March 22, 2013
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- How do you recognize a true Parisian man? My French Country Home gives us a few pointers
- If you’re already taken, Tory Hoes gives us her best tips on things to do with your boyfriend in Paris
- StyleCaster shares their 15 best tips about dating French guys
Written by Claire Oldman
Claire 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