When I went to France one summer, I came back with a Parisian boyfriend and a long distance relationship. Suddenly it seemed like everyone in New York was French or longing to be. It turns out New York and Paris are sister cities, or rather, in a long, hot love affair-- the stuff of Aries and Aphrodite.
New York may be a melting pot, but France enjoys a quiet stronghold, with a bistro practically on every block. While Paris watches over our Marc Jacobs and David Sedaris, New York gives France's former first lady, Cecilia (Sarkozy) Attias, her morning jog and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind filmmaker Michel Gondry an endless playground for the imagination. Luckily for us jaded New Yorkers, we're right at home with French cynicism and love of intellectual conversation and the Frenchies love us for our...chutzpah, only they call it sans-gene.
Whether you're in search of the endless charm of a love affair with a French person or a reverse-greencard, here are a couple tips for dating French people in New York:
They travel in herds: Checking out an early Cedric Klapisch film at Alliance Francaise, attending a NYC French Social meet-up, or crashing a party by Accueil, a social organization for French people, or hunting with other Francophiles at French Tuesdays, it's important to know that like any community abroad, the French travel in herds. Where there's one, there's plenty more where he or she came from. Thanks to my French boyfriend, who now lives in New York, I still manage to be one of the only English speakers at many a wine drenched party.
Little Paris: If any neighborhood in Manhattan deserves the label Little Paris, it would be the Lower East Side. Sure, the Upper East has its share of bistro after bistro, thanks to the mother ship, Alliance Francaise, being on 60th, but it's the L.E.S. that gives you sexy, salty, jazz-infused Paris. The blog Paris in New York points to over a dozen hot spots where you're sure to overhear French swelling from tables or see men and women take a break from their meals to smoke a cigarette outside. My absolute favorite, just based on personal history, is Cafe Charbon, the proper name being Epicerie and Cafe Charbon, where the bubbly, laid-back waiters are chill enough to let you practice your bad French and the dining room is a throw-back to a quaint grocery, and the dark bar, with its palm trees, makes you feel like you're in Casablanca or someplace a 25-year old Ernest Hemingway used to drink.
Food: The way to a French person's heart is their stomach. This cannot be stressed enough. The French are a country obsessed with food--talking about it and eating. How else do they stay so slim--they have a healthy relationship with food, good food--the au naturel. If you promise to shop from Dean & Deluca--a fine store in New York that closely resembles the grocery stores the French are used to, then ask them to show you how to cook--every one of them knows something. Even ratatouille is just throwing veggies into a pot.
Inside Baseball: Now, here are some curve balls you can throw your Frenchie, once you have "elle" or "lui" in your crosshairs. Don't gush over Paris--it's boring because they get it all the time and he or she may be from Lille. Instead, tell them that Zidane, or rather Zizou's footwork belongs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (it does) then follow this up by shaking your head at the Italians. Also, the French love or know how to "rock dance," which is a more upright version of swing dancing. They grow up, especially as teenagers, rock dancing, it's something they do at any age at weddings, so get them to show you some of that "dance le rock?"
Theatrics: Also, it's important to know that Serge Gainsbourg was a musical genius with the potency of Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol, and chain-smoking Frank Sinatra in one. Get a load of his song New York U.S.A. (1964). And today, the French love to DJ, and they love their electronic music. If you're already obsessed with Daft Punk and Dimitri from Paris, may I recommend Martin Solveig and Bob Sinclar Africanism Project II. (It will make you want to go to Miami, a place French people and New Yorkers love.) And once you're ready to take the encounter up a notch, blow smoke, gently, in his or her face and purr, "tu es mignon"--you're cute. This basically let's them know you want to be kissed (or worse) and that someone told you that, as adolescents, the French blow smoke in the face as a form of seduction. But it's still a cute gesture that shows, I'm one step ahead of you. Frenchie.