Finding Love in Paris: Snagging a Frenchman Is Easier Than You Think

The HIP Paris Blog

Feb 2013

Parisian women are so sexy and elegant. There’s no way an American girl could compete, right?

Wrong.

There are, of course, as many ways to snag a Frenchman as there are French men, but in my humble experience and observation, there are elements a girl should keep in mind as she searches for her Prince Charmant.

First and foremost, be yourself. I know, I know, I sound like your mom. But she isn’t totally off base here. It’s important to remember that you have something all those elegant, well-heeled Parisiennes don’t: you’re American.

You just might come from someplace exotic like Miami or Los Angeles or – that holy grail of all cities in the Parisian mind – New York. And even if you don’t, you still have the halo of something fresh and new about you, which can be just as seductive as a pout or an arched eyebrow.

Second, we aren’t French and really shouldn’t try to be. For a Monsieur, Mademoiselles are a dime a dozen. They’re at school or work or on the metro. Depending on what has brought us Americaines to France, we may be gone in a few weeks or even a few hours. The opportunity to get to know us, and to test the accuracy of a few mythical stereotypes (Does she know how to find France on a map? Can she eat steak that isn’t as tough as shoe leather?) is irresistible. And a man, is a man, is a man. If there’s one thing that piques his interest, it’s knowing that time is limited.

Third, we say “Why not?” My now-husband loves to tell stories about all the tiny out of the way places he took me for weekends when we were first dating. Years later and he’s still astonished that I was willing to say, “Hey, why not, let’s give it a try!” Apparently, this was not his experience with French women, who would not have considered the train-bus-car trip to the “spa” in the middle of nowhere a romantic “adventure”. We tend to be more positive (and naïve) as a group; therefore, we’re more optimistic and less difficult to please than our Gallic sisters.

Fourth, a list wouldn’t be a list without a caveat. Be optimistic and open to new experiences, but do not be afraid to disagree with him. If there’s one thing a Frenchman worth keeping can’t respect (apart from “OMG, OMG the Eiffel Tower! A Baguette!!!” – that does need to come to a stop. I’m forbidding you from saying OMG right now), it’s a woman who doesn’t have her own mind and opinions.

If you don’t like the wine, say so. If you don’t feel like eating foie gras, say “no thank you,” politely and without disdain. Bad manners never got anyone anywhere, but there’s nothing enticing about pushovers either. Speak your mind fairly and you’ll earn the respect of even the toughest French rogue.

Just remember, you are your best asset. Be who you are and do what you feel like doing, and chances are your enthusiasm and confidence will make you completely irresistible. The advice on finding love in Paris is the same as finding love anywhere else. No need to feel intimidated. You aren’t in direct competition with the Parisiennes. You’ve got something different to offer, so go for it!

 

Bordeaux: A Gastronomical City as Great as Paris – Just Ask My Father!

for Inspirelle Magazine, April 2016

 
bordeaux cuisine
Pont de Pierre in Bordeaux © Leonid Andronov/123RF

In 2008, my father came for the first time to visit Paris for little over a week and for four days in Bordeaux, with my then-boyfriend (now husband’s) family. Prior to his arrival, I reminded him multiple times to prepare himself. My in-laws were very excited, and anxious to make him feel welcome. My father is a five-star general level foodie, and Paris was already a big deal. But I knew that wasn’t where the danger lay. It was in Bordeaux.

Just before lunch on the second day, my father excused himself from my father-in-law and ran into the kitchen to find me. He had a glass of the anise-flavored aperitif, pastisin his hand. It had been given to him by my father-in-law, in spite of the fact that he still had not completely recovered from the six different wines served with dinner the night before.

“You have to drink this,” he whispered to me. “I can’t drink anymore!”

“Sorry,” I said. “I can’t stand pastis, and I told you these people are professionals.”

“That’s just the warm-up,” my husband added, gesturing to the mantle in the dining room where my father-in-law had lined up a battalion of wines and rums.

I’d never seen my father tear up out of fear before.

The following evening, after having taken an afternoon trip for oysters in the seaside village of Cap Ferret, my father refused to eat dinner. We tried to cajole him, with no success. I’m not sure what did him in. Maybe the confit de canard, roasted duck with its sinfully crunchy, crisp skin. It could have been one of the four sausages or the two homemade patés we had as appetizers. I imagine the foie gras had an impact. Or the Sauternes we drank with the creamy, salty Roquefort cheese. He did get a little too excited with the traditional cassoulet the first afternoon. The slow-cooked stew of salt pork, duck, beans and vegetables is enough to make you want to go out into the forest and fell some trees. Or just snuggle under the covers on a cold, rainy day.

Trying to give him some sustenance that night, my mother-in-law whipped up her light version of garbure soup, going heavy on the root vegetables and broth, light on the ham. But nothing doing. The man could not take another bite. He ate nothing else for the duration of his stay. Even after we’d returned to Paris two days before his flight home.

My father still tells that story with great fondness. He admits being concerned that he was going to have that very French malady, a “crise de foie”. But the thing that impressed him the most was how he was welcomed. The experience was emblematic of Bordeaux and its region, Aquitaine in southwestern France.

You come, following a long journey, to a place you have never been before. Preparations have been made for your visit long in advance – ducks have been fattened, grapes made into wine.

A French family opens its doors to you, and begins to feed you. They feed you and feed you and feed you. When you can’t eat anymore, they are happy to show you their city and the region.

They take you to the ocean, or to the mountains – both are nearby. They do their best to speak your language, and when communication gets difficult, another bottle is opened, and the conversation starts flowing again.

My father enjoyed his time in Paris. He took lots of photos and enjoyed seeing the city. But when he tells people about going to France, he talks to them about his trips to Bordeaux. And he did cry again during his second visit – but that had more to do with walking his daughter down the aisle than anything else.