There’s no doubting Paris is a romantic city: just look at all those love locks and the street condom machines dotted around Paris.
What is dating anyway? Is it that quaint Anglo custom of wining and dining someone numerous times before daring to have sex? The survey remains coy.
In Paris the approach seems more, well, frank. As French sex columnist Maya Mazaurette put it last year when asked whether she had sex on the first date:
“Absolutely! But it’s not even an issue because there is no date. There is just first sex. You think someone is attractive, you give it a try.”
To summarise for Twitter: Sex first, ask questions later.
If second sex follows the first, so begins a full-blown relationship. And if not, well, you’re bound to awkwardly run into them within six months on the Metro, and you can try your luck again.
It all might sound arse about tit to the way it’s supposed to work in English-speaking countries, but I understand the reasoning too.
First, almost everything you do here for leisure is mano-el-mano (or womano), and in strict English terms, would meet the definition of a date: get lost in a museum, get lost in the Marais, be told ‘to get lost’ when you move a stool on a bar terrasse, etc.
If Parisian social life is one long date shared with different people, doesn’t the term become redundant?
What then about intent? Is it the unspoken desire to have sex with the other that transforms an innocent evening wasted queuing for Rosa Bonheur into a date? You just need to look at French presidents to realize a general vibe of “up for it?” hangs over most of Paris, pretty much all the time.
So the intent argument is somewhat impotent too.
And third, what Maya said.
I don’t think this particular view of dating is necessarily reserved just for French, but can be adopted by most anyone living in Paris.
One Australian, let’s call him Johan (a pseudonym), thinks of dates in Paris like quality control.
“It’s where I like the look of someone/they like the look of me then we snog/shag/get the number of, but then we need the date to see if I/they were too drunk to be seeing/thinking straight on the first occasion”. Which according to Time Out is a decision made within 2-3 minutes by 41 percent of the world.
Do you really need to sacrifice an evening to find out you’re incompatible in bed, or life generally? For Parisians, the survey says non.
I was once having an apéro on a terrasse with some French guy who watched a girl walk past and into the apartment next door. Up he jumped and buzzed every intercom until someone answered. After ten minutes of talking himself up (literally), the door swung open.
So while Pierre didn’t pay for his beers that day, he did leave me with a tip: when it comes to relationships in France, don’t make a date, just make love.