I met my husband in a bar. I had been laid-off from my job in Chicago, and decided to come to Paris for a short break and to clear my head. We met in a boisterous Brit bar during a rugby game, hit it off, spent a few weeks driving around France in an old 2CV and then decided to move to San Francisco together. A few years later we were hosting our wedding in a little town in the North of France. Yup, it’s all really magical and romantic, except if you happen to be at a party in Paris with more than one other Franco-American couple. If that’s the case, you’re sure to find that at least 5 out of 7 of the couples have nearly the same “meet cute”, and quite frankly, it can be down-right embarrassing! We (American women) all know what we see in them (French men): from Pepé Le Pew to Marge Simpson’s randy French bowling coach, Jacques, we’ve grown up with this stereotype of the French man being romantic, sexy, intellectual and an excellent cook. It’s not until you actually move in with a French man (and then connect with other American women married to French men to gossip about it ) do you learn about all of the other stuff- the thing with the heat, the thing with the lights, the thing with the hot lunches…. the thing with his mother (who knew?!?). But is that other stuff just part of the stereotype as well? And what about the other side of the coin: what is it about American women that causes so many French guy’s eyes to stray Stateside?
For an insightful, entertaining peek into Franco-American relationships, you’ve got to pick up a copy of Polly Platt’s recent book, “Love à la française.” Through interviews and case studies, Polly looks at the attraction between American women and French men. What makes American women chuck it all in, marry their French man and move to Paris- and what does (or doesn’t) keep them there? Like all of Polly Platt’s books, this one shouldn’t be relegated to your “chick lit” shelf. I think it’s an interesting read for both sides of an Anglo-Franco couple, and should sit high on the required reading list of those considering taking the Parisian Lover’s Leap.