Naughty or Nice? A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City
According to author, Heather Stimmler-Hall, Paris is not only the world’s most romantic city, but is the sexiest city in the world, too…particularly for women. In paragraph one of her second edition, Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City, she exclaims, “It’s no wonder so many women are drawn to the City of Light. Its unspoken promise of sexual (re)discovery speaks to our feminine sensibilities and inspires us to embrace our hidden desires. Paris, we feel intuitively, is a place where women are truly liberated.”
It was this very question she posed to our group of women and men (who made up about 20% of the audience) yesterday at Parler Paris Après Midi: “Do you think Paris allows women to be their more feminine selves than in America?”
The conversation ran overtime and overcharged. Most of the group had much to say, and from both perspectives, male and female. Everyone, but one person (British) was an American, with a few married to someone French, so we missed the point of view of the French man or woman who might have interjected a completely different take on what is truly a broad and explosive topic.
If you are a woman wanting a fresh romantic life in the City of Light (and Love), then you will hang on every one of Heather’s words. She describes French men as “Natural Born Romantics”: “French men don’t choose to be more romantic; they’re just born that way, blessed with Latin genes and a history of courtly love dating back to the Medieval troubadours.”
But, she warned us about the cultural differences that can quickly end the romance! Quoting Helena Frith Powell, author of “Two Lipsticks and a Lover,” she notes: “Wearing matching lingerie not only makes you feel sexy (and naughty), but also, should a Frenchman get to your underwear and find it’s non-matching, he may storm out of the bedroom.”
(Do I dare attest to this as true? Additional personal advice to my female friends: Never wear the same lingerie twice…every encounter must be a new adventure!)
There was much conversation about the difference of harmless flirtation compared to sexual harassment and how the two cultures view these issues so differently. Heather calls it the “Art of Flirtation”: “On the street, in cafés, at the market, or even in the office…the French do it everywhere. No location is too banal nor any occasion too serious for a bit of harmless flirting. And the best part is that everyone can participate in this equal-opportunity pastime, no matter what your age or marital status.”
I discovered long ago that flirtation is absolutely necessary to get anything you want, whether it be with a man or woman! Money does not buy you customer service, but harmless flirtation, or simply being charming, will win over even the grumpiest of Parisians. We were not taught to flirt in America — in fact, we were taught just the opposite, as flirtation is in a direct line to sex from our puritanical cultural background:
“Flirting” from Wikipedia.org says, “Flirting or coquetry is a social and sometimes sexual activity involving verbal or written communication as well as body language by one person to another, suggesting an interest in a deeper relationship with the other person. In most cultures, it is socially disapproved for a person to make explicitly sexual advances, but indirect or suggestive advances (i.e., flirting) may at times be considered acceptable. On the other hand, some people flirt playfully, for amusement.”
I have often joked that Paris is my lover, but in so many ways, this has been true. Heather wrote: “Women have a unique relationship with Paris. The city seduces us, inspires us, and calls to us like no other place in the world. Paris has come to embody the ideal of ‘liberté,’ where we are free to acknowledge and embrace who we really are as women.”
When going through a painful divorce, I was forever grateful to the city for giving me what I couldn’t get at home: “feminine fulfillment.” It may be hard to believe when you see me now (with matching lingerie), that at one time I donned short hair and wore only pants suits and ties to better fair in business among male peers. In an American world, femininity only achieved sex and inequality rather than admiration for the differences, as in France where femininity is appreciated and where women don’t need to be ‘just like men’ in order to be courageous and independent.
Heather and I were the only women in the room wearing skirts. (If the women in the group had been French, that wouldn’t have been true.) The pants suits and ties went out with the divorce. My astute then 11 year-old daughter, who had already become a bona fide “Parisienne” at this ripe ‘old’ age, actually said these words when shopping together for clothing: “Mom, you want to get the guys? Only buy sexy clothes.”
To this day, I have heeded her advice and given the same to all my female friends who are still wearing pants and not matching their bras and panties. Sexy clothing was a big topic during Heather’s talk — and the men had much to say about this. One man made a point to differentiate between what is “sexy” and “vulgar.” Another said that ‘sexy’ is when the clothing is in tune with the woman’s body — not contrived or restricted. Heather’s Naughty Paris concurs with this idea: “What comes across as sexy and attractive in Paris is a distinct ‘mélange’ of artful elegance without looking ‘over groomed.'”
The book is filled with fabulous resources, beautiful photos and sage advice. You can get your copy at the local English-language book stores, or by visiting our Recommended Reading page.
Heather Stimmler Hall is also the author of the Secrets of Paris Newsletter (be sure to sign up!) and she offers Secrets of Paris Tours you won’t want to miss when you’re visiting.
Meanwhile, next time you pack for Paris, be sure to take Heather’s advice: “The Parisian Wardrobe Must-Haves:
* Silk or printed cashmere scarf
* Timeless little black dress
* Feminine silk shirt
* Striped “marinière” sailor shirt
* Blazer jacket
* Fine cashmere sweater
* Borsalino hat for winter, Panama hat for summer
* Colorful clutch purse
* Signature piece of jewelry
* Flattering jeans in a dark rinse
* A pair of heels, elegant boots, and ballerinas
* Sexy, matching lingerie
A la prochaine,
(photo by Theo Robinson)
P.S. I’ll be writing to you next week from the Big Apple! For those of you in the New York City area, who would like to know more about investing in France, I will be available for private consultations March 13th through 18th. Consultations are typically two hours, and I will be offering my usual euro fee at the same rate, but in U.S. dollars. Email me personally to make your appointment: [email protected]
P.P.S. Looking for a long-term rental apartment in Paris for 3 months to 3 years? The Adrian Leeds Group can help! We can assist you in finding the ideal furnished or unfurnished apartment based on your specific needs and budget, or view an apartment you’ve already found. For details or to book our services, visit Long-term Apartment Search or email [email protected] today!