7 Startling Observations on Dating a Frenchman

7 Startling Observations on Dating a Frenchman

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Someday, my friends, COVID will be under control and you’ll carry out those travel plans you’ve been saving. You’ll see the ocean again. You’ll feel sand under your toes or rub lavender between your fingers or hear church bells clanging from a tower. You’ll hug your mom.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll go to France.

And when you do go to France, you might find a nice Frenchman to spend some time with. Let’s call him Jean-Pierre. It’s going to be lovely, but there are a few things you need to know. Some to look forward to, some to look out for.

Why? Because we rugged-individualist-feminist-cowgirl types are used to certain Anglo-Saxon dating rituals. Our relationships progress slowly. They involve extensive texting and define-the-relationship chats and wondering if he’s just not that into you. People play it cool, not wanting to appear over-eager.

The French love affair is a whole different animal.

To help you out, mes chères amies and I have compiled the following list of observations. Proceed with caution. But do proceed!

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There is no drawn-out courtship

If the first date goes well and there’s going to be a second one, you’re dating. You can leave a toothbrush at his place without him panicking that you’re trying to move in. Jean-Pierre is a coupler.

However, this does not mean that you’ll be 2-gether 4-ever. It just means, “until further notice, let’s do stuff.” No pressure. Enjoy.

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Frenchmen are a little old-fashioned

Quaint. Gentlemanly. It’ll make you re-evaluate your idea of feminism.

For example, in restaurants, Jean-Pierre might ask you what you want to eat, then order it for you when the waiter comes. The first time this happened to me, I started to yell, “hey buddy I can order myself like a big girl,” but then I realized that it was kind of nice to have somebody do a little work for me. Now I’m into it.

French actor Alain Delon

Voulez-vous une cigarette?

He might be a smoker. If this is a deal-breaker for you, so be it. But, you’re going to be cutting out a lot of nice guys who will make sure you’re up-wind from them and then chew gum after they puff. Your call.

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They’re romantic

Remember that time on Sex and the City when a tuxedo-clad Mikhail Baryshnikov asked Carrie to dance in front of the opera fountain and she fainted? When she came to, she said, “I’m an American. You’ve got to take it down a notch.”

This is a real danger in France. We love the idea of a romantic guy, but when the rubber meets the road, it takes some getting used to. He’ll sign off texts with je t’embrasse (I kiss you). He will honest-to-god rent a rowboat and haul your ass around a lake while you dangle your hand in the water and watch his biceps working. This blatant romanticism is a little alarming at first, but treat it like yoga – breathe, hold the pose, and let your body relax into it. Pretty soon, that Je pense à toi (I’m thinking of you) will feel as good as a well-executed downward dog.

Did you miss Yvonne Hazelton’s post on dating yourself in Paris? Click here to read.

Oui, chivalry still exists

He’ll take care of you. In restaurants, Jean-Pierre will see that you have a nice view. He’ll listen attentively when you talk about your day, or give you his jacket if you’re cold, or refill your water glass during lunch. Thing is, cowgirls, this isn’t a one-way street – you’ll need to figure out how to take care of him, too. He might need more attention than you’re used to giving, but you’ll figure it out, and the payoff is excellent. 10/10 recommend.

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He’s a gracious guest

When you’re ready to feed him, you might be worried about the whole snooty-French-cuisine thing, but don’t be. Unless he lives with his mom, he’ll have been eating breakfast standing in his kitchen, slurping coffee and dunking his buttered baguette in it. He’s ready for a nice, relaxed meal in your home.

I recommend starting with an apéro – the easiest of French meals. Just go down to the fromagerie, tell the cheese lady you’re doing a cheese plate for two, and let her set you up. Next, go to the wine shop and tell them which cheeses you’ve got, and they’ll sell you a divine matching wine. Throw in some pretty grapes and baguette slices, and you’ve got a hit. Jean-Pierre will be enchanted.

© Saeed Mhmdi/Unsplash


You’re going to have to slow down. He takes his time over meals, coffee, glasses of wine, snuggling. If you take a walk together, it’ll be more of a stroll, with pauses to stand on a bridge and appreciate the view. In the middle of meals, he’ll put down his fork and look around and just… smile.

Raised on the white Anglo-Saxon work ethic philosophy of “Places to go! People to see!”, I found this laid-back behavior unnerving. I had to stop asking what was wrong (Is the chicken okay? Did you have a stroke?) and learn that you really can just appreciate simple, small things. Who knew?

As tempting as it may be to generalize, you’ve got to be careful to learn about Jean-Pierre as a guy, not just as a Frenchman. He, like men everywhere, might be moody or charming or jealous or passionate, and it might just be him, not his Frenchness. A red flag in any language is still a red flag.

So, let’s wrap this virus up and get back to exploring our big beautiful world. Paris is waiting for you.

And so is Jean-Pierre.


  1. Love this article!!! The pandemic IS under control!!! And I went on a date with my own “Jean Pierre” yesterday. This article made me laugh so hard “did you have a stroke?” 10/10 genuine and love your writing!

  2. I recently had a fling with a Frenchman who was visiting on a work trip. I can confirm all of these things to be true. The love that these men show so quickly into the relationship is incredible. He talked about meeting my father and how they would get on so well, he genuinely cared so much that I was comfortable and happy at all times, he desperately wanted me to meet him on future work trips, and I would find him staring at me while I was doing simple tasks, I told him this was strange for me because I had never had a man stare at me like this before. This was genuinely shocking to him, he said ” but you are so beautiful, I could get lost in your eyes forever”. The way he said things such as this was not fake or ill intended, but so genuine. He was thoughtful, kind, warm, generous, passionate, and so so loving. I spent a short time with this man, but it was wonderful. I am having a hard time determining whether I fell in love or if it is just a deep infatuation. I am leaning towards love so if you need me I’ll be at the heartbreak hotel :((

    • Heartbreak hotel you and I both. I’m sorry. I pushed the Paris guy away because I didn’t want to fall deep in love even though I know I have fallen for him already. Part of me still has hope he’ll come back but no means no to the french so I doubt he would unless I make myself the fool and reach out to him. Not sure if I should hold on to my pride and continue to hurt or contact him in hopes he missed me just the same and takes me back…

      • Pride will never get you what you want. If you truly love him, tell him you were a fool. Life is too short to waste time being stubborn and prideful.

  3. I have meant two French man in my life who I much admired differently. the first from Lyon, such a gentleman and this article reflects him perfectly. The other from Pairs and holy crap were they different. The Paris guy was charming and considerate when he was not an ass. Although he told me he liked me his actions were confusing. Some days he showed his affection towards me and other days not sure if he knew who I was. When we were together he treated me like his own, cooked for me, treated me in the bedroom, and respected me to my face. He two loved the attention of other females which is why he kept me around but never his girlfriend. The Lyon guy was more conservative and selective. The first night we were together he asked me to be his girlfriend, he has only been with a hand full of females and surprised me how quickly he moved. He talked about our future together and how i would meet his family and we would make a son in two years. As an American this was taboo to me so I turned it down. After three attempts of him asking me out within months he disappeared from my life and that was a regret. He was such an amazing man to me but I couldn’t commit so quickly. Both men were different as well. They loved their family, wine, clean food and hardly ate sweets. They were dedicated to their job and their priories. Intelligent, stylish, attractive, seductive men they were. Both were so much fun in their own way and challenging at the same time. Arguing was a game to them; you had to always be sharp because they were not afraid to call you out on your mistakes.

    • Interesting. I get the idea of I would presume an attraction without procrastination. I could be misunderstanding, but from a previous article I read, cultures may differ but a man is still a man. If the Paris man is presumably an ass then so is such and the Lyon man sounds sort of controlling. How can you tell the difference between a French man who cares vs control or is there no real difference? From my american perspective, if a man cares or really adores there would be a reflect action of more respect than disrespect, no? Whereas a man who controls would be more commanding, disrespectful, yet charming all in one?

  4. I looooved reading your post. Definitely gave me some great insight.

    I didn’t think I was dating a French guy. We met during travels when we was in the US years ago. And I visited him a few years ago. We have been in touch sparingly for the past 5 or 6 years. Now am going to the French Riveria at the end of summer for a month and when I told him the following weekend he told me he put in an offer on a flat in a city outside of Monaco for “us”. Whoa!! That did I miss???

  5. I really enjoyed reading your article and cant’ stop myself from smiling.and laughing coz its.so true..and it gave me more information…thank you so much .Merci ..

  6. What a nice informative blog post, thank you ❤️ I’m currently a 3rd year student in South Africa, I’m hoping to travel after I finish my degree. Hopefully to France and/or Quebec one day. I’m looking forward to experiencing French culture and French men

  7. I was married to a Frenchman for 41 years before he passed away. It was always a learning curve. He was romantic , kind sometimes taciturn and critical. I discovered that arguing is the French national sport and they revel in it. The French consider arguing a form of communication. We met at a dance and continued dancing for the rest of our married lives. Sometimes we danced in the kitchen and at the end we danced at his memory care home. I have wonderful memories of trips to Paris and France to visit his family and friends. I can’t wait to go back and relive some of those memories on my own.

  8. Good evening:
    I was just wondering if this site had been updated so the information about dating is recent,
    Also I’d like to know if I will find single or divorced French men that speaks English or Spanish,
    Thank you.

  9. Brilliant assessment, which even I as a man and non-French can appreciate, having spent many years in Paris and working for a French company, where etiquette and entertainment are part of the working life. These days, owning a property in Bretagne, we get more of the country gentlemen style, but still true to form!


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