France has the reputation of being somewhere romance can blossom anywhere: in the cafe, on the corner of your street, at the boulangerie counter or while you’re sheltering from the rain next to the cinematheque.

But is there much to this reputation? Or can the path to finding the perfect French lover be a bumpier ride than people might think?

Our readers, some of whom understandably preferred to remain anonymous, told us the good, the bad — and the sometimes intimate — things about dating the French in France.

Let’s start with the downsides as there were many.

Several readers mentioned that, unlike “les Anglo-Saxons”, the French tend to be far more open about the intimate details of previous relationships.

In fact, instead of pretending there were a virgin until they finally met “the one” (you) the French will often discuss old partners positively, including how they were between the sheets.

“They are so liberal that they will openly talk about other women’s underwear and how sexy they found it: on your date. And then they will explain to you in detail how amazing other women are/ were/ are still,” one reader said.

Je t'aime... moi non plus: Tell us what it's really like to date French people

Photo: Depositphotos

And the open attitude to sex doesn’t stop there.

In fact it can even extend to a nod to the risqué even in front of their family members, as this anecdote from Melissa Frugone reveals.

“So my French now-husband and I were about a year into dating and his mom was visiting and it was around my birthday. He gives me my present when the 3 of us were together and I pull out…lingerie…in front of his mom. I was so embarrassed and he didn’t get what the big deal was.

“The worst/funniest part: his mom told me to try it on and show them!”

‘Their attention is fleeting’

Others said that the stereotype of the romantic Frenchman is actually a myth.

“They are not at all romantic – the men that is! Girls, we have all been fed lies!” said Anna Pauwels.

While another reader said that it was French women who were the real mystery.

“French women tend to act in two different ways, they can be rather cold or suspicious, not willing to talk intimately about themselves or they like to make out in front of a restaurant full of people. It can be hard to find that middle ground,” said Nick Paulsen.

Nick added that the way to get around the difficulties was to “be prepared for anything”.

“It’s important to not take yourself too seriously and show you have a sense of humour. Embrace PDA (public displays of affection) as this can come out of nowhere.”

Several readers suggested that while things can be hot and heavy at the beginning, this intensity doesn’t always last.

Photo: Depositphotos

“Their attention is fleeting, they run cold fast,” said one reader, adding that people “should not have great expectations for a long term or serious relationship. Being a good lover is innate to a French person” which makes it harder to discern the ones that are “keepers”.

Similarly, another reader said that long distance relationships might not always be the way to go with a Frenchman.

“If you don’t live in Paris, forget it. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is not generally applicable to French men, more like out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

Many readers said that one of the hardest things about having a French lover is that they an be brutally honest when it comes to expressing opinions about the clothes, personality traits and appearance of the person they’re with.

“My partner constantly feels the need to be radically honest about all of my mistakes and flaws,” said one reader.

Another reader said: “They often have opinions (and voice them) about your outfits or specific articles of clothing. Sometimes this is flattering if the feedback is positive but when it is negative it still catches me off guard. I’ve never had an American man tell me he hates my sweater.”

‘You feel like a teenager in love’

With all of those cons, it seems only fair to mention the pros and not all of those who responded said the experience of dating French people to be a bad one.

Several readers said that having a French lover can bring with it a renewed sense of joie de vivre.

“The best thing about dating a French person is you feel like teenager in love even though you are in your 40’s,” said one reader.

And for others, including Stephanie Luise Damasceno, the pros of dating a French person is the fact that you get a different perspective and insight into life… and restaurant menus.

Stephanie also noted the intensity of the French as a highlight of having a French lover.

Photo: Depositphotos

“After I went to France, he came to visit me in Brazil more than once. We travelled to some cities together and he always comes back to see me!”

Another reader, who is married to a Frenchman cited their “more the merrier” attitude, open mindedness, and ability to party hard” among the pros of dating the French.

Others said that one of the good things about dating the French is that there is no uncertainty over whether the relationship is official or not, as often occurs in Anglo-Saxon countries.

“There are clear lines as to whether or not you are in the relationship,” said Kate Jones. “The first kiss denotes the beginning! And that anniversary is more important than when you first go on a date.”

Another reader said: “In Anglo-Saxon countries you tend to have ‘the talk’ after a couple of months to determine whether or not you are ‘officially a couple’ or not.

“This talk doesn’t exist in France, you just assume that you’re ‘official’ after a couple of dates. I tried to have this talk with my now husband when we started dating and he was very confused and offended that I would assume otherwise!”

While the positive responses were far outweighed by the negative, try not to feel too disheartened about the dating scene in France and the prospect of what might happen once you actually get a French lover.

Here’s a final story from one of our readers to revive your romantic spirit.

“As an American student at the University of Dijon, out one evening with some fellow students, I met a handsome French lieutenant at the Aquarium, a dancing club.

“We agreed to reconnect in 3 weeks hence upon his return from Paris.  On the appointed day and time, I was sitting in my usual spot in the Glacier café at the Place Darcy, happily reading my Herald Tribune, and waited…and waited.

“Finally, discouraged and sure to have been stood up, I walked from the outside glassed in area to the inside to leave…..and there he was, comfortably seated at a table and also waiting!  He didn’t recognize me since on the night I met him my hair was in a chignon, but shoulder length on the day in question.

“Now with our two children happily married,  5 grandchildren, and over 52 years of marriage, I often wonder how my life would have turned out if I had taken a different route.”

Proof that true love really can blossom in France, even in the City of Mustard.

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