In the interests of preparing female readers for the inevitable harrassment they will encounter if strolling around the capital unchaperoned (or chaperoned only by a furry leopard), here is petite’s rough guide to common French chat-up lines.
“Vous avez de beaux yeux…”
The French equivalent of “Do you come here often?”. Although it might sound like a charming compliment the first time you hear it, it doesn’t age well. After about the twentieth re-run I found myself hard pushed to even muster up enough enthusiasm to bother responding with a sarcastic “Ah bon?”. However my real problem with this well-worn line is that the sleazy dragueur types using it very rarely look you in the eye while saying it. I don’t think I’m suggesting that the line should be changed to “what a lovely cleavage you have there mademoiselle. ” But a little eye-contact would be nice.
“Vous êtes américaine?” [or “suédoise” or “anglaise”]
Wrongly or rightly the French male seems to have the impression that all American girls are easy. So this line is likely to be delivered with a ‘hopeful’ intonation. Being more or less blonde (depending largely on the frequency of my visits to the hairdresser) and apparently non-French looking, I have been asked all of the above time and time again. The best line of defence seems to be to pretend not to understand a word of French. Either they give up, or the motivated ones start practising their dreadful Ingleesh on you. Which is likely to be good for a laugh if nothing else. And puts the dragueur at a distinct disadvantage.
“Vous avez une cigarette?”
Careful! There is nothing more bitterly disappointing than a drop dead gorgeous gentlemen requesting a cigarette, only to turn tail in disgust when no “clope” is forthcoming. Often French people who ask you for a cigarette are looking for just that: it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do in this country. Similarly “vous avez du feu?” can be a genuine request for a light, or the oldest chat up line in the book. A vous de juger.
“Vous êtes charmante”
Thank you kindly. What a pity that you, Monsieur, are old enough to be my grandad and fug ugly.