As une femme dune certain âge, I thought I’d seen it all in the gentleman-caller department. Mais non. 

I thought I was progressive, but I learned that I’m a recovering Puritan. Many Americans carry around a fair bit of Puritan baggage, passed down from our parents or absorbed from our culture. Some of us clutch our pearls at co-ed sleepovers, smoking pot and middle-aged women in bikinis. In France, they just do not care. If you’re en couple, they just assume that you’ll be spending time in each other’s homes or taking trips together. They are not titillated by your personal situation. There is no walk of shame. You’re just going home. 

Here are some things that I learned when I first got to know un français, up close and personal:

Left: A picture of a couple kissing in Jardin de Tuileries on two green seats surrounded by green trees. Right: A cup of black coffee and a red rose on top of a French newspaper, taken from above.
Top Left: @olesia.velychko / Top Right: @bisousmorgan / Above Left: @misscoolpics / Above Right: @ylmzceline

My French got better, especially the interjections. Here’s some of what I’ve picked up along the way.

Mince – darn it

Eh ben dis donc – whatever, oh well

Hop – the sound that accompanies the action of picking something up

Ouf – phew

Tak – the sound that accompanies the action of putting something down

S-bim – nailed it

Pshh – verbal equivalent of eye rolling

Beurk – yuck

Oh là là – good grief, often displaying slightly negative surprise

Boom – look at how well I did that

Chin chin – cheers

Hop-là – the sound you make when you put something inside something else, like when the cheese guy puts the Roquefort in your shopping cart

Pppttt – (non-verbal spitty thing) I don’t know, or I don’t care. 

I also figured out where to throw in the ever-so-useful merde and the all-purpose putain (most everywhere).

Duolingo never covered this. 

Left: Picture of a couple in winter clothes, holding a cup of take away coffee while crossing a boulevard in Paris with cars in the background. Right: A picture of a flower stand with white, pink, red orange and multi colored roses.
Left: Katerina Holmes / Right: @shaunaandjordon

We laugh a lot, but not always at the same time. My guy has a wry sense of humor, a knack for imitations, and the ability to tell a great story, things that I value highly. Like many French, though, he thinks slapstick humor is enormously funny. I do not. The day he showed me his favorite Jerry Lewis video, laughing hysterically, I was extremely uncomfortable. 

Left: A picture of a lovely cafe / restaurant in Montmartre called La Bonne Franquette with the Sacre Couer in the background. Right: A Picture of a couple sitting down on a terrace with coffee while reading a newspaper.
Left: @olesia_velychko / Right: @bisousmorgan

Very specific compliments. He appreciates my makeup, hair, and clothing. He points out clothes in shops that he thinks I’d look good in and waits around while I try them on. (He’s usually right.) He notices if I wear a different perfume, inhaling on my neck and murmuring how this one is fruity while yesterday’s was more floral. The knife cuts both ways, though, because he also had an opinion on that fire-engine red jumpsuit that I thought was a bold choice. Oh là là.

There’s a reason les français are so attractive, and it starts at home with his Frenchman’s beauty regime. His bathroom contains colognes (yes, plural), exfoliants, moisturizers, sunscreens, serums, shower gel for sensitive skin, lightly scented body oil, and a beard trimmer. There’s a loofa hanging from his shower head. He does not care if his products are marketed to men or women, and most of his stash is from a line of French cosmetics that is above my price range. Because, well, he’s worth it. Of course, not all Frenchmen are this beauty conscious, but I’m guessing more of them are than their Anglo counterparts.

Left: A picture of a couple cuddling at sunset at the Louvre, with the museums glass pyramid in the background.  Right: a picture of sunset in Paris taken from a wooden bridge crossing the Seine.
Left: @fevrierphoto / Right: @max_renaud

100% of your cooking problems can be solved with butter. Are your green beans or potatoes boring? Butter. Is your pasta sticky? Butter. Does your steak lack a little je ne sais quoi? Butter.

I asked him how all this butter can be healthy, and he just looked at me blankly and put a big dollop of it in the frying pan to start his omelet. When my doctor said my cholesterol was high, I asked her if I should cut butter, and she was horrified. “Mon dieu, non! Cut all oil, even olive oil,” she said, “but don’t deprive yourself of butter.” 

My guy’s annual check-up showed that his cholesterol was fine, by the way. Eh ben, dis donc.

Left: A picture of a couple holding hands on a bidge crossing the Seine, with Pontt Neuf in the background. Right: A picture of a bouquet of Prade roses on white linen sheets with a white shopping bag above.
Left: @fevrierphoto / Right: @naomijuthamanee

Dont have a snack, have a coffee. The French are notoriously thin. I think that my Anglo-Saxon curves are a genetic predisposition for me, but if I can get any nutrition tips from the French, I’ll take them. One thing my guy never does is eat between meals. Not a bite. He does, however, drop everything for a coffee several times a day. I’ve taken up this habit, and it seems to be working well. I love coffee more than some of my children, so it’s fine with me.

What about you? Have you dated un français? What did you learn? Any tips for me, moving forward?

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Written by Yvonne Hazelton for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person (when possible)? Check out new marketplace shop and experiences.


Yvonne Hazelton

Yvonne is an American writer living in Paris. She blogs at Escaping the Empty Nest.


  1. I dated a few… my only advice would be…please don’t lose yourself in them. Your red jumpsuit was hot. Their way is not always your way… I think I lost it when I was being told which lingerie was best. It was… but it was also bloody uncomfortable and I couldn’t feel my arms!!!!! Enjoy everything, though, loving the stories xx

  2. Fantastic article! love your sense of humor & observations….so much fun to read you. Look forward to more of your articles……..

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