Do you have a special French valentine in mind this year? Whether you’re already in a relationship with un français/une française or hoping to start one, you’ll want to check out our list of keys! How can you impress your French partner or crush? What will make them swoon? What should you avoid doing at all costs? Read on, l’amour vous attend!
By Sophia Millman
Le repas en amoureux
As you know, food is a very important part of French culture, and while the French love going to restaurants, they also appreciate a romantic dinner at home. To win over un français or une française, you should cook for them! Make something easy if you’re not confident: the French appreciate simple meals as well as complex ones. Looking for inspiration? Try one of our ten essential French dish recipes. But keep in mind that the French are pretty adventurous eaters so if you feel like making them pad thai or chili, go ahead! Just make sure your dish isn’t too spicy. Americans tend to eat spicier dishes than the French do, so don’t go overboard with the sriracha.
- It’s all about the bread: serve a French person a delicious baguette and you’re well on your way to winning his or her heart! And be careful: a stale or soggy baguette is a dealbreaker (💔)!
- Don’t overdo the cheese. Not all French people adore crazy cheeses, and some are skeptical of American dishes like macaroni and cheese. Ask your future soulmate whether they love a strong blue or prefer a fresh mozzarella before you begin cooking!
- Want to really impress your amoureux or amoureuse? Make a meal for the French parents! This may be intimidating, but your effort will definitely be appreciated. Just don’t overreact if they look at your dish and say, “Qu’est-ce que c’est ce bordel ?!” (“What the hell is this?!”). Sometimes the French have a funny way of displaying their affection.
L’art de la conversation : curiosité, écoute, improvisation
Of course, if you speak French, you can charm any French person with your foreign accent. But, if you don’t speak the language, try not to overuse cliché French interjections like, “oh la la” or “merde.” You won’t demonstrate that you appreciate the language and instead will come off as un con (a fool). One or two jokes in which you pretend to speak French might be funny, but they won’t carry you far. Instead, listen attentively, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to go with the flow of the conversation! The French love having debates about politics and other subjects that Americans tend to avoid. If the person you’re trying to win over brings up GameStop, don’t run away–share your opinion!
- Remember the NY Times article “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love”? Here’s the French version to inspire your conversations and find your one and only. Just be careful not to begin asking all 36 questions without clueing your crush in on the activity. Asking, “When did you last cry in front of another person?” out of the blue is a recipe for disaster 💔.
- Don’t speak about how much you earn or what you have bought recently. The French generally avoid talking about money. Don’t repeatedly refer to your Bugatti on the first date.
- Cultivate an interest in a topic such as French film, sports, or something zanier (a French petting zoo for nutria, perhaps?) so that you can show that you appreciate your paramour’s culture.
- Try discussing where you have traveled or where you would like to travel. This is almost always a fun and successful subject!
- Don’t put an abrupt end to a conversation. If you’ve made your French crush a meal (see above) you might be surprised to find that you’ve spent a few hours talking over dinner. The French can speak for hours à table, and your ability to keep up with the conversation will impress. Yawning, stretching, resting your head on your plate… these things should be avoided 💔.
- Don’t text or look at your phone during a conversation. Even if your mom is calling you with an urgent question about what to get you for your birthday, resist the urge to look at your phone.
S’habiller pour séduire
While not all French people are interested in fashion, your typical français appreciates a well put-together outfit. This means wearing clothes that are, first and foremost, the right size for you. Have you ever noticed that Americans tend to wear pants with legs that are too long? You won’t see this in France. That’s because the French understand the importance of good tailoring. To dress to impress (a French person), you want to avoid flashy logos, too many clashing colors, and over-accessorizing. Also, most French people will not go for someone who wears gym clothes 24/7. Yeah, we know it’s super comfortable and tempting, but those soccer pants (💔) have got to go.
- Bonne Gueule is a good French site for men’s fashion tips.
- Le Dressing Ideal is a good site to begin with if you’re looking for women’s fashion ideas.
- Wear a scarf! All French people do and, once you get in the habit of wearing scarves in winter, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one.
- Keep it simple! There’s no need to spend hours on your hair or makeup.
- Wear high-quality fabrics. As a general rule, spandex is a 💔.
- Take care of your shoes. Invest in good quality leather or other materials, and polish your shoes from time to time. “Polish your shoes? What is this, the 19th century?” you might be thinking. No, this is a thing in France!
Comprenez la culture française
One of the best ways to connect with someone is to find shared cultural interests. If you want to hit on an American, you could ask your wingman to make a “Have you met Ted?” joke for you or you could go for Joey’s classic, “Hey, how ya doin’?” But if you’re not familiar with French culture, you’ll have a harder time when you want to draguer (flirt). We suggest watching recent French TV shows or cult films to learn more about popular French culture. If you’re a music lover, you could also listen to recent French songs so you’ll be prepared to impress on a French karaoke date night! Finally, check out our article about the differences between dating in France and the US so that you don’t make any faux pas.
- Sign up for our “French-American Romance” workshop here! It’s open to all levels. Cross-cultural couples can learn to identify and minimize misunderstandings about important romantic topics such as dating, dealing with money, going on vacation and even child rearing.
- Check out Lauren Collins’ excellent memoir When in French: Love in a Second Language.
- Practice your French comprehension and learn more about French dating culture by listening to this sweet French podcast episode. It’s a conversation about love and sex between a grandmother and granddaughter. And if you’re a fan of French podcasts and need more suggestions, here’s a list of six other episodes about love!
Essential romantic vocabulary:
- Mon coeur: my love (literally “my heart”)
- Mon chéri, ma chérie: my darling
- Je t’aime: I love you
- Tomber amoureux / amoureuse: to fall in love
- S’embrasser: to kiss
- Un baiser, un bisou: a kiss
- Un copain/une copine: boyfriend/girlfriend
- Les fiançailles: an engagement
- Se fiancer: to get engaged
- La lune de miel: honeymoon
- Kiffer: to like/have a crush on someone
- Un rencard: a date
- Draguer: to flirt
- Sortir avec quelqu’un: to go out with someone
- Mon mec/ma meuf: informal ways to refer to your boyfriend/girlfriend
- Pécho: informal word for hook up