If you've just clapped eyes on the woman of your dreams in a French bar, you need to make sure that your approach won't lead to either dismissive laughter or a slap.
Classic cheesy chat up lines like Tu n’as pas eu mal quand tu es tombée du ciel? (did it hurt when you fell from the sky) are petty unimpressive even in English, but are even less likely to snag you a date with a French lady.
So we've asked a selection of our French friends which approaches might make them more inclined to accept a date with a charming English-speaker.
(Hopefully this goes without saying, but if you're getting nowhere and the lady has made it clear that she is not interested, then please don't run through this entire list, just gracefully back off and leave her to enjoy her night out.)
- What French women are looking for in a lover – according to their tweets
- Romance in France – sex, champage and je t'aime
Je peux t'offrir un verre?
If you are in bar, Je peux t'offrir un verre? – May I buy you a drink? will be your go-to opening line. Offering someone a drink may be a classic and universal move, but it remains one of the most likely to success approach, even in France. Depending on the time of the day, you may want to suggest having a café instead.
Mes copains m’ont parié que je ne pouvais pas démarrer une conversation avec la plus belle femme du bar. Tu veux boire un coup avec leur argent ?
'My buddies bet I wouldn't be able to talk to the most beautiful woman in the bar. Wanna have a drink on them?' – which is a variant of the usual 'Je peux t'offrir un verre?' that might allow to stand out and get a positive answer.
J'aimerais beaucoup faire ta connaissance.
'I would really like to get to know you'. Usually following an hello, a 'J'aimerais beaucoup faire ta connaissance' would be ideal if you need a break from more physics-orientated chat-up lines.
Je suis tombé sous ton charme.
'I fell under your spell.' This is where it gets serious. Je suis tombé sous ton charme is not a phrase you would use on a regular basis though – save it for someone who really took your breath away.
Tu me fais perdre tout mes moyens.
'You're making me lose myself.' Whether you seem to have lost your ability to speak, cannot think straight, feel like you are being hypnotized, are nervously sweating or all of it at the same time, this is the line for you.
Tu me fais tourner la tête.
In the words of the famous Edith Piaf in her song Mon Manège à moi, Tu me fais tourner la tête – 'You're making my head spin' means to feel dizzy, as though you were drunk in love. Not to be mistaken with a literal translation which would be to turn somebody's head.
T'as de beaux yeux, tu sais.
As Jean Gabin said: 'You have beautiful eyes, you know'. It may not earn you an answer such as an Embrasse-moi – (kiss me) as with Gabin's co-star Michèle Morgan, but a thoughtful reference to this classic French cinema line will probably be appreciated. The French do use this line figuratively from time to time – when changing the tone of their voice to impersonate Gabin, it makes it harder to know whether they mean it or are just quoting Quai des Brumes.
Vous venez souvent ici?
'Do you come here often?' – Another classic icebreaker, so let's learn it in French. Though it may not be the most creative or subtle approach, let's argue that it's better than not to say anything.
Excuse moi de te déranger, mais je me suis dit que je serai fou de ne pas venir te parler.
'Sorry to bother you, but I thought it would be crazy not to come and talk to you.' – With this one, you will be going straight to the point. Candid and honest, all the while being considerate by apologising right away.
Salut, j’ai envie de t’aborder. Mais j’ai peur. Je ne sais donc pas si je vais le faire ou pas.
'Hey, I really want to talk to you, but I'm scared. So I don't know if I'm gonna do it.' The paradox of approaching someone by saying you don't know if you're going to actually approach them will either have them giggling or giving you a pitying look – we are betting on a fifty-fifty chance on that one.
J'aimerai beaucoup te revoir.
'I would really love to see again'. If any of the lines above helped you strike up a conversation with a stranger, let them know you really appreciated the time spent in their company and would like a second chance, saying 'J'aimerais beaucoup te revoir' may be a way to get there!
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?
Only joking! Unless you are actually part of a Lady Marmalade tribute act, do not ever use this one.