La Belle Vie: How to speak 'pure' French and what to expect when dating in France

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected] • 10 Feb, 2023 Updated Fri 10 Feb 2023 09:39 CEST
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Roses laid near Notre-Dame-de Paris Cathedral (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP)

From the so-called guardians of the French language to learning the right lingo for dating and an age-old battle over what a pastries, this week's La Belle Vie newsletter offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like a French person.


La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, manners to films. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences in “My account”.

This week, France's famed 'language guardian' - the Académie Française - will induct a new member, and for the first time it will be someone who has never published in French. Peruvian novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, has written throughout his career in Spanish. 

If you have never heard of France's Académie Française, you may have heard of some of the language-related controversies they've waded into over the years. They were established under King Louis XIII in 1635, and the Académie seeks to guard "pure" French, which recently has focused a lot on protecting it from English. From protesting the use of English-sounding brand names, like the budget trainline Ouigo (pronounded "We Go"), there are plenty of fascinating parts of the Académie Franç the fact that members are known as ‘the Immortals’.

Swords, immortality and wifi: Five things to know about the Academie française


While many members of the Académie would have you believe that France is one of the world's most beautiful and romantic languages on Earth, there are certainly some parts of it that are less elegant. This the language that you will hear at the airport next to someone who just missed their connecting flight, biking through Paris during rush hour, or during a sporting event when things are not going too well for Les Bleus

As a foreigner, it can be tricky to judge just how offensive certain French swear words are though. While you might be tempted to test some of these words and phrases out, you should probably take some time to determine just how vulgar they really are.

What’s the worst possible insult you can use in French?

Even though the French love to curse, the French language has somehow maintained the stereotype of being the "language of love" over the years. This trope goes beyond just language - plenty of people buy into the idea that French people themselves are romantic, charming, seductive and just downright sexy.

While most people are aware that no label or stereotype can accurately describe an entire nation made up of unique individuals, The Local wanted to explore where this idea came from in the first place and how it has stuck around for so long.

Where does the ‘romantic, sexy French’ stereotype come from?

As Valentine's Day rolls around, many people dream of coming to Paris and going on the 'classic French date' (which they assume will involve a charming restaurant, candles, Champagne, maybe some soft tunes in the background).

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is not always the case. The reality is that dating in France is like dating in a lot of other countries - even if the romantic comedies might have you believing otherwise.

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

Just because dating in France might not be as ideal as the films make it out to be does not mean it isn't worthwhile. In these modern times, it is a lot easier too: French people happen to also be fans of dating apps.


Even if you are just visiting for a few days and want to have a fun night out, you can always download an app and see if anyone is looking to meet up.

Here are some tips to help you out.

From ONS to JTM: How to tackle online dating in France

Finally, as Valentine's Day makes everyone crave chocolate just a little more than usual, one of the best ways to satisfy that urge is by heading straight into your nearest boulangerie.

You can order a chocolate filled croissant, but beware. In some parts of the country people will fervently defend this pastry as a chocolatine. For others, it is to be called a pain au chocolat - plain and simple. This battle has been raging for centuries and even the story of how the two names evolved is heavily disputed. One thing is for certain though, it will be a tasty treat.

Daily dilemmas: Is it a pain au chocolat or a chocolatine?



Genevieve Mansfield 2023/02/10 09:39

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