1. You cheek kiss like a pro.
Beard rash is never something you expected to experience as an adult male. But after your French girlfriend introduces you to her male family members, it will become a reality. Initially taken aback by this, you are now accustomed to the cheek-to-cheek hello amongst family. Accidentally breaking into that habit at a work function, however, can be a little awkward.
2. You are now part of very intense toasts.
The dinner ends and the glasses are raised to toast the host and draw attention to whatever occasion has brought you all together. For each glass gently tapping off another there is a set of eyes fixed back at you. In France, a cheers without eye contact is seven years of bad sex. Whether that’s just between you and the person you’re with, or across the board, isn’t known, but no one runs the risk.
3. You undress her like you peel an onion.
No, this is not a commentary on French peoples’ personal hygiene, but instead their approach to dressing. Layers upon layers of very small garments topped off with the non-season-specific scarf (apparently, a legal requirement in France) create the traditionally stylish French look.
4. You have an iron stomach.
Unimpressed with what most people consider a traditional meal, the French like to stretch their seven-course Sunday lunch over several hours. A plate of crudités followed by a small portion of soup starts the feast. This is followed by a pheasant’s egg steamed in the hair of an orphaned barn mouse accompanied with the marinated thyroid gland of albino grouse, coq au vin, and then the main course arrives. Just your typical French Sunday meal. As a newcomer to this, it’s important to pace yourself. Just because you didn’t think it could be consumed by humans doesn’t mean the French (your girlfriend included) haven’t been eating it for years.
5. You love the French and they love you back. Well, almost.
The traditional rude manner of the French (I’m allowed to say that, my girlfriend agrees) is no longer a problem, but that only goes for family. Welcomed with smiles and plied with wine and cheese, you will soon be dismissing the rude stereotype as a horrible misunderstanding. At least until you try to order something in a restaurant using your rudimentary French.
6. You dread Sundays.
In France the shops are only open for about two hours on a Sunday, so a shopping trip with your French girlfriend can quickly turn into a survival drama (have you seen the movie Alive?) if proper provisions aren’t made. A Sunday morning sleep-in could spell disaster, and cobbling together the last scraps of yesterday’s dinner is an unfortunately common scene.
7. Trying to buy wine makes you cry.
After a week in France, every wine purchase will be tainted with a certain level of resentment. The rule of thumb is three euros is too little and four is too much. In most countries that’s not enough for the cork, never mind the whole bottle. Wine sales will forever act as a mockery to the French experience.