Dating anywhere at any point of your life can be a struggle. We all have our rolodex of stories from the very good to the very, very ugly. But trying to meet someone in a new city, or new country for that matter, presents a unique set of challenges. There’s the language barrier and cultural differences to consider, and logistical questions like, “Where do I go to meet people and how do I let them know I’m available?”
In this article, we’ll dive into the Paris dating scene and larger French dating culture, from France’s popular dating apps and a layout of where the cool kids hang out, to the cultural norms you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. Dating can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.
You’ve Gotta Have App(itude)
Let’s just get this one out of the way right off the bat: If you’re a millennial like me, you’ve probably had some experience with dating apps already. In France, the most popular apps for dating are Tinder, Bumble, and Happn.
I don’t find a huge difference in terms of dating app culture in Paris, North America or the UK. One thing you should note is that some French people may be intimidated by dating an English speaker. While many people in France do speak English, many don’t feel confident enough in their language skills to chat up someone they might be interested in.
If language is an issue, a good way to sift out people who speak like you is by adding your spoken languages into your bio. It’s a common convention in a city as big as Paris, so don’t be shy about letting others know your language limits.
Real Life Love
If finding people using a GPS system isn’t your thing, you can cast yourself out into the world and try your hand at meeting people in real life.
Finding a cute cafe or restaurant with English-speaking staff is a great way to put yourself in the same room with young English-speaking singles. Try a coworking café like Craft or Cuillier where expats love to work and hang out.
If all else fails, you can always revert to the old standard of meeting people in a bar. Not very romantic, but a time-tested method. Spots like La Bellevoise, La Lingerie Bar at Les Grand Voisins, and Le Comptoir Général are all popular among Paris’ hip crowd.
It’s a Work Thang
One controversial way to meet you’re next potential love is to take a cursory glance around the room next time you’re in the office. I know, dating your coworkers can be a messy move, but here in France, it’s a lot less taboo than it is in the Anglo world. Rules about dating coworkers are few and far between. And it’s not uncommon to discover that two or three of your coworkers have a history and maintained a professional relationship during and after their flings. If you feel like you’re mature enough to handle it, go for it. Just make sure you’re both discrete and no one will bat an eye.
Meet You There
Meetup.com is another great way to find people with similar interests who might also be interested in something more. There are thousands of groups to choose from that have great attendance rates. One of the most popular groups for English speakers is Lost in Frenchlation, a club for Anglophone movie lovers. There are also running groups, yoga clubs, book clubs, photographer meetups… pretty much anything you’re interested in, there’s a group.
Public Displays of Rejection
Is PDA cool in France? Yes and no. French people are quiet, they do not speak loudly in public, they are suspiciously good as concealing how drunk they are. They do not do things like start bar fights or vomit on the sidewalk. They head to the back alley where no one can see them, then gracefully stride back inside like it never happened because they are very, very classy.
In a total departure from such social protocol, it is acceptable to make out with your main squeeze while out in public. As long as you’re literally out. When outside, it seems to be completely okay to shove your tongue down someone’s throat in broad daylight. Conversely, I have never once seen a couple necking in the back of a restaurant or bar on a Friday night. For whatever reason, the rule seems to be that if you take it outside, you’re good to go.
Talk Political to Me
Like most countries, in France, politics vary greatly between the city and the countryside. Outside urban centers like Paris, Toulouse, and Lyon, the French population often veers towards the conservative. Of course you’ll find a margin of outliers anywhere, but it’s good rule of thumb to keep in mind if politics are important to you.
This being said, you shouldn’t be afraid to talk politics on a date. Luckily, French people don’t mind engaging in a good political debate.
Whenever, wherever, and with whomever you decide to begin dating, there are a few general rules of thumb you should know before getting exclusive with a Frenchie.
Don’t date total strangers. If a random person chases you down on the street to tell you they like your coat, run away. This is not normal or romantic behavior, but the preferred tactic of men just trying to get you know where.
There is a big difference between a date in the afternoon and at night. Afternoon dates are like pre-dates. Not very romantic, a casual way to figure out if your compatible. Chances are it won’t end in a make out session by the Seine. Evening dates however, or afternoon dates that turn into evening dates, hold greater potential. Don’t be afraid to make it clear that you’re not taking him or her home with you if you don’t want to. Or do, we’re not judging.
And on that note, don’t be afraid to have sex on the first date. Most people won’t judge you or write you off as just a hookup. It’s cool, go for it if you want to.
If you’re walking around in public holding hands, you’re together. There’s no pretense or need for the dreaded “What are we?” talk. If you’ve been hanging out consistently for a couple weeks, it’s likely that your French partner thinks you’re already exclusive. Be upfront right away if that’s not the case!
- Read more about being single in Paris.
- For dating in Paris 101, head to Je t’aime me neither.
- Read about dating French men over on The Local.