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The Parisian Male: Charming Or Cheesy?

Paris wouldn’t be Paris without a bit of romance, right? The Parisian Male, that charming, well-coiffed pillar of French seduction, sometimes gets mixed reviews from visiting females. Do you like the attention you receive from men on the streets of Paris? Or is it all a bit too much? Claire, ever the English lady, takes a closer look at the men we love to hate to love. -Genevieve
HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Parisian Male

Carin Olsson

I recently had a chance to observe the Parisian Male in his natural habitat over the course of a month or so. After many years of coming to Paris, I have managed to form and retain the view that the Male is more often than not charming, attractive, stylish, intelligent and appreciative of women. Oh, and romantic of course.

HiP Paris Blog, TOF alias christophe hue, Parisian Male

TOF alias christophe hue

When I started to delve deeper (in the name of research, of course), what I discovered caused me to go from “hmmm” to “ookaayy” to – on one occasion – “eeeeewwww.” Obviously I’m coming from a northern European female perspective, so what might be off-putting to me might be delightful to someone else, but if you’re a foreign woman in Paris, you’re going to meet this type of Parisian Male.

You might have guessed by now that this is not the post to read for tips on how to meet Parisian men. The truth is, no tips are necessary. You just need to be a female and go to Paris.

Making MagiqueLindsey Tramuta

The Parisian Male will not hesitate to approach you. And your friend, and your friend’s mother, and her friend, and anyone else who’s wearing a skirt. While this ardent pursuit may be flattering at first, you will soon realize it’s not that you’ve been singled out because you’re particularly enchanting, it’s just that you’re now part of an age old citywide sporting match.

The first move to get down is the eye flirt. The Parisian Male will quite openly and directly appraise you, which isn’t usually completely unpleasant, even if the PM doing the looking isn’t your type. My friend and I started listing the different types of looks as we received them over the course of a day: the scan, the bike flirt, the sideways look, the gaze, the double shot, and the ubiquitous metro eye flirt, which really deserves its own category.

Making Magique

We soon gave up on the list as it became clear that there are as many types of looks as there are shapes of snowflakes. My award for excellence goes to the brave soul who stared at us past his girlfriend/wife in the passenger seat for a good five seconds while simultaneously driving a small car, negotiating a busy intersection on the phone, and lighting a cigarette.

The metro eye flirt is when one engages in ocular flirtation while on the metro, and it’s a perennial favorite among those I polled. I prefer to keep it at just the eye flirt and then go about my daily business, since I am more often than not on my way to actually do something. I realize now, however, that once retinas are engaged, it’s perfectly acceptable to strike up an actual live conversation, and then get off at the same stop and just keep going. Your Parisian friend/boss will always understand if you explain that you found yourself delayed by a spontaneous assignation.

HiP Paris Blog, TOF alias christophe hue, Parisian Male

TOF alias christophe hue

For years, as a lone female traveler I would often go sit at a café with a book in the late afternoon and watch the world go by. I now know what an incredibly naïve thing this was to do in Paris, at that time of day, and expect to be left alone to read and have a nice drink. Late afternoon is prime PM hunting time.

Ever heard of the cinq a sept? It’s not a myth. I was often baffled when someone I wasn’t at all romantically interested in started talking to me at a cafe. After politely chatting with them for a few minutes, they would inevitably become openly annoyed when I, instead of leaving with them, carried on reading my book.

HiP Paris Blog, TOF alias christophe hue, Parisian Male

TOF alias christophe hue

I have now learned that you must appraise any approaching PM in a split second. You don’t have time to chat for a while and decide if they might be interesting and worth getting to know as a friend. You have to dismiss them brutally at once, as a Parisienne would do.

It’s annoying to have to do this and reduces most male/female interactions to ruthless shutdowns, but it does avoid most unwanted propositions. If you find yourself needing to rebuff some fruity amorous advances from an overly confident Parisian Male, just remember that you don’t need to worry about hurting their feelings: their confidence will remain unscathed and they’ll just move on to the next one – it’s all part of the game.

HiP Paris Blog, TOF alias christophe hue, Parisian Male

TOF alias christophe hue

The Parisian Male has the ability to deliver textbook romantic lines with a completely straight face. It’s a special skill that very few British men can manage without turning the entire situation into a joke or becoming painfully embarrassed. I think the effect of the Parisian approach truly depends on how you feel about your interlocutor and the level of cheesiness involved. If you’re into them, it could be a refreshing, welcome change. The problem is when you’re really, really not and you don’t think you’ve given out a single vibe to encourage it. This when the “eeeewwww” happens.

HiP Paris Blog, TOF alias christophe hue, Parisian Male

TOF alias christophe hue

Ultimately, I still want to like Parisian men. I like that they seem to genuinely appreciate women (or at least our physical presence on the streets of Paris), and I still think they can be charming and intelligent. God knows they know how to dress themselves most of the time, and they often have amazingly voluminous hair that I find very attractive.

HiP Paris Blog, TOF alias christophe hue, Parisian Male

TOF alias christophe hue

I do feel sorry for the English Male, viewed as dull, inept at seduction, repressed except when drunk, shabbily dressed and confused by years of feminist theory into indecision when faced with whether or not he should hold a door open for a woman. But ultimately, you know where you stand with English men. If they’ve plucked up the courage to send you a text that it took them four days of inner torment to compose, you can be fairly sure they’re not just playing the game.

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Written by Claire Oldman for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Claire Oldman

Claire OldmanClaire Oldman is a travel, fashion and lifestyle writer who was born and raised in London, but she'd usually rather be in Paris. She founded the blog Lola is Beauty on a whim in 2005, to cover her favourite subjects of clothes, Paris, places that are not Paris and cats. Living like a local, not a tourist is always her aim when traveling. She was a fashion stylist for a decade, and now writes press releases and web copy for fashion brands, but only ones she loves, like Toujours Toi-Family Affairs. Claire is currently a contributing editor at Fathom: the travel website re-invented, and she has written on Paris and London for publications including Bust magazine and the Guardian. She was the London correspondent for online urban travel guide Gridskipper in its glory days and was given an award by The Paris Tourism Board for an article on what her perfect day in Paris would be. Happily, the prize was a trip to Paris.

Website: Lola is Beauty

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Posted in Parisian Living | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “The Parisian Male: Charming Or Cheesy?”

  • Olympia says:

    This is so true. When I went to Paris so many people men were staring at me. I found this quite weird but after a bit really pleasing. It was such a shock coming form britain because british men are so cold and dont even look at women and when they do it’s in a really pervy way. I love how charming the french men are and I definetaly perfer them to British men.

  • Bella says:

    I’m an Italian who lives in Rome, Paris, London and New York. It’s true that the men, although ardent, tend to approach the native women differently. French men like Italian men can tell if you’re a foreigner, and of course a beautiful one at that! They are also aware that they have an amorous reputation to outsiders. Which they employ to seduce the beautiful foreigner. Enjoy it as a pleasant pass time. If they are serious about you they will demonstrate less bravado. Instead with more focus and tenderness. And yes, London and New York guys are attractive, daring in their lifestyles and fashion. But completely terrified of even complimenting a woman. It’s very peculiar for me to watch men and women co-existing in a city – London & New York ,and not make eye-contact or compliment and communicate with each other. And then depend on Dating Agencies to meet one another. And they are mostly single, no children and under 40!? Women in London and New York spend a lot of time in the gym after work. Whilst in Paris after work, women are having a coffee with an admirer. Where would you rather be? London and New York are the easiest cities to be celibate in. In Paris and Rome, IMPOSSIBLE and thank God! Have a wonderful time flirting girls.

  • Abi says:

    I love this piece! I travel to France every year from Australia and last year my two teenage daughters (late teens) were constantly approached by males and looked up and down by both sexes! They are both very pretty, stylish girls and often get attention but not on this scale! Once a young guy jumped off his chair at a cafe we were walking past and pushed past me to get to them! He spoke to them in French, which they don’t speak but I do, and he was not fazed at all when I asked if I could help? He and his friend, who had now joined him, asked if my daughters could join them for a coffee then they would show them around Paris. Yeah, sure! Needless to say they stayed firmly by my side after that!

  • Claire says:

    Lena – in London too, you basically feel invisible. I don’t mind Parisian flirting glances at all! But in the end, and after a lot of research! I prefer the thought that someone has had to pluck up the courage to talk to you, rather than being such a practised charmer that they have no qualms about hitting on you. It feels as if it’s not because of anything specific about you as a person, it’s just opportunistic.

  • Lena says:

    I have been to Paris and France many times.My former boyfriend is a Parisian guy.From my experience I would not say that I have been harassed any time by French men.I grew up in Germany and I certainly prefer a guy who notices that I am an attractive woman and steps up to me – which barely happens with a German male. Here you basically feel like a neutral being and a group of Germans might look at you if you something extraordinarily different. It is incredibly exhausting to engage into flirting with a German guy – which usually happens when he had a few more pints of beer…Long story short,I do prefer the way of flirting and the approach of French men: they are confident enough to make the first step and they really know how to flirt without taking it too seriously or becoming vulgar. In general, they’re charming and know how to compliment,but there are exceptions like in any other country,of course.

  • jenn says:

    I’ve been to France a couple of times and I have to say I hate the French approach to women. I was traveling alone (average looking and not particularly well dressed) and I couldn’t sit any where–coffee shop, garden, beach–without being harassed. It took a few encounters before I got the hang of the really rude send off which appeared to be the only thing that would work.

  • Claire says:

    Christine – congratulations, you must look/seem Parisienne!

  • Mary says:

    I love this piece – it is so spot on!

  • Christine says:

    First I must admit I am 34 year old American, living in Paris and happily married to a Frenchy.

    In all the time I have been in Paris, I have never once been hit on by a true Parisian man (foreign men sure all the time). Not even a flirtatious glance. This absence went unnoticed until I went to the States for a 2 week visit and lost count of the number of flirtatious encounters by the end of the first day! Same for my visits to other Anglo countries. Heck I even had more luck in Germany!

    I feel a bit envious to know there is a phenomenon going on right beneath my eyes. Do I look too much like a Parisian with my glazed over look in the metro or my nose stuck in a book on the commute home. Do I send out a married / off the market vibe? I dunno.

    One last comment. My French girlfriends have never spoken of this attention either.

    A puzzle

  • Erin / HiP Paris says:

    Erin & Laurie – thank you for your kind comments! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Erin says:

    All very true. I would add, however, that we can easily extend these ideas and observations to cover all of France. When I was in my 20s, I would muster all my post-feminist outrage in the face of attention from French men. Now, in my 40s, I welcome it! ;) It still flusters my Canadian self no end, but now I find it charming and friendly, not intrusive. Thanks for a fun read!

  • Laurie SF says:

    Woman, you are good! Very funny.

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