walk,” I’m not really sold on the idea that this is how you meet nice French men. It seems that the most common way to meet one is through your social group, which can be a challenge if you just moved here!
Fortunately, dating is not a big priority for me at the moment. With working 10-12 hour days and some weekends (the 35 hour work week in France is a myth – sorry to burst your bubble), trying to learn the language, having a bank account and still no pin for my check card, needing to find a permanent unfurnished apartment . . . I have enough to keep me occupied!
Even though “B” is not the right guy for me, I still had fun learning what “dating” a Frenchman can be like. As I’ve been told, and now learned for myself, a nice French man will go out of his way to do thoughtful things, like show you the small side street with shell art.
And afterwards, he’ll go back to the Vendée Globe village with you and stand in line so you can get the poster you’ve decided you REALLY want, after telling you that he hates standing in queues. But first, he’ll show you how clever he is by taking you to the other village entrance, so you don’t have to queue just to enter!
If you want to go shopping, it’s no problem – he’ll show you the best stores & the colorful farmers’ market. When you say the city is beautiful, he’ll tell you that you’re even MORE jolie. When you say it’s a perfect day, he’ll tell you, “Oui, parce you are parfait” (Yes, because you are perfect). The French reputation for being romantic is well-deserved!
It was a fun way to end the weekend, but not the right relationship for various reasons. I did enjoy stretching the limits of my French though since I can speak more French than he could English (scary thought). It also made me realize that I know more than I acknowledge and, as long as people speak slowly, I can understand quite a bit now.
Assuming that the change in the political situation in the US (or a similar anti-immigrant change in France) doesn’t end my time here, I think I can get used to this!
Since I have almost as many readers/views in France as the US now, feel free to correct me if you believe that I’ve misrepresented the culture. Having only lived here a total of four months now, I’m certainly still learning! Usually when I make generalizations about the culture, it is because I asked a French person (or two or three) about something that happened and they told me it is normal or common for the culture, but I have had them contradict each other too.