Five things they don’t tell you... about hanky panky in France

Is French romance really full of dangerous liaisons and the legendary ‘cinq à sept’?

France - the most romantic country in the world!
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1. Le couple

The concept of dating is not really current in France.

You hang out with someone, you talk to them a bit, have some laughs, maybe get a bit pie-eyed together, indulge in some skin-on-skin action and that is it, you are a couple.

It’s all cool. There’s no need to spell it out.

Et voilà!

2. L’amour

However exciting or humdrum their private lives might be, French people can give the impression that they are having illicit liaisons with a variety of amazing lovers, and that this is tout à fait normal – even if most people prefer the comforts of hot toast at home.

On peut rêver!

Read also: ‘How to think like a French person and speak better French’

3. Le topless

A woman removing her bikini top on a beach does not cause the slightest stir but a chap with his kegs off is likely to cause all sorts of protest.

It just is not done.

Not unless it is a nudist beach, in which case everything is allowed to dangle free...

On est libre!

4. Le cinq à sept

This cherished French fantasy involves leaving the office untroubled by traffic or school runs in order to meet one’s lover/mistress at 17:00 in an elegant but raffish appartement for two hours of recreation before arriving home refreshed and reinvigorated, just in time for apéros with the faithful spouse and offspring.

Mon oeil!

5. L’infidelité

In theory, the French accept that casual infidelity is just part of life’s rich tapestry – until the President of France does it to you [François Hollande], and you are a prominent journalist, in which case you immediately check into a psychiatric unit and write a salacious kiss-and-tell.

Quel drame!

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