How To Date A Parisian

Paris may be called the City of Love, but its dating culture can be intimidating for outsiders to break into. Here at Babbel, we sat down with some of our very own Parisian colleagues for their best tips and tricks on dating in Paris. Keep reading to discover their Do’s and Don’ts.

Romance Is Still In The Air

While in many parts of the world, romance is dying with every swipe left, this isn’t the case for the City of Love. Sure, Tinder has invaded Paris as it has every other city, but la Ville Lumière has yet to be truly affected. Walking around the picturesque city streets is still common on dates, and more traditional ideas of love and romance are still going strong in Paris. This is especially true of gender dynamics.

All the Parisians at Babbel noted that it was important for a man to act “gentlemanly,” such as by opening doors for his date, if he wanted to make a good impression. Even when approaching someone, it’s still more common for men to approach women to begin flirting (a stark contrast compared to their German counterparts). And at the end of a meal, don’t suggest going Dutch — that would be considered strange to Parisians. If you’re out with someone more traditional, the man will pay for the whole bill, while if you’re more progressive or on a same-sex date, then the person who suggested going out will foot the bill.

Show Off Your Sophisticated Side

Dating in Paris means it’s time to demonstrate how well your parents raised you and how sophisticated you can be. In the fashion capital of the world, this means first and foremost showing off your refined personal style. It’s important to dress well, as your Parisian counterpart will inevitably be impeccably dressed (in black).

It’s also vital to speak politely and show off your intelligence. One of the best things you can do is to highlight your highbrow humor, and sarcasm and black-humor are especially appreciated. One Babbelonian noted that the best thing a Parisienne could say to her friends was that her date made her laugh. As they say in French: «Femme qui rit est à moitié dans ton lit» (If you can get a woman to laugh, she’s halfway to your bed).

It’s also worth noting what should be avoided. Sportswear and athleisure are definitely not date-appropriate in Paris (or probably anywhere). Furthermore, avoid controversial topics like politics, religion and especially money: Talking about how much money you make is a huge faux pas. And swearing in front of someone that you don’t know very well in France doesn’t reflect well on your character. Finally, keep your alcohol consumption in check. While it’s quite common in the United States, Australia and the UK to binge drink even during romantic encounters, it will not get you a second date in Paris.

Put Thought Into The Location

Picking the right location is key for a successful date in Paris. This will also say a lot about you to your potential companion. As a quick cheat sheet, one of our Babbelonians suggested picking a place in quartier Latin if you’re artsy, while if you’re feeling particularly fancy, having a drink in Le Marais or around Trocadéro is a good idea. Hipsters and students often enjoy the small streets around Canal Saint-Martin for the relaxed atmosphere.

Every Parisian at Babbel noted that if you get a date in Paris, it’s bound to start at a café, likely in the late afternoon or early evening. The best café selections also allow you to snack on something small, but don’t plan on having a full meal there. Assuming the date is going well, you should have a restaurant in mind to go to after the café, and perhaps even a bar if you want to continue after the restaurant.

When in doubt, gallery openings are quite popular spots for a date, as they give you something to talk about with the other person and often include free alcohol. You can also explain to your date that you’re new to the city, because many Parisians love showing others around their favorite spots.

There Are Different Norms For Intimacy

Compared to most of the English-speaking world, Paris has a very sexy reputation. The art is risqué, the people are sublime, and English includes dozens of French loan words to talk about eroticism (like lingerieburlesqueboudoir and femme fataleto name a few). It shouldn’t be a shock, then, to find out that Paris has different cultural norms when it comes to intimacy. In most English-speaking countries, sex is traditionally considered off the table until several dates have gone by (or your encounter may be interpreted as just a “hook up”). But for dating in Paris, this isn’t this case. Passionate kissing and sex on the first date isn’t taboo, nor does it necessarily mean that you won’t be getting a second date.

One last tip on this front: While it’s called “French kissing,” this doesn’t mean that the French exclusively kiss like this. Be mindful and don’t go overboard with your date, or you may scare them off!

Learning French Helps Your Odds

Although many Parisians speak some English, they’re also quite well-known for their shyness speaking it. So you’ll increase your chances of scoring a date if you brush up on your French! All of the Parisians at Babbel said not to worry about your accent in French, as accents sound cute to a native speaker (especially if you have an British accent, one noted). It’s the effort to learn the native language, especially in a city like Paris, that makes the biggest impact.

And a final note to men looking to get a date in Paris — don’t approach a French woman with a cliché like the infamous line from “Lady Marmalade”: «Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir» (Do you want to sleep with me tonight?). Not only is this rude, but we can guarantee that every woman in Paris has already had that line tried on her. You’d get a lot further with something nice like: «Est-ce que je peux t’inviter pour un autre verre demain soir?» (Can I invite you for another drink tomorrow night?). Recalling one of the previous points, it’s most important to be polite and distinguished in your approach, so prioritize this in your French.

To sum up with some Do’s and Don’ts:

  • start in a cafe
  • be very polite/chivalrous
  • show off your humor and your intelligence
  • try to speak some French
  • wear something chic
  • split the bill
  • talk about money
  • drink too much
  • go up to someone and ask, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?
  • wear sportswear or athleisure
Learn some French for your next trip to Paris!
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