Dating in France can be a daunting experience for those who are not familiar with the local culture and customs. If you’ve ever dreamed about coming to France and meeting that special someone, I can tell you that it can happen.
Single people often choose to come to France to experience a different culture and way of life than their own. With a little knowledge and understanding of the local dating scene, it can be a fun and enjoyable experience.
French dating culture is quite different from that in the UK and USA, in that the usual “signposts” are a bit different. So let’s get to my top tips about dating and relationships in France, shall we? Allons-y!
1. There is no word for dating in French.
One of the interesting quirks about dating in France is that there is no word for “dating” in French. The closest equivalent would be “sortir ensemble” meaning “going out together”.
If there is no French word for “dating”, this is because it is not a relationship phase that goes on for very long. People tend to decide rather quickly if they want to pursue the relationship or not.
2. There is no “Dating Code”.
Unlike some countries, there is no specific “dating code” in France such “after 3 dates, you must sleep together”, or “after 6 months you are a couple”.
French people do go on dates (“rendez-vous“), but there are no particular rulebook to follow. Indeed, the French can go from 1-2 dates to a full-on relationship immediately.
3. People tend to meet through friends and family.
Newcomers to France often complain about how difficult it is to make friends here. This is because the French usually keep to a strong circle of friends from school and university and to spend a lot of time socializing with them.
Dating often takes place through introductions made through this circle of friends, which can be annoyingly hard to break into.
It is becoming more commonplace however for people in France to use dating apps and websites to meet potential partners. There isn’t any particular stigma meeting this way, as more and more people sign up.
4. Don’t stress about getting ready to go on a date.
While French style is emulated the world over, the key rule is to not to go overboard with caked on makeup and hair. The French like to make an effort with their appearance for a date, with nice clothing and doing their hair, but the rule is to not look like you tried too hard.
In addition, in France, it is considered polite to arrive on time for a date. Being late is seen as a sign of disrespect and lack of interest. You can read more about French dining etiquette here.
5. It is important to make the situation clear.
In France, it is considered important to be honest and upfront about one’s feelings and intentions in a relationship, without wasting too much of the other person’s time. If the other person is looking for something casual, both parties should say so upfront.
6. Casual friends can go out together, without it being a date.
It isn’t unusual in France for two people of the opposite sex to enjoy dining together. This is the case even if one person is single and the other is married or in a relationship. The intentions on both sides are assumed to be clear.
Monogamy is taken seriously in France, however seeing multiple people is not seen as a “moral” issue. (For example, many a French politician has been known to openly have an affair and still get reelected.)
7. Embrace the art of flirting.
The French generally embrace the art of flirting, and it is not necessarily always with a romantic intent. Sometimes it is just light flirting among friends, and usually involves a play or humor and wit that is not meant to be taken too seriously.
Just as in other languages, there are good pick-up lines in French and plenty of bad ones. Many French people see flirting as a harmless game even if the other person is in a relationship, as they assume the intentions are clear on both sides.
If you are not clear on the intent, it is best to gently point out your status and and check their response.
8. Most dates are rather casual.
Many French people prefer to have long, leisurely meals when they go on dates. This can involve spending several hours at a restaurant, enjoying multiple courses and engaging in lengthy conversation.
First dates are usually in public places, such as restaurants, bars, and cafes. It is also common for couples to go to the cinema or to go for a walk in the park.
French people are known for their love of wine, and it is common to order a bottle of wine to share during a date. However, remember that drinking in excess is frowned upon and considered quite unattractive in France.
9. Either person can pay the bill on a date.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules of who should pay on a first date, but in general in heterosexual couples, the man will usually offer to pay. But indeed you can split the bill if it makes you feel more comfortable or pick up the full tab yourself.
10. There are no rules to the first kiss.
The typical French greeting, on a date or otherwise, involves 2 cheek kisses when you first meet and at the end of the date. However, it is not frowned upon for French people to be physically affectionate on a first date if both partners consent.
Generally, the French are affectionate with their partners in public, even amongst a group of friends or family. This can include holding hands, kissing, and hugging.
11. Enjoy making love.
French people tend to be more forward and direct in their approach to dating compared to some other cultures. They may be more open to physical intimacy earlier in the relationship than in other cultures, long before any “I love you’s” are exchanged.
Unlike many Anglo-Saxon countries, in France, it is not necessary to “hold out to the 3rd date” to become intimate with someone.
As such, there is no stigma attached to making love on a 1st date. The couple can choose to or not, either way, it is their individual choice as well as as a couple.
☞ READ MORE: Best French romantic love poems
12. There is no conversation when you become exclusive.
Interestingly, French people don’t usually have an in-depth conversation when they decide to go exclusive or become a couple.
In general, there is not a deep exploratory “talk” about one’s feelings, it is a bit more casual where it is assumed that you enjoy spending time together and getting to know one another.
Rather, after a few weeks of dating, it is assumed that they are exclusive unless one of the two says otherwise. But as noted above, it is important to be clear if you don’t consider yourself to be in an exclusive relationship.
13. If they are interested in you, the French will show it.
As there is no particular dating code, there are usually no “game-playing” where someone pretends to be uninterested. If your French date is interested in you, they will likely show it. And if they are too busy to call, they were likely not that interested to begin with.
14. Meeting the other person’s friends and family is a big deal.
A particularly big step in relationships in France is being introduced into your partner’s friends’ circle.
While it is always a big deal to meet the family after dating for a while, there is a particular significance to meeting your partner’s closest friends and starting to move within that friends’ circle. This can involve attending social events and gatherings, and generally hanging out together.
15. It is typical to go away on a weekend together.
In France, it is not unusual for couples (new or established) to go on weekend getaways or even longer vacations together. This can be a great way to spend quality time together and to explore new places and experiences.
It is also a great way to find out how your partner reacts to situations outside the usual day-to-day routine.
16. Giving gifts doesn’t have to go overboard.
In France, it is common for couples to celebrate special occasions, such as anniversaries and Valentine’s Day with low-key personal gifts rather than large extravagant gestures.
This can include giving flowers, chocolates, writing a romantic song, or other tokens of affection, rather than a flashy piece of jewellery (which you may want to pick out together anyway).
17. Living together can happen quickly.
In big cities, especially with the stress of commuting to work, etc. it is not usual for couples to spend more time at one of the partner’s house than the other and practically move in.
With any formal discussion, your French partner may move in 2-3 days a week bringing their stuff over and even doing laundry.
There is likely to be a definitive conversation however between the couple before “officially moving in” since that can involve letting go of a rental lease, etc. (This is especially the case if living in Paris, where it is very difficult to find an apartment.)
18. Couples often keep in touch with their exes.
In France, don’t be surprised if your partner and their ex still travel within the same circles. Because many French people meet people through their friends, it is generally accepted by all to continue in those circles as it would be awkward to cut things off.
If it is a good group of friends, it isn’t all that unusual to find a weekend getaway where you may be with your partner, their ex and the ex’s new partner all amongst a big social group. C’est la vie!
19. There is no rush to get married.
Most French people these days choose to live together before marriage, and even form a family with children. Statistics show that the average age of a person getting married in France is 35.8 years old.
For those French people reluctant to tie the knot but still form a family, the legal union known as a PACS is very popular. It stands for “Pacte civil de solidarité”.
It is a civil union with less rights and legal protections than marriage and is easier to dissolve. That being said, the French wedding traditions are still going quite strong and if you want that big château wedding, go for it!
20. Dating and Relationship vocabulary in French.
And finally, if you are interested in dating and pursuing a relationship in France, here are some French vocabulary words which will help you on your adventure:
|French Phrases||English Translations|
|Un rendez-vous||a date|
|Une relation amoureuse||a romantic relationship|
|Mon/ma partenaire||my partner|
|Tomber amoureux/se||to fall in love|
|Sortir avec quelqu’un||to go out with someone|
|Draguer quelqu’un||to try to pick-up someone|
|Un(e) petit(e) ami(e)||a boyfriend/girlfriend|
|La vie de couple||being in a relationship|
You can also find the most popular French terms of endearment here.
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read some French romantic quotes about love. A bientôt!