5 Things to Know about Parisian Men
If there is one thing that has been debated over and over on the internet, it is that je-ne-sais-quoi that Parisian women and men are known to have. Everyone seems to agree that French people do it better – or at least do it fairly differently.
If French women’s lifestyles are at the center of many people’s fantasies (think Farida Khelfa, Catherine Deneuve, Ines de la Fressange, Leila Bekhti), they tend to be romanticized a lot, which almost always erases some of the incredible diversity of French women.
Clichés on the French art de vivre
The past few years have seen a boom of brands riding the worldwide interest for the French art de vivre: think Jeanne Damas and her brand Rouje, Simon Porte Jacquemus or Sabrina Socol.
These brands sell a univocal image of an ethereal and fantasized image of the French woman and the French man, participating in building up the misconceptions about French people.
These misconceptions are not easy to debunk, because they are quite often perpetuated by French people themselves, who build their national pride on some of them. They also have a particular pleasure in actively trying to fit in the clichés, which makes the relation between French people and their fantasized selves quite intricate.
As a French woman myself, I have to admit I am often amused by the amount of clichés you can encounter on the internet if you look for a description of what constitutes the essence of French people.
What makes Parisian men unique
Now, of course, some of these clichés are true: no smoke without fire, or as we say, pas de fumée sans feu! Yes, French men smoke more than other nationalities and sitting at a café’s terrace for hours while drinking red wine is of course part of their lifestyle.
This vision is, however, only a fraction of the true of what make Parisian men unique.
You also have to bear in mind that behind the Parisian man lies socio-economic realities that are incredibly diverse and that cannot be generalized.
This article hence is not a sociological analysis of all Parisian men – but rather me confronting the clichés I often hear about French men to the men coming from the social environment which I know and belong to. This social environment only represents a fraction of Parisian men: well-off enough to live in center Paris, and bourgeois bohème.
In this article, I will list the 5 most important things you need to know about Parisian Men. It is famous French writer Sacha Guitry who said that “Being Parisian does not mean being born in Paris, it means having reborn there”.
Thus, this article will highlight some of the cultural particularities that are crystallized in Paris, and influence the behaviors of some men who fall in love there – with another individual or with the city.
1. They tend to prefer natural women
It is absolutely true that Paris’ idea of a beautiful woman is a woman considered ‘natural’. Natural means fresh and clean without trying to be spectacular: extremely well-tailored clothing, messy hair and a glowy face.
Caroline de Maigret is an excellent example of the woman considered beautiful by French standards. Her long, messy hair, her glowy skin and her laid back yet very elegant looks have made her famous for being quintessentially Parisian.
However, be careful: people often make a shortcut about Parisian men: they think that because they tend to prefer natural woman, that makes them less attached to looks.
To my mind, this is absolutely false. Parisian men do not pay less attention to looks, they just have a slightly different idea of what they consider beautiful.
Preferring natural women does not make it easier on women either: they are still expected to meet a beauty standard, however they are also expected to conceal their efforts to look easy-going and natural.
2. They have a very French way of dating
You may have heard that in France, we do not date like in other cultures (specifically, we do not date like Americans). Flirting and dating here is indeed way less codified that in the United States.
There is no such thing as a set of rules of what you are supposed to do during the first date, second date, third date.
Parisian men will typically ask you out to have coffee in the middle day: it not a date neither is it a casual hang out: it is just you and him, at a terrace, enjoying each other’s company.
That does not mean Parisian men are less prone to commitment – they just consider these things come naturally, without necessarily having to define the relationship with a formal talk. They are tend to be much more instinctive.
However, a cliché I have encountered many times is saying that Parisian men have a more casual way of dating than other men. I think this is absolutely false.
Indeed, ‘Netflix and Chill’ culture is virtually inexistent here. When going out, Parisian men pay immense attention to the value of the moment you are about to spend together.
They will often not suggest a fancy restaurant, but maybe a coffee in their favorite coffee shop (never ever Starbucks). Or if they invite you over, they will cook a nice dinner for you.
3. They love to enjoy the simple things
This is somehow linked to what I was telling you just above about Parisian men paying immense attention to the moment you spend together.
They indeed pay attention to a lot of little details of their daily life: what they eat, where they eat, which wine they drink, if their coffee is good, what path they take to go to work to give them the most enchanting view of streets they see everyday.
This is where, in my sense, lies their sophistication: not that much in the degree of fanciness of their clothes or food, but rather in the attention they pay to them.
The idea of an ideal evening for a Parisian man during spring is often jeans and t-shirts, a good bottle of fine, sitting on their favorite spot on the banks of the seine and watching the sun set while listening to music.
On a winter’s evening, spending six hours at a café’s terrace while debating intellectual and trivial thing with the same amount of attention.
The essence of the Parisian men’s lifestyle is not exactly what they do (because they do so many different things), but rather the attention they pay to it.
4. They are looking for partners in crime
I am not talking only of dating here, but also about all kind of human relationships. Parisian men value dense minds who they will be able to enjoy everything with – whether going out to dance, quickly running to the supermarket to get humus and olives or spending countless hours debating.
This means that they tend to appreciate people who are both complex individuals but also able to appreciate the simplest things from daily life (see above), but also add their own perspective to them.
What does that change in your daily interactions with them, will you ask me?
Well, if you are willing to bond with a Parisian man (whether romantically or platonically), you have to ask yourself: what makes the perspective you have on the world unique? And do you embody this perception in your daily life? What happened today that was a meaningful or beautiful moment to share?
5. Culture is part of their lifestyle
Once again, bear in mind that I am talking about a specific social environment – but I think that culture is intrinsically linked to the Parisian man’s lifestyle. Paris is one of the most famous cultural capitals of the world, and music, museums, cinema, photography and literature infuse and irrigate the city in a lot of ways.
It would be false to tell you that all Parisian men go to visit exhibitions twice a week, but I think they do much more often than the average.
Cinema in particular is a very important part of Parisian men’s lives, and a lot of Parisians who can afford it have an UCG-illimité card: a card that allows you to go to the movies as many times as you want.
They are all very proud of their likes and dislikes, and often put more energy into passionately hating certain things that on discovering new things they might like. And, of course, you sure know that Parisian men can get snobbish.
It is part of their character, and they often take pride in it: see Benjamin Biolay (a very Parisian French singer who is considered an icon in France) famous cover of Je suis snob (I am snobbish), written by Boris Vian (a very famous French writer).
Culture is very important in French identity, and most museums are free for under 26 year-old French people.
Some French schools take children to museums from a very early age – culture is everywhere and even though not everyone is familiar with every aspect, most Parisians have a sense of awareness about the importance of confronting yourself to cultural objects – because it helps them think and develop their sensitivity.
I could go on and on about this topic but it is time for me to close this article. I hope this article gave you a good overview of some cultural specificities of Parisian men.
As you may have understood, being Parisian is not so much about what we do but rather on how we look at what we do, our perspective on life.
I think this is what Sacha Guitry meant when he wrote the sentence that I shared with you at the start of this article: “Being Parisian does not mean being born in Paris, it means being reborn there”.
To my mind, what he means by being “reborn” in Paris is a matter of finding a fresh, curious about everything, carefree yet stable perspective. And working relentlessly to nurture this perspective and look at life through this lens.
Being Parisian is in the end about nurturing – nurturing your ability to grow and inhabit the world in the most beautiful and meaningful manner possible, and applying this way of inhabiting the world to your dwelling in Paris.
It is in that sense that almost anyone can have a Parisian spirit, and that some famous Parisian icons are not French – Jane Birkin being the most famous example.
I hope this article was enlightening to help you understand better what makes French men and French culture so special.
If you want to discover the city that crystallizes all these particularities, local Parisians are giving free tours of their neighborhoods in Paris.
It can be the perfect way to learn to see the city through their eyes, and discover hidden gems in the neighborhoods you find most fascinating. If you are curious about these free tours or willing to book one, you can find more information by clicking here.
And if you want to discover a taste of Paris by discovering its cultural wonders, you can check out 10 French films you need to see, or the 10 artworks to hunt down in Paris. And if you are more curious about what makes Parisian people unique, you can read more about the Parisian mindset.