Posted by: ghostdawg2 | September 5, 2009

How you can be a Femme Fatale (Extracted from What French Women Know About Love, Sex And Other Matters Of The Heart ) By Debra Ollivier / 03 September 2009

French womenVive la France: Seduction is the lifeblood that beats at the core of French society

What gives French women their allure?

According to writer DEBRA OLLIVIER, who married a Frenchman and lived in Paris for ten years, it’s their different approach to life – and views on love and sex. Here, she explains what French women know that we ought to…


Not long ago, I attended a dinner party in Paris and sat among a group of French women who all looked like they’d just engaged in illicit and wonderful things with their partners.

Wine glasses clinked as they laughed, threw back their heads and talked about men. They were not commiserating about men – no whiff of disgruntlement or frustration filled the air. Rather, they seemed to share a love and appreciation for members of the opposite sex. Take note, there is no popular vernacular expression in French for ‘the opposite sex’ that bears the same weight as in English.

In France there is no war of the sexes going on. French men and women actually want to be together. They enjoy their mutual company. They spar. They debate. They flirt.

Here’s what a French woman would tell you: a man is not a woman. He cannot think like you. He cannot ‘process’ like you. So don’t try to make him like you. And don’t have any expectation that he might behave like you.

When British women aren’t busy trying to change ourselves, we’re often busy trying to change our men. The French attitude is why fight when you can finesse? Why try to modify your mate’s behaviour when this futile exercise generally causes stresses?

Audrey Tautou

Temptress: In the French film Priceless, Audrey Tautou seduces a number of rich men using her feminine charms


Flirtation is not just alive and well in France. It is the lifeblood that beats at the core of French society. Young women flirt. Older women flirt. Feminists flirt. French women not only enjoy flirtation, they expect it.

The hint of sexuality that infuses flirtation is not perceived as a threat; on the contrary, it’s perceived as a necessary expression of difference.

To quote academic Alain Giami, who has researched the different French and American attitudes to sex: ‘The French do not consider flirtation and seduction as a direct sexual approach, and flirtation does not necessarily lead to intercourse.’


I met Sandrine, a 13-year-old girl, in the Buttes Chaumont Park in Paris. She was enamoured of a boy named Pierre. After a short conversation about Pierre’s abundant qualities (he could, it turns out, recite poems in Gaelic), Sandrine picked a flower and started pulling off its petals.

Carla Bruni

Love men: French First Lady Carla Bruni dotes on her husband President Nicholas Sarkozy

Rather than the familiar refrain ‘He loves me, he loves me not’, Sandrine intoned: ‘He loves me a little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all’ (Il m’aime un peu, beaucoup, passionnement, la folie, pas du tout).

Who knew?

Almost one in three French women would wear sexy underwear for their men. But only one in ten British women would do so, according to a survey by La Redoute

This is how French girls have been thinking about love for ever. While British girls are stuck in the absolutes of total love or utter rejection, the French girl is already primed to think in nuances. While we lust after happy endings and closure, they’re comfortable with emotional subtleties and ambiguity.

French women generally hold their cards close at hand. They don’t wear their hearts on their shirtsleeves and won’t tell Oprah their life story in five minutes. They won’t even tell you where they bought their skirt on sale, let alone who they are sleeping with. French women have an enormous sense of personal boundaries. There is a willingness here, tres francais, to contemplate or accept an experience that doesn’t necessarily go anywhere – but which is still an essential and necessary part of love, sex and being human.

This is categorically Not OK in our culture. Your friends would not get it. Your mother would not approve.

In fact, the French would not tell their friends or mothers. They love their secrets. They love the whole smoky, ambiguous, mysterious cargo of them. French women know that having an aura about them of something secret is sexy.

 Catherine Deneuve

Mysterious: Catherine Deneuve stars as a frigid young housewife who decides to spend her midweek afternoons as a prostitute in the film Belle de jour


In France, the rules that are respected are not those written down. They’re the unspoken ones that are learned by living in a culture where protocol is upheld by tradition.

Our rules are spelled out. And we obey them. We stand in lines. We signal changing lanes.

We worship all that self-help advice and play by the book (we believe in the book).

But when rules start to impinge on our sense of personal freedom, so most French women would be inclined to tell you – or when rules reinforce social conventions that are not life-affirming or conducive to passion – there is a problem.

If a French woman wants to sleep with a man the first time they go out – if she feels passion for the man – she will. Pourquoi pas? There is no guilt or shame associated with this.


The French don’t go for marriage in such a big way these days.

More than 50 per cent of French women choose cohabitation over marriage. Where we embrace the institution of marriage, the French now increasingly question the social conventions at its core. Many French see the custom as part of a bourgeois culture with dusty overtones.

The French tend to ‘revolt’ against the established-institution of marriage. It does not belong in the world of Happily Ever After; rather, it belongs squarely in the middle of real life, with all its complexities and contradictions, its tensions, compromises and unresolved longings.

This does not mean all the French have affairs. In the real world, adultery creates pyrotechnics in French relationships, like it does in other relationships, and it’s one of the top reasons for divorce.

But the French are more at ease with the notion that one person can’t easily satisfy a lifetime of personal desire. You’d be hard-pressed to find a French person who doesn’t know someone with a long-standing lover whose presence is no secret.

 Brigitte Bardot

Svelte: Brigitte Bardot maintains the French standard of a slim figure


WHILE we grow old trying desperately to whip ourselves into shape and make ourselves look younger, French women are generally enjoying their lives of accrued sensuality and allure.

There remains in France the enduring bias that women are beautiful when they’ve accrued a knowingness from age and experience.

Most French women aren’t overly concerned about pining away to stay young because many are too busy enjoying being grown-ups. Because the culture is not youth-obsessed, French grown-ups are still active participants in the seductions and pleasures of French life.

There is less concern about ‘fixing’ Mother Nature or human nature, because you don’t ‘fix’ yourself in France – you cultivate yourself.

AUDREY TAUTOUBreaking the rules: Audrey Tautou stars as French icon, Gabrielle Coco Chanel


The French are professional sensualists. They understand that the universe will not implode without their constant attention so they take time to enjoy themselves; they don’t multi-task (another word that doesn’t exist in French); they don’t dine with Bluetooths strapped on their ears.

They know about essential things: delicious fresh food, fabulous sexual encounters, wonderful wines.

That’s why everything seems sexier in France. French women know that life is about the act of enjoying essential pleasures.


French women like to be ‘bien dans sa peau’ – at ease in their own skin – a state of grace that is universally admired about them. They’re comfortable in their own ‘self’.

But here we come to a paradox about French women. For there is one standard that French women respect with an almost ecclesiastical rigor and it’s a driving force behind all that sexy, French svelteness.

What’s the real reason French women don’t get fat? Because it is not appropriate to be fat in France. Be prepared to be told to hold off on the croissants by everyone who sees you’ve put on a few pounds.

The real secret is not what French women eat but how they get their wills of steel, the ability to reject the emotional comforts of food and just say Non! to that chocolate eclair.

Extracted from What French Women Know About Love, Sex And Other Matters Of The Heart, by Debra Ollivier, published today by Piatkus
Read more:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: