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DATING

11 of the best phrases to flirt in French

Is France’s romantic vibe making you want to learn more about flirting? A good way to start is to get familiar with the key phrases to use when it comes to this ancient art. Here’s a round-up of the basics. 

French couple kissing at the Metro
Need help with the language of love? Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

As flirting generally takes place in an informal situation, the following phrases are mostly quite colloquial, and we’ve used them all with the familiar tu form of you.

If you’re in a situation where the formal vous is required, then we would suggest that flirting is probably not appropriate (unless you’re into role play of course, but that’s a whole other article).

Draguer – to flirt. If you fancy trying your hand at the French dating scene, draguer is the perfect word, it means flirting with or hitting on someone.

You can decide to be upfront about it and say it directly to the person you fancy. Oui je te drague – Yes, I’m hitting on you.

But you can also use it to gossip: Ce mec drague toutes les nanas au bureau ! – This guy flirts with all the girls at the office! 

Find out more about that phrase here

Chiner – to hit on. The younger generation use it all the time when it comes to chatting someone up or hitting on them. Tu le chines? – Are you hitting on him?

But be careful, this word is also commonly used when you go bargain hunting for old furniture or second-hand goods at a Brocante  (a vintage or second hand market) so don’t assume that everyone at the market is flirting with you.

Find out more about that phrase here

Faire la cour – to woo. This is a pretty dated phrase but you may still hear it, and not only if you’re watching a historical movie.

Il lui fait la cour depuis des mois – He’s been wooing her for months. 

Aborder – to approach. This can be used in several contexts to mean an approach or to broach a subject, but in a romantic sense it means making your first approach to the object of your affections.

You can use this word when it comes to talking to someone for the first time, whether it is online or in real life.

Je n’ose pas l’aborder – I’m afraid of approaching her. 

Le ou la faire craquer – to fall for someone. Craquer means to ‘give in’ so you’ll use this idiomatic phrase when you’ve managed to seduce someone or when you have been seduced.

Elle me fait trop craquer – I’ve really fallen for her.

Voici mes conseils pour le faire craquer –  Here’s my advice to snag him.  

En pincer pour to like. Pincer means ‘to pinch’ but this idiomatic phrase is used when you are really fond of someone.

J’en pince pour toi – I really like you. 

Décrocher un premier rendez-vous – To get a first date. It’s not always easy but when it happens you may want to share the news.

J’ai enfin décrocher un premier rendez-vous avec elle ! – I finally got a first date with her!

Se le ou se la taper – to have sex with someone. Taper means to ‘hit’. But the phrase se le ou se la taper is an informal way to gossip about sexual relationships. It’s a more slangy and slightly ruder alternative to the classic coucher – to sleep with someone.

Tu crois qu’il se l’est tapée ? – Do you think he had sex with her? Si seulement je pouvais me le taper ! If only I could take him to bed!

Pécho – making out. Pécho is verlan (reversing the order of syllables in a word) of choper which means ‘to grab’ or ‘catch’. This phrase can mean different things (find out more here), and one of them is ‘making out’ or ‘hooking up’.

On s’est pécho – We made out.

Smacker – to kiss (without the tongue). Although ‘to smack’ actually means slapping someone in English, in French it can be used to describe ‘un smack’, a kiss where only the lips touched (as opposed to the French kiss) and the verb ‘smacker’ derives from it. Il m’a smacké ! – He kissed me!

Séduire – to seduce. The ultimate goal is to seduce someone when you’re flirting. Séduire is now slightly old-fashioned and it’s often used in a more metaphorical sense such as consumers or voters being ‘seduced’ by a brand or a politician, but you can also use it in a romantic situation.

Elle cherche à me séduire – She’s trying to seduce me. 

Here are some key phrases to ask someone out: 

Prendre un verre – To have a drink. 

Ça te dit d’aller prendre un verre ? – Would you fancy having a drink?

Boire un coup – Grab a drink (informal) 

Tu veux qu’on aille boire un coup ? – Do you want to go get a drink? 

Tu veux boire quoi ? – What do want to drink?

Manger un bout – grabbing something to eat. Here’s an informal way to ask somebody to have dinner with you. On va manger un bout ? – Let’s go eat something?

Here are some phrases to ask for someone’s number:

Je peux prendre ton 06 ? – In France, cell phone numbers start with 06, so it’s an informal way to ask someone his or her number.  

C’est quoi ton numéro ? – What’s your number?

Je peux avoir ton numéro de portable ? – Can I get your cell phone number?

If you feel like tackling online dating in France, check out our guide

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LEARNING FRENCH

The French TV series, radio shows and podcasts that will boost your language skills

Listening to French radio or podcasts or watching TV shows in French is a well known route to improving language skills. So we asked our readers to spell out a few of their favourites.

The French TV series, radio shows and podcasts that will boost your language skills

News programmes, quizzes and culinary reality show Top Chef were among the must-watch French TV shows for anyone keen to improve their language skills, while talk radio and local stations were also top tips from readers of The Local in response to a recent questionnaire.

Streaming video on demand services or DVDs were also among the recommendations, thanks to the ease with which programmes could be rewound and replayed. 

But the most common advice was to make liberal use of subtitles.

News channel France 24 was recommended by reader Seb Rocco, from Montpellier, who suggested that French learners could, “listen in French with English subtitles, or in English with French subtitles”.

Patricia Hobbs, from Lot-et-Garonne, suggested watching French news programmes with French subtitles, going so far as to say “in fact anything with subtitles in French”, to be able to match the sound to the spelling.

As well as M6’s Top Chef, the hugely popular comedy drama Dix Pour Cent, available on Netflix, was recommended for its help developing – ahem – more colloquial French, for which the Canal Plus series La Flamme also got a nod. 

Blood of the Vine on Amazon Prime, Arte TV’s 3x Manon and another Netflix series, Family Business, also got honourable mentions in our survey for helping French learners develop their language skills.

“DVDs with multilingual soundtracks are your friend,” Mike Gibb, who divides his time between Paris and London, wrote. “Play them in French, and if there are sections you don’t get, you can replay them a few times … and the English soundtrack is always there to give extra hints. 

“Most classic films, in black and white, or [from the] golden age of Hollywood will come with multiple soundtracks by default. For the rest, buy English-language originals from amazon.fr to find the versions with French dubbing.”

New Yorker John Hart added: “I like watching TV and movies that have been dubbed into french. Dubbed dialogue is often clearer, and sometimes simpler, than in the original language. Netflix is a great resource for this.”

Local radio stations were also highlighted as great resources for language learners. “[It’s] great to get a feeling of your region, the dialect, and of course news about events, recipes et cetera,” Dora Biloux, who lives in the southwest Occitanie region told us. “Learn the language and get information at the same time.”

She also recommended full immersion in French TV. “Ditch your dish and go for full on French TV – maybe with a package of some english language series, to ease the initial pain.”

And she – wisely – suggested listening to audiobooks. “Get an audiobook in a French translation of an English book that you know well.”

Other readers recommended France Inter radio, and news and talk radio in general.

As for podcasts, recommendations ranged from dedicated educational French language services to RFI’s “Journal Monde” and “Journal en Français Facile”, France Culture’s “Le Pourquoi du Comment: Économie et Social” and “La Question du Jour”, and Bababam’s “Maintenant Vous Savez”, France Inter’s ‘Popopop’ and ‘Autant en emporte l’histoire’, France Culture’s ‘Les Pieds sur Terre’, and Bababam’s ‘Home(icides)’ True Crime.

Keep an eye out for “Talking France,” The Local’s podcast that will be back up with new episodes starting at the end of May. We’ll help you learn some French!

Got any of your own recommendations? Tell us in the comments below, or send an email to [email protected]

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