Two weeks had rolled by since my first date with a handsome Frenchman who had given me a hair-raising ride home through Paris in his Porsche. And who I had since dubbed, thanks to his towering frame, “Mr Big”. Enough time for me to experience other much less interesting dates, that left me wondering: what's all the bloody hype about French men?
"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Yeah, right. I reckon that's kind of an outdated, sexist thing to say, because it implies they're only focused on one thing in a woman. Well, maybe that's true of some men.
You find yourself on a dud date. The guy who's just turned up to meet you looks less like his virtual photos on OK Cupid and more like No thanks, Stupid. You're contemplating drinking more than you should in a desperate attempt to find him as spunky as he damn well should be. Here's my daring solution to get out, fast.
When all you feel like is a big warm hug on a chilly autumn day, or to combat seediness after too many glasses of Sancerre the previous evening, this quiche is one to which your tastebuds and soul will say merci beaucoup. And can I please have another slice?
Not all Frenchmen are created equal. Thank God, Buddha and President Macron.
I guzzle crépes like a teenager guzzles Maccas. Greedily and guiltily, but with gratitude.
There comes a time in Parisian online dating where one starts to become slightly weary of sifting through dozens of sometimes bizarre profile photos. I’m talking head-to-toe latex suits, selfies taken while clearly high or drunk (or both), masks hiding faces, grown men in nappies, or headless bodies in “dandy” suits.
Not to mention that because my French language skills are limited and I tower over most men in my stilettos, the number of suitable candidates generally drops by a dispiriting fifty percent.
Reminding myself that the purpose of my adventures in French dating was to explore the diversity of French men - not necessarily meet Monsieur Perfect - I decided one day to scrape the Parisian barrel, and accepted an invitation to walk the banks of the Seine with Marc*.
Just a couple of inches taller than me, and admitting to having only “average” English skills, I knew ahead of time that there would be no second date, let alone that I would spend more than an hour with him.
However, grâce à Marc, I spent one of the funniest hours in Paris, and experienced my fourth important lesson :
Marc was typical of many French dates I’ve experienced in that he was very willing to walk for ages by my side, showing me the sights of Paris and explaining with pride the nature of French people. All rather romantic.
Except that right from the start, I could not get past his exceptionally strong French accent …
“You are Bahbawah? Pleasure to meet you, Bahbawah. You will be alwight to walk along the Seine in your high heels?”
Not to mention a bizarre habit of continuously referring to his obvious obsession with faire l’amour …
“We Fwench people are vewwy hard working, you know? But when we stop work, we live life. We make sex, we visit fwends, we visit gallewies. We like to make sex. We enjoy ourselves; we enjoy to eat, to dwink and make sex, you know?”
I was dwinking hot chocolate at the time, and I almost spwayed it in the poor guy’s face.
After more than an hour of listening to Marc’s particular bwand of fwench, I had had enough.
I bid him au wevoir … and cwinged as soon as I heard myself.
* Not Marc’s weal name.
That was a cute piece of advice a girlfriend gave me before I left Byron Bay, Australia for my new life in Paris, which captured my imagination and immediately became my cheeky intention.
Far from being just a greeting, I’ve discovered bonjour to be a way of being. It opens doors to all kinds of communications throughout the day, fosters a positive attitude with others and basically says Oui ! to life … french-style.
FIVE FUN WAYS TO ADD BONJOUR TO YOUR DAY
The French take time to enjoy life, not rush through it. In Byron Bay, I was always running on the beach or at yoga class by 6am, downing a kale smoothie by 8am then rushing to work by 9am. Not in Paris! Because bedtimes are so much later in summer and mornings are darker in winter, it’s too damn hard to rise at that kind of hour. I have girlfriends in Paris who take until 11am to get out the door. Some favourites :
· Make love before getting out of bed for work.
· Wake up naturally without an alarm.
· Brew a Nespresso and take it back to bed with the newspaper.
· En route to work, savour your coffee where you buy it, in a real cup, sitting down, sans portable (without your mobile).
... alongside (or dunked into) your Nespresso shot, or chocolat chaud. Food takes precedence over everything in France and is part of what accounts for the joie de vivre. Don’t feel guilty about skipping the five food groups; that’s what cheese (protein) and wine (fruit) are for later in the day.
Such as the nutty Comté cheese you’ll enjoy later with your champagne (or wine). Or fragrant flowers to brighten your apartment. The marchés in Paris are even better than the farmers markets I used to visit in Byron Bay. They’re scattered all over the city and you can smell the aromas of fresh baguettes, cheeses, flowers, crêpes, charcuterie and pâtisseries before you even see them. The French love to shop fresh daily and it’s one of the nicest ways to slow down and appreciate la vie.
In France, everything closes on a Sunday except restaurants, museums and markets. The perfect excuse whilst having a lie-in to adopt one of the above indulgences. Or several at the same time.
The French faire la bise (kiss) everyone they encounter, on both cheeks, when saying hello and goodbye. It’s so touching to witness, because historically it’s a symbol of peace and trust dating right back to the French Revolution. And it's so much warmer and friendlier. Men do it to eachother too. You don’t actually touch your lips to someone’s cheek, you simply make a small smacking sound as you gently brush cheeks. So no chance of ruining your perfect Parisian-red lipsticked lips.