Paris Undressed: Dating, romance and intrigue in the city of love


When it comes to finding love in France, where do you even begin to look for a date? 

When I last returned from my annual writing trip to Paris I was bombarded with questions around whether I had been lucky in finding love. Unfortunately for me, I had not. Equally as fortunate, however, was the fact that it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Receiving a waiter’s phone number on the back of a coaster is one thing; acting on it is another.

Dating itself has never been high on my agenda in France, seemingly too preoccupied with falling in love all over again with their freshly baked baguettes.

Where does an expat go for a date around here?


Admittedly, as someone who loves dating and meeting new people, curiosity has recently got the better of me. How does an expat girl (or guy) go about finding a date in the city of love itself?

There’s online dating which works if you’re short of time or more of the shy type – but if sitting in a room filtering through profiles isn’t your cup of Mariage Frères, what are your other options? For the romantics amongst us absolutely nothing beats a chance encounter; idling over cheese at the local fromagerie as you both reach for a wedge of chaource at the same time – sigh.

Great (French) romantic expectations


But really – does this ever happen? Going on the amount of stories we hear about friends of friends who met their life partner waiting for a bus or walking across a pedestrian crossing, it must. Although in this situation not only do you need to be conscious that someone is even there in the first place (I am incredibly unobservant) there also, at some point, needs to be an exchange of glances, words and then, a date. In other words, you need to take a chance.

Giving love a shot

8240266534_21df3a9e0b_oIn today’s world when we are so busy and consumed by schedule, are we even open to giving love a chance? Maybe the key to romantic chance encounters is being open to them in the first place. It’s either that, or spending more time at the fromagerie.

While I’m willing to try both (one can never complain about having too much cheese), a girl simply can’t sit at a bus stop all day waiting for something to happen – so the hunt begins here.

Dating expats and romantics unite; it’s time to find love in Paris. Join me each month for tasty bites of dating, romance, relationships and love in France.

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Sarah Harrison

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  1. francois roland Dec 18, 2012 at 6:59 AM - Reply

    Well maybe I’ll have to come back here and commenting more as soon as I have a moment to do it! 🙂 The thing is my book “Being French!” (see my URL for more about it) addresses the topic in details and from my “Frenchman true insider” point of view.
    In a chapter titled “Having a rendez-vous” I dissipate a French/Anglo-Saxon classical misunderstanding, starting with the fact that the concept of “dating” hardly exist in France, the way Anglo-Saxon people envision it. Unless of course you step back to some France’s old times, going back to before WWII and just a little time after.

    French people don’t date, “ils sortent ensemble”. Maybe just read “Being French!” for more details on this subtle topic 🙂

  2. Sarah Harrison Jan 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM - Reply

    Hello Francois and thanks for your comment 🙂 Yes of course I agree with you but here in lies the problem! For expats living in France who are accustomed to dating, how do they go about meeting someone if their network or situation cannot support this? Paris Undressed will discuss this from a reflective angle and from the perspective of an Australian in Paris who has always enjoyed meeting people through dating. It will also explore the topics of romance and intrigue using what must be the world’s best backdrop: Paris. I hope you stay tuned and we’d love to see more comments and thoughts from you in the future columns! ~ Sarah

  3. francois roland Jan 2, 2013 at 8:31 PM - Reply

    Hello Sarah
    Don’t worry I’ll comment again, and btw I was even supposed to write for the columns of My French Life but I’m still waiting for news from Hannah about this. And I also responded to the Author Interview some weeks ago, so it should show up in these pages in a near future 🙂

    Well the question you ask about dating, shows how much it’s a whole philosophy of life at stake here. Because as I understand it, the dating process is about doing the right things at the right times checking all the proper little boxes to find out in the end if he is (or she is) “the one!”. And the thing is, from my French point of view, that there are no “shades of grey” in all this. Because in the end, it’s all about this big “black or white” result:: Matching for life or not. In my book (Being French!) I try to open the eyes of people about the fact that life is actually in shades of grey. Love is absolutely not something that you can plan to have in a definite span of coming times. People who engaged themselves in these organized dating processes (a new one when the previous failed, etc ..) could testify that it doesn’t work like that. Love always has been about serendipity and serendipity can never be scheduled!
    Plus I engage people to make a difference between actually living a “romance” or a love story (it’s the same for me) and having a sensual life. If the first decide to dodge your life trajectory for 10 years or more there is nothing you’ll be able to do about it. You can string dating after dating and find that you are still not in love with anyone, or worse you are but it’s not returned to you. The love feeling never resulted of a conscious choice. You discover it in you when it’s there, period. And the rarity of it results in the fact that the loved one has to discover the same inside him or her, for you!
    So now if real romance escapes you for 10 years, as it happens (it escapes some of us for life) what are you going to do? Renounce the bliss of the first pleasure on earth because your potential partner is not “the one”? How silly is that! And how unhealthy I would add (a whole chapter of Being French explains how sex is important for health and balance). Now here come the “shades of grey” that we French are seeing and allowing to exist in our lives. But hey, we are not really alone to have discovered these middle terms between sex life and pure romance. We’re not the inventers of terms like “fucking buddies” or “friends with benefit”, are we? And what about this famous phrase “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one your with”? Yes, it’s them: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young! Were they French? 🙂

  4. Robert Russell Apr 30, 2023 at 10:50 AM - Reply

    A column like this invites so much fun. My only romantic experience with a French woman was when I was just finished my studies, and it was characterized by both mutual enthusiasm and mutual confusion. Whether this was due to language or culture, I may never know, but my later French life experience was mostly accompanied by a romantic partner, so French romance was not about to happen. I cannot wait to see future editions, and judging from the above comments, the responses may expand beyond expectations. I hate to say it, but I would be disappointed if your adventures result in finding the true love of a lifetime and end the series.

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