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Guide to dating in France

PUBLISHED: 13:43 11 February 2019

There are many ways to meet a new partner in France © pseudopixels Getty Images

There are many ways to meet a new partner in France © pseudopixels Getty Images

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With online dating apps and plenty of social events, finding love in France has never been so easy – or fun. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we look at the online and offline options available when it comes to dating in France

It is often said that the French don’t date, but that’s not true. They simply don’t put a label on it, and generally keep it all pretty low-key and under wraps until deciding that a relationship is serious, at which point they’ll introduce friends and family to their ‘copain’ or ‘copine’.

Another important cultural difference to bear in mind if dipping a toe into romance in France is that French people love flirting. It’s in their DNA. It pays to keep this in mind in your own liaisons, both when interpreting the signs of potential partners and how others may interpret your behaviour. After all, you don’t want to invite someone up for coffee when all they’re thinking of is a quick espresso after work. So, how exactly do you go about it all?

FINDING LOVE OFFLINE

If you want to find a partner in France without the help of dating websites, the best advice is to develop a social life, because most French singletons seek potential partners through group activities or introductions by friends rather than chatting up someone in a bar. (There is even a dating app that has picked up on this softer approach – members of meetic.fr are invited to go along to themed activities, see below.) Playing a sport, joining a choir, or even simply getting involved in a local organisation would all help to increase the odds of romance. Inevitably, some relationships develop in the workplace, however it is not as common as in the UK, most likely because the French workplace is more formal and colleagues mix less outside work hours. In France, there is more of a differentiation between work life and private life, including for single people (known as célibataires).

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FINDING LOVE ONLINE

Internet dating is now an accepted way to meet a romantic partner in France, for all ages and backgrounds, and there are numerous sites to choose from:

meetic

Despite regular newcomers entering the fray, meetic remains the most popular dating website in France, boosted no doubt by regular advertising campaigns. The site is for all ages and operates by inviting users to browse profiles and make their own choices. Arguably more a site for those looking for fun dates and playing the field, it has however clocked up more than six million couples. Two interesting options include the chance to meet potential partners further afield (via dedicated ‘Europe’ and ‘International’ sections)and an ‘Events’ section inviting users to group activities such as workshops or pasta evenings. meetic affinity A meetic spin-off, meetic affinity is aimed at those looking for a lasting relationship. Users complete a personality test comprising 71 criteria that evaluates key areas such as your outlook on life, relationship values, how you feel about money and family. The site offers matches with members sharing similar ideals.

eDarling

Essentially targeting 30-40 year olds, this site works by using algorithms to match potential partners in line with responses to a comprehensive personality test. A few matches are suggested each day and you can send five questions as a starter to each proposed profile.

Elite Rencontre

From the same German parent company as eDarling, Elite Rencontre in France is pitched as the thinking person’s dating site, targeting lovelorn high-fliers, those in management level positions or business owners, (les cadres in French). Here again, algorithms work on detailed personality tests to offer seven matches per day (or a further 20 for premium members). The Elite Rencontre profile questionnaires evaluate five core dimensions – your organisational skills, relational skills, your flexibility, sociability and finally your sensitivity. In other words, think management psychoanalytical testing!

DisonsDemain

A recent launch, again an offshoot from meetic, targeting the over 50s. Launched last year, with the appealing strapline ‘the dating site for young people over 50’, it’s early days to see whether French baby boomers are ready to adapt to online romance, but a gently humorous TV ad continues to promote the site and could seduce older célibataires to give it a go.

Happn

Created by a French team of innovators, Happn reflects the country’s culture by adding a touch of romance and chance to online dating. Using clever technology, it informs registered members every time they cross paths with another person signed up to the site. So, if someone catches your eye in a bookshop or at the train station, for example, and they are also on Happn hoping to meet that someone special, then the application will send you a match indicating exactly where and when your paths crossed.

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ONLINE-OFFLINE MIX

For those who prefer the blurred lines of meeting and dating and online and offline, why not try the option of using sites that are more about meeting up in groups, usually for an activity? These can be a great way to build a social life and meet people who enjoy similar pastimes, and of course they just might also lead to romance.

OnVaSortir!

Launched in 2005, this ‘social friend’ website invites people living throughout France to suggest and organise group events and activities in their local area. Users search according to their interests and geographical position and can sign up for outings that appeal to them.

Meetup

An international website with a dedicated site in France, Meetup operates along similar lines to OnVaSortir! but with greater emphasis on meeting others with shared interests.

RULES OF PLAY

• It’s all in the eyes and ‘les bises’ – lingering looks and lingering lips indicate interest. Be careful not to give off the wrong signal accidentally!

• Men are still expected to do the chasing in France, although women can give plenty of encouragement…

• Initial invitations are likely to involve doing something together during the daytime, and are often cultural – for example, a visit to an exhibition – so don’t be disappointed if it’s not a candlelit dinner for two on the first date.

• French people in general don’t beat about the bush. If you like someone, feel free to tell them straight up because they won’t necessarily get the more subtle inverted compliments favoured by the British.

• Similarly, if you aren’t attracted to someone, or want to finish a relationship, it’s better to tell the person directly rather than hope they guess the situation from your repeated silence or non-availability. The flipside of the straight-talking French is that they can also take it straight, even rejection.

• Don’t forget your manners. Ignoring an unwanted invitation in the hope that an admirer will quietly understand is not an option in France. You’ll get a reputation for being arrogant and rude, rather than being considered as someone who wants to let would-be suitors down gently.

• And finally, don’t kiss on the lips unless you’re prepared to take it further. In France, you seal it with a kiss!

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