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Five myths to explain why French lovers fail to live up to expectations

After regularly having to lend an ear to her Anglo friends left disappointed by the failure of their French lovers to live up to expectations, blogger Muriel Jacques, who runs the site "French Yummy Mummy" clears up a few common myths about Frenchmen.

What would we do without stereotypes? I sometimes wonder. Whenever I catch up with friends over a coffee, I often get comments about how disappointed they are with a French lover one of them has (or had, actually). This usually begs the following question:

What happened to the myth of the French lover?

They look at me intensely, hoping for some meaningful answers. I usually nod quietly. To be honest, there isn't much I can say.  Because to me, it is a classic case of expectations that are too high.

Get real, girls. No man, French or not, is going to sweep you off your feet on a white steed. Just get your own life. But you know what, in the name of the sisterhood, I am going to try to debunk the myths for you today…Here we go:

Myth 1: He is such a great kisser/lover (you get the gist of it)

Right. Where do I start? I am fully aware that the French kiss is, well, French, and that we French are supposed to be experts in the love department. That said, the old romantic in me is still convinced that a kiss is not just about technique. As I know that some of you like numbers, let's say, for the sake of argument that a kiss is 20 percent about technique, and the rest about, you know, feelings. In short, it is mainly about compatibility and butterflies in your tummy. It can't be explained, it has to be experienced. And it has nothing to do with nationalities (this much I know).

Myth 2: French men all cheat on their partners

I have heard this one so many times that it feels like listening to a broken old record. Yes, I know that French politicians have a tendency to have mistresses and fool around, and the statistics apparently show that more than 55 percent of French men (I read it somewhere) have cheated on their partner. But I am of two minds about this. Because there is something I will never understand. Here it is: if more than half of French men cheat on their partner, surely it means that a sizeable proportion of the female population is cheating on their partner too? In short, it is a two-way street, right? It takes two to tango…So why do we keep blaming men in general and French men in particular? I don't get it.

Myth 3: French men are effeminate

Well, some French men can be quite sophisticated, and more in tune with their feminine side. That said, I would argue that it is a Parisian thing rather than a French one. Some French men are indeed proud to be vocal about their love for art and are not afraid to wear pink shirts. And what's wrong with this? Nothing, right? Well, apparently not. Maybe in some cultures showing your feminine side is seen as a weakness? I wonder.

Myth 4: He believes that he is irresistible

There is something about French men and confidence. Look at French actors like Vincent Lindon or Jean Reno. Let's be honest here: they are less buff than George Clooney or Matt Damon. But still, they go out with the most beautiful women of this world. It is all about confidence. They ooze it. Well, if it works for them, then why not? I know, life is unfair.


Vincent Lindon at the Berlin film festival. Photo: verni22im/Flickr

Myth 5: He complains all the time when he gets sick

Well, it is not for nothing that a cold is also called man flu, right? I am not sure that it has got anything to do with being French. I often wonder how men would manage if they had to deliver babies. I will never know, and it's probably better because it would be really ugly.

So much for the myth of the French lover…I sincerely hope that you are not too disappointed. On a lighter note, this morning my teenage daughter asked me what her husband's nationality should be. Seriously, she added, what would be best for her? I almost choked on my croissant and answered that it didn't matter, as long as she was happy.


London-based blogger Muriel Jacques. Photo: Alejandra Moral

To read more from Muriel, visit her blog French Yummy Mummy or you can join her thousands of followers on Twitter @FrenchYumMummy

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Nine French words that the French just don’t use

These words are all technically correct and are in the dictionary - use them in everyday conversation however and you're likely to earn yourself a few funny looks and sniggers.

Nine French words that the French just don't use
Don't always trust the dictionary. Photo: Y-Boychenko/Depositphotos

1. Sacré bleu!

This one seems to crop up in Anglophone news headlines all the time when journalists wish to create a sense of classic Frenchness. For example a story in a San Fransisco based newspaper about an international battle over internet domain names was headlined 'French scream sacré bleu at US government'.

The reason for this is probably that it's in many French textbooks that Anglophone schoolchildren use so they grow up thinking that all Frenchmen shout sacré bleu! whenever they tread in dog muck or run out of Gauloises (and fair enough, it's probably too soon to start teaching kids about the joys of a good putain).

In reality this is very rarely used in France for the simple reason that it's very old fashioned. It would be like turning up in England and shouting 'crikey' or 'golly Moses' at people and expecting them not to smirk.

Although we should report that one writer at The Local says she heard it recently from a woman in the street who was nearly knocked over by a cyclist. She did add, however, that the woman was 'about 95'.


French tech words have a few traps for the unwary. Photo: AFP

2. L'accès sans fil a internet

This is a proper phrase that was coined by the venerable Academie Française and it means connecting to the internet without the use of wires or cable. For some reason, however, the cumbersome phrase never really caught on and the French prefer using the far simpler 'wifi' which was coined in the Anglophone world. In French however it is pronounced 'weefee' and after some debate it was decided that it should be masculine – le wifi. So if you need access to the internet in a hotel, café or meeting space you can simply ask someone Avez-vous le code pour le wifi? – do you have the wifi password?

3. Faire l'amour

Anyone reared on a diet of romance novels and fantasies about charming Frenchmen and/or sexy French ladies may be hoping to do a spot of this, but use the phrase and you'll find yourself less likely to score. In the same way that not many people really say 'making love' in English, faire l'amour is not widely used in France either. French people, especially younger ones, generally use either coucher (to sleep with), the English word 'sex' or a few slightly cruder alternatives like baiser or niquer.

4. Ménage à trois

And while we're hovering around the bedroom, this French phrase may be very well known in the Anglophone world to describe a night of fun involving three people, but is rarely used in that sense in France. If this is what you're after, you'd do better propositioning your two likely candidates for un trio.

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If you want fireworks in the bedroom, you'll need to get the vocab right. Photo: AFP

5. Nonante

Sadly, this is not used in France and you're stuck with the cumbersome quatre-vingt-dix. The practical Swiss have decided that some of France's famously more outlandish numbering systems soixante dix, quatre-vingt, quatre-vingt-dix (70, 80 and 90) should be replaced with septante, huitante and nonante. In some parts of Belgium these are used too but not in France. So if you're based here you're stuck with puzzling out that 'four twenties, ten eight' means 98.

6. Mobile multifonction

This is another one courtesy of the Academie Française. The French language enthusiasts are so concerned about the possible erosion of the French language by a flood of techy new words from America that they've recently devoted quite a lot of time to coming up with French translations for popular tech gadgets and systems. This is a translation of 'smartphone' that has never quite caught on.

In reality most French people will refer to their 'smartphone' or even just their portable under the assumption that these days it's actually pretty hard to find a cell phone or mobile phone that doesn't have internet functions.

READ ALSO OPINION France's fight against new English words is totally stupid

7. Courriel

Another tech translation that never quite caught on is un courriel – this is the correct French translation for an email, but in reality most French people, especially the younger ones, will simply refer to un e-mail or un mail if they wan to send you an email.

8. RSVP

Used in the Anglophone world to denote a fancy party invitation that requires a response Répondez s'il vous plait is a well known French phrase. The use of French, of course, indicating that this is a sophisticated affair that won't involve beer or chips. But in France you won't see that on invitations, if it's the kind of do that needs a response, the phrase used will be a simple Réponse souhaitée.

9. Mot-dièse

If you want to tag someone in on Twitter it's probably best not to use this one. Another contribution from the Academie Française, this provoked not just disinterest but hilarity on social media when it was suggested as an alternative to hashtag.

 

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