Online dating is a fairly new idea in France, but it’s quickly become a common way to meet other singles. Like in America, there are several sites that tailor to the different needs of those interested in dating in Paris. For example, for those looking for marriage or a serious relationship, there is the humorously titled Attractive World. Cougar Rencontre, as you can guess, caters to older women who want to prey on younger men, and hey, if you’re looking to commit adultery, there’s the egregious Gleeden. It’s true when they say that there’s something for everyone out there. If you’re like me, who was curious, looking for something a little more fun, less dramatic and definitely less specific, there is Adopte un Mec (Adopt a Dude), a quirky dating site that caters to women . . . who like to shop.
The shopping metaphor has the site functioning more like e-commerce than a dating website, taking the edge off the unhip stigma that is associated with looking for love on the Internet. Upon signing in, the home page welcomes you with a list of regional products showcasing new items available in your area, products to test and items that just fell off the truck, as well as how many products you have selected from your previous visit that are ready to be checked out. Did I mention that these products are men? I admit: it’s a bit degrading toward these fellows who actually have to pay for this manhandling, but extremely entertaining for us women who want to have a little fun with online dating in Paris.
Wanting to know how dating sites in France work, I went undercover and created an online profile to find out exactly how one adopts a mec. Before jumping into the deep pool of profiles, I customized my search using the product category drop-downs that tailored to the specifications that I was looking for in a man. What color hair did I want him to have? How hairy did I want him to be? What about his social style? Did I want him to be nerdy? An intellectual? An executive? How about bisexual? What about his neighborhood? How far did I want to commute to see my potential new boyfriend? Careful to not be too specific, I chose men between the ages of 30 and 40, living in Paris, with a beard. As you can imagine, over 400 profiles came up in my search.
While the women have free reign to initiate communication with any of the products of her liking, the men, on the other hand, are only granted direct access once a woman has placed them in her shopping cart. Yes, that’s right, a shopping cart! Once they are in your panier—excuse me while I chuckle at that sentence—voilà, the lines of communication are open!
After exchanging e-mails with several men over the course of three weeks, bringing my popularity percentage up to 66, I finally narrowed my search to three guys to take our rendez-vous off-line: Mec #1: The Bradley Cooper Look-a-Like; Mec #2: The Moroccan; and Mec #3: The Hipster.
As one could imagine, the Bradley Cooper look-alike was absolutely gorgeous. He was an American who was raised in France and Italy, so on top of speaking English, he also spoke fluent French and Italian with perfect accents. He was funny, outgoing, obviously understood American humor, but there was one red flag that I simply could not ignore: his eyes were glued to his phone, as he ferociously texted someone several times during our dinner. “Bradley” was honest and let me know that he was texting his French baby mama, and was confirming that he was going to pick up his son after the date. After two mojito royals, he confessed that the baby mama was actually still his wife, and that they were just taking a break. Vital information that he could have included in his profile. Mec #1 was eliminated.
Next up was The Moroccan, who owned his apartment on my favorite street in the 7th Arrondissement, worked at La Défense, was in his late 30s, and had gorgeous, creamy olive skin and light eyes. In short, he was what I call “Paper Perfect.” Our date at Le Zinc, in the 15th Arrondissement, flowed well. He was attentive, didn’t text his wife and had a great sense of humor, although he was a little arrogant, but nothing a tough New Yorker like me couldn’t handle. It wasn’t until our second date that I went running for the hills. Something about his request to the server that his steak be cooked with its règles, a disgusting way of saying he would like it rare, and his insistence that I come up to his apartment to play a game that he invented, called Cards, where the “prize” involved forcing the loser to do whatever the winner wanted, didn’t sit well with me. Mec #2 was eliminated. Effective immediately.
Finally, there was The Hipster, who, like me, had just gotten out of a relationship and wasn’t looking for anything too serious. He also had a blog that he was passionate about, and we shared a love for British pop, even though he was a little bit Oasis and I’m a lot Blur. Not wanting to sit through another dinner, I proposed that our date be a walk around Paris, letting the city inspire our topics of conversation. It must have been a good strategy for getting to know each other, because we spent seven hours walking and talking. That day turned into a summer of picnics at almost every park in the city, an autumn of day trips on his Vespa and our first Christmas together in New York. We are celebrating our one-year anniversary next week.
This was not supposed to happen! This was supposed to be an experiment; an insider’s look at online dating in Paris. Putting the man that I would soon be sharing a home with in my online shopping cart was certainly not the story I wanted to tell my family or other couples who asked how we met. I have come to peace with the fact that we didn’t have that cinematic and romantic chance meeting in a Parisian café; I already did that and it turned into a French nightmare. As with every major city, Paris is not exempt from evolution, and online dating might just be the next big thing in meeting your mec in this ever-changing city. Why not? I heard Chipotle just opened up.
Lisa Czarina chronicles her adventures of love and dating in the City of Light on her blog.
Editor’s note: Once you have your man, treat him to the ultimate in gifts for lovers by consulting Just for Two, one of our partners. Just for Two creates some of the most memorable Paris-inspired gifts and experiences we know of.