For members


‘Frenchmen aren’t that great in bed’ – Five French dating myths exploded

France is seen as the home of romance and a place for lovers, but French writer Olivia Sorrel-Dejerine argues that many of these myths do not live up to reality.

'Frenchmen aren't that great in bed' - Five French dating myths exploded
Don't get your hopes up, love. Photo: Unsplash
France is often regarded as the country of love and Paris as the most romantic city in the world. And quite rightfully so.
But contrary to what you might think, the French are not all die-hard romantics. Here are five misconceptions about the French, love and sex.
French singer Serge Gainsbourg turns on the Gallic charm. Photo: AFP
1. Frenchmen are exceptional lovers
Frenchmen are often regarded as being passionate, seductive, romantic, sensitive…and exceptional lovers. Icons of seduction such as Serge Gainsbourg or Alain Delon or, more recently, Guillaume Canet or Gaspard Ulliel, have helped to perpetuate the myth of the sexy Frenchie.
Beyond the celebrity world, even ordinary Frenchmen are generally speaking regarded as being charming and as being remarkable lovers. Unfortunately, this is not an absolute truth.
While French boys have many qualities, they are not necessarily the best in bed.
However, things are changing with the conversation in France growing about female pleasure, and it is not only coming from women!
In his essay Au-delà de la pénétration (Beyond penetration) published earlier this year, Martin Page invites us to open up our ideas of sex,  think outside the box and embrace all the different ways in which we can experience intimacy.
The book was so successful, it sold out on the first printing in 2019.
2. A classic French date includes a candlelit dinner
A romantic restaurant, candles, champagne, and love songs in the background. That’s how you might picture a typical date for the French. Well, sorry to debunk the myth, but this is far from reality.
In fact, dating will mostly happen at a trendy new restaurant, at a popular wine and cheese bar (yes, this is not a cliché, the French truly love going to wine bars!), or at a fashionable cocktail lounge. Nice places are not hard to find in France, even in small cities.
Contrary to the common idea about a standard French “rendez-vous”, dating often happens in a casual, hip place rather than in a high-class restaurant.
If you see  a couple snogging in front of the Eiffel Tower, chances are they are tourists. Photo: AFP
3. French kissing
When we think of a French couple kissing, the first thing that pops up in our mind is the image of a slow, sensual, passionate kiss, usually happening in the streets. While making out does happen (thank goodness), the French are not big on sexy kisses in public (even before the era of social distancing).
They will typically quickly kiss on the lips to say hi, and maybe cuddle a bit at the movies, but the chances of seeing a  French couple kissing in public are rare.
In reality, the French are quite discreet when it comes to showing signs of love in public places.
4. Frenchwomen are really demanding
Well that might be true, but we’re working on it! Frenchwomen do want a man who is nice, funny and charming (you can find a list of what they are looking for in a lover here).
However, most of them are independent, and more and more don’t believe that they should necessarily be in a couple.
Furthermore, younger French people have a new way of considering love and are not bound to stick to the traditional model of the heterosexual couple. According to a 2019 study led by Tinder, 73 percent of Gen Z'ers [people born after the mid 1990s] said they chose to be single, with women accepting it more than men (51 percent v 37 percent).
5. The French are so romantic they would never date online
Since they are so seductive and romantic, why would they need a dating app?
Turns out, online dating is very common in France. In a 2015 study led by Statista, 37 percent of French people between 18-35 years old declared they thought using a dating app or website was a good thing. Tinder is now competing with more trendy apps such as Happn, Bumble, Hater or Deserve MI that all have a different and amusing way of functioning.
So whether you are just playing the field or looking for a French soulmate, at least now you know how it really works.
Do you disagree with Olivia? Share your French dating experiences here.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


IN PICTURES: 7 of the French government’s sexiest public health adverts

An advertising campaign aimed at convincing young people to get the Covid vaccine has attracted international attention, but it’s not the first time that French authorities have sexed up their public health messaging.

IN PICTURES: 7 of the French government's sexiest public health adverts
Image: AIDES.

It’s an international cliché that France is the land of l’amour – or at least the land of le sexe – and that reputation does seem to be justified, given how often French public health bodies have turned to sex in an attempt to get their message across.

From the suggestive to the downright scandalous, here are seven examples of health campaigns which relied on that oh so French fondness for romance.

Get vaccinated, get laid

The Covid campaign in question was created by regional health authorities in the southern Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region.

The poster which has got people hot under the collar features two very attractive and very French-looking people kissing, seemingly in the back of a cab after a night on the town. “Yes, the vaccine can have desirable effects,” it says.

The campaign has proved so popular that it will soon be expanded.

Promoting road safety

Earlier this year, the French Road Safety Delegation released a video ahead of Valentine’s Day, which showed a couple sharing an intimate moment in the bedroom.

The full 30-second video featured the slogan, “Life is better than one last drink for the road”.

Another image of two people kissing, seemingly without clothes, included the line, “Life, love. On the road, don’t forget what truly matters.”

Fight against HIV/AIDS

While the link between road safety and sex isn’t immediately obvious, less surprising are the references to intimacy in the health ministry’s HIV awareness campaign from 2016.

Each of the different posters shows two men embracing. Straplines include, “With a lover, with a friend, with a stranger. Situations vary, and so do the protective measures.”

The posters shocked conservative sensibilities, and several right-wing mayors asked for them to be taken down in their towns. 

HIV awareness campaign

Just a few days after the controversy over the ministry’s posters ignited, the non-profit AIDES launched its own campaign, and it didn’t hold back.

The posters showed scuba instructors, piano teachers and parachutists, all of them naked alongside their students. The slogan: “People undergoing treatment for HIV have a lot of things to pass onto us. But the AIDS virus isn’t one.”

“Even if we’ve been spreading this information since 2008, we realise that a lot of people don’t know that antiviral treatments prevent spreading,” head of AIDES Aurélien Beaucamp told France Info.

“People are still afraid of those who are HIV-positive.” 

Government-mandated pornography

It’s common for sexualised advertising campaigns to be labelled pornographic by critics, but in 1998, the French government went a step further and created actual pornography.

READ ALSO Language of love – 15 of the best romantic French phrases

The health ministry commissioned TV station Canal Plus to create five short erotic films to encourage the use of condoms and prevent the spread of HIV. The campaign featured up-and-coming directors such as Cedric Klapisch and Gaspar Noé.

“The only possible way to look at, to get people to protect themselves, is to show, show everything, show simply and without creating an obsession of the sexual act and the act of wearing a condom,” Klapisch said, according to an Associated Press story published at the time. 

You didn’t really think we’d include images of this one, did you? (OK, here’s a link for those who are curious).

A controversial anti-smoking campaign

It’s time to forget what we said about romance, because there is nothing romantic about this 2010 campaign from the Droits des Non-Fumeurs (Non-smokers’ rights) association and the BDDP & Fils communications agency.

The campaign featured several images of young people with a cigarette in their mouths, looking up at an adult man who rested his hand on their heads. The cigarette appeared to be coming out of the man’s trousers.

The slogan said, “Smoking means being a slave to tobacco”. The association said the sexual imagery was meant to get the attention of young people who were desensitised to traditional anti-smoking messages, but the posters caused outrage, with members of the government publicly criticising the choice of imagery.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ love

On the other end of the spectrum is this very romantic video from the national health agency Santé Publique France. It was released on May 17th 2021, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and was part of a campaign against anti-LGBT discrimination and violence. It is set to Jean-Claude Pascal’s Nous les amoureux

Showing a diverse range of couples kissing, holding hands, and healing each other’s wounds, the video ends on the word play: “In the face of intolerance, it’s up to us to make the difference.”