Women have been in love with the Parisian lifestyle since well before Marie Antoinette suggested we all eat cake. And why not—what’s not to love? There are pastries, fashion, chocolate and, oh yes, French men. But where is a girl to get a French man in Paris? It would be so convenient if there were a department of them at the local grand magasin. An elegant place where women could pick out a man, complete with a receipt for return, just in case we were lured into an impulse purchase, seduced by his French perfume and shiny, well-polished shoes. There are no boutiques, but there are some great places for meeting the French man of your rêves.
1. Move! I don’t know what it is about sweat and effort, but every time I go to the gym or head out on a run, there are men making eye contact, hoping things will go a bit further than innocent sport. All it would take is a welcoming smile or friendly nod. I guess that explains why even the octogenarian Parisiennes I see in the locker room are wearing matching bra and panty sets for their regular workout.
2. Cultivate yourself. Museums are a surprisingly popular pickup place in Paris. Sitting alone on an empty bench at your favorite museum, especially on a weekday, one may be approached by a trendy young man. He may be a bored aristocrat or an actor on break—those too rich to have to worry about the mundane routine of a regular job. But museums are free to the unemployed and the under-26 crowd, so the adventure begins immediately as you try to figure out who he is and what he’s after with a conversation that promises to be intellectual, and quite stimulating.
3. Come in August. This is a delicate one and definitely not recommended for young women hoping to start a lifelong relationship with a French man. To survive the long school holidays, couples are forced to separate, creating a tag team, with one parent in the country with the children while the other stays in Paris for work. The result is a lot of very married French men (and women) on the prowl just as the temperatures heat up, necklines drop and hemlines rise. A fun flirtation on the terrace of a swanky café can be a delightful moment, but no matter what he says, chances are very high that Monsieur has a Madame. Caveat emptor.
4. Get connected. I know a lot of expat women who have met the men of their dreams online, starting with moi! Expats are like exotic fish in the dating pool, drawing lots of extra attention. There are many sites out there. Meetic is the most standard site, while Adopte un Mec (Adopt a Dude) is a great resource for the under-40 crowd and AttractiveWorld is for those who put high stock on good looks. There is even a site for married women looking for some entertainment on the side, called Gleeden. I can not even begin to imagine how it works, and more precisely, how the women avoid running into their own husbands online, but the site’s ads keep me amused while I wait for the metro in the morning: “Unlike antidepressants, lovers are free,” for example, or “There’s a reason we don’t have a loyalty program.”
5. Go shopping. Not exactly where you’d think of finding a man, but I have it from very good sources that single men go to the Grande Epicerie on Friday and Saturday evenings to scope out women and their shopping carts. Lots of milk, breakfast cereal and a large roast sends them back into the metro, while an exotic tea and a few grams of smoked salmon with a half-dozen blinis in the cart is a sure sign that madame is a mademoiselle—a fairly elegant one with good taste in whom they are definitely interested. Simply throw in a bit of eye contact and a welcoming smile, and it may turn out to be the most successful shopping trip of your life!
Sylvia is thrilled to be a French citizen living in Paris, where she writes ad copy for brands like Cartier, Hermès and L’Oréal while raising two teens and learning to share life with a French man. You can read more about her adventures in Paris and across the globe at Finding Noon.