If you live abroad and say you’re from France, there’s a rather good chance you’re told something like “ah the country of love”. Some will tell you “the country where people don’t wash” but that’s a completely different topic altogether. The “Paris-ville-de-l’amour” cliché is a die-hard one, even in neighbouring countries, where they really should know better.
Don’t be mistaken.
There is nothing particularly romantic about France. Cities are loud, crowded and polluted, the rural areas are boring and deserted, the weather too hot in summer, too cold in winter – nothing you don’t already have at home. What makes the difference is the French attitude. Because the French are dauntless, bold and persistent a bit like that flu one tends to catch in autumn and can’t get rid of until the early days of spring.
And this is where the misunderstanding comes from: a naive tourist, only speaking a couple of French words (reminiscence of 5th grade) looking for their way makes the perfect prey for Gallic marauders. They will most likely to try and help you out but don’t be fooled – there always is an ulterior motive. They want to get into your pants.
The average French array of techniques can be quite impressive. Of course there is the French accent. You’d think it’s a made-up rumour from Hollywood Studios, but no – that’s how they speak English to make you feel like you’re in Moulin Rouge .
Because you’re smiling at them (laughing on the inside at the aforementioned accent), they get all cocky and invite you for a glass of wine. Yes, even at 10 a.m. “How controversial and how daring”, you might think? It’s only to get you drunk before lunchtime.
The next step is culture smearing. The French LOVE their culture and feel like they should give you a more or less accurate yet very detailed lecture about it. I hope you like medieval painting and literature of the 16th century or you’re doomed to a lot of yawning. If they can’t entice you with their tommyrot, they might attempt to tweedle you with some husky-singing singer and their deep, meaningful texts (just assume they are).
Now you’re full of cheese, red wine, Rimbaud, Voltaire and Gitanes Blondes, il ou elle may try to take you home, after all you’ve known each other for three hours, that’s plenty of time and serious matters are next. Now, one thing you ought to know about seduction in France is that it has no limit. As a result, you may be flirting with a married person. Not that this person is a jerk, it’s just that seduction is a lifestyle and faith overrated. You know, that so-called French romanticism.
Get ready for some serious disillusion. That painter living a Bohème life writing you poetry is more likely to be a failure of an artist in his mid 30s, a football fan chain-smoking on the sofa, living with his parents and in two kind-of serious relationships. Like I wrote, nothing you don’t already have back home.