The French Way

30 May, 2021
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Paris, the mother of fine dining. I’ve always admired the breathtaking craftsmanship when is comes to Michelin star experiences. Though I also love the French Brasseries.

Let me share with you some fun facts and what we can learn from the French way of Sex. laugh


According to Marilyn Yalom, a feminist scholars at Stanford University, “Love, for the French, is tied up with adultery.” Marriage back in the Middle Ages, as least in the upper classes, was considered a contract related to the exchange of rank and property. Love was, therefore, to be found outside the marriage, leading to the infamous French threesome: the husband, the wife, and the mistress. 

Studies show than Americans and French don't really differ regarding the rates of infidelity. Though, The French are "marathoners" with longer, and therefore fewer, affairs. Americans are considered "sprinters" with more variety but shorter trysts. 

Older French women are considered attractive, sexual beings. The likes of Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Fanny Ardant, and Isabelle Adjani are well in their 50's and desirable, self empowered, sex icons. As they should be...

A professor once assigned Woman Destroyed, by Simone de Beauvoir, in a class at Yale University. It's a genius story of a woman who discovers her husband of twenty years has been unfaithful, which transforms her life into a gradual nervous breakdown. The professor was surprised by her students’ reaction. “They thought she whined too much. They didn’t understand how a strong woman can be broken by love.” Love as surrender—whether it brings ecstasy or devastation—is a French ideal. Too much for an American to understand, preferring the ideal mate who looks good on paper.

A totally accepted casual notion in France: When a woman has married and produced the heir, she is free to cultivate her own sexual life. A lover outside the marriage is seen as a way to save the marriage. 

Forty million Americans describe themselves as sex-starved. According to Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers and chief scientific consultant to the dating site, it is often a question of mismatched libidos—an adventurer paired with a traditionalist, for example.

Studies show single Americans are having sex especially rarely, and blamed Internet porn; the American sex therapist Ian Kerner theorized that everyone was just too exhaused. 

Something really weird: Women who had their cervixes wired for signs of stimulation were shown images of heterosexual, gay, and lesbian porn, and one image of bonobo chimpanzees having sex. The women claimed not to be excited by anything but “appropriate” images, but the instruments showed otherwise. The women were turned on by all the images, including the monkeys! Men, subjected to the same study, were excited by the predictable, and mostly said so. None of them reacted to the monkeys.

Women get bored sexually with the same partner much sooner than men. According to one study, women experience “a catastrophic decline of interest” after three years whereas men show a much more gradual erosion.

In France, “flirting is a civic duty.” They say, flirting is playing with le fleuret, the tip of the sword.

There is a point of no return in the process of seduction, wrote the French erotic writer Crebillon Fils, which is when the woman signals that she won’t say no. Just like in Phantom of the Opera. ;-)

As human animals, we have our own observable sexual cues. Females tend to tip their buttocks up during courting. There is also the “copulatory gaze,” during which the pupils dilate.

Manon Lescaut and Dangerous Liaisons were named the sexiest works of literature. Also, The Story of O still stands as a minor erotic masterpiece.

Why the French are not as morally conflicted about sex: “The French are keenly aware of the brevity of time and the immediacy of pleasure.”

For the French, love is “embedded in the flesh.” Americans “prefer to imagine love without the body.”

According to a French woman I asked, there is no French translation for a date, as in the official dinner/movie outing, which she clearly thought sounded deadly.

A French therapist would not necessarily encourage, as would an American one, more “communication in bed.” Mystery, or what the French call le non-dit (“the unspoken”), is a better aphrodisiac.


Reading List:

No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon, translated by Lydia Davis
Secrets of The Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Claudine at School by Colette
How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance by Marilyn Yalom
The Story of O by Pauline Réage
Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost
Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel
What French Women Know: About Love and Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind by Debra Ollivier
What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Sexual Desire by Daniel Bergner
She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner



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