Flirting in French: 25 Phrases to Talk About Romance in “The Language of Love”
Go ahead, pretend that it never crossed your mind that you were learning the planet’s most-hyped language of love.
Whether you’re looking for a fling, a couple of dates or a lifetime of passion, voilà!
We’ve got all the words, strategies and cultural considerations for flirting in French that can turn you into a regular femme fatale or Pepé Le Pew.
- 1. T’as de beaux yeux, tu sais ?
- 2. T’es beau/t’es belle
- 3. Deuxième degré
- 4. Troisième degré
- 5. La bise
- 6. Bisou sur la bouche
- 7. T’as une miette
- 8. Tourner la bouteille
- 9. Action-vérité
- 10. Qu’est-ce que tu penserais si je t’embrassais ?
- 11. Tu m’excites !
- 12. Faire l’amour
- 13. J‘ai tellement envie de faire l’amour avec toi !
- 14. Coucher avec
- 15. Un rendez-vous galant
- 16. On prend un verre/un café.
- 17. On sort ensemble.
- 18. On est ensemble.
- 19. Première vitesse
- 20. Deuxième vitesse
- 21. Troisième vitesse
- 22. Elles sont difficiles les Américaines/Françaises/Espagnoles/Russes… ?
- 23. L’amour est toujours très compliqué !
- 24. J’aimerais te connaître davantage. Tu es si intéressante.
- 25. Je ne peux pas m’empêcher de te regarder. Tu es magnifique ce soir.
- How to Flirt in French Without Moving to France, Africa or Quebec
- And one more thing...
1. T’as de beaux yeux, tu sais ?
Meaning: You’ve got beautiful eyes, you know?
This comes off as an extreme cliché, like the English “Do you come here often?” You shouldn’t ever say it for real, but you might try employing it ironically, laying on your foreign accent very thickly and giving a wink—as if you’re “just practicing” your new language.
2. T’es beau/t’es belle
Meaning: You’re beautiful
You should really only say this after you’ve established a relationship with someone. Both French guys and girls seem to be easily scared off by directness, tending to prefer a bit more subtlety.
3. Deuxième degré
Meaning: Second degree
What this means is speaking ironically—not saying or taking things at face value.
4. Troisième degré
Meaning: Third degree
This means that you’re being even more ironic and less sincere. For example, saying “t’as de beaux yeux, tu sais” to someone you would clearly not flirt with (to your baker as you get the change or between two straight dudes).
5. La bise
Meaning: The practice of non-romantic kisses on the cheeks
These kisses are used for greeting someone and saying goodbye. However, they can quite easily become something more.
6. Bisou sur la bouche
Meaning: Kiss on the lips
After more than a decade of flirting in continental Europe, I honestly can’t even remember how Americans manage to work up to their first bisou sur la bouche.
7. T’as une miette
Meaning: You’ve got a crumb
You can use this pretend to stroke something off of someone’s face, first with your fingers, then with your lips.
8. Tourner la bouteille
Meaning: Spin the bottle
It’s the same concept as our version of the classic game, and, before you laugh it off, I have personally seen a romance between a couple of French natives go on to last years after getting sparked on my living room floor.
Meaning: Truth or dare
This is, similarly, a classic. Say “action” and, if your friends have any sense at all, they’ll dare you to smooch someone lovely.
10. Qu’est-ce que tu penserais si je t’embrassais ?
Meaning: What would you think if I kissed you?
Take advantage of your conditional tense knowledge! As I said before, we definitely don’t want to be too direct in French flirting. But you could, hypothetically, suggest romantic situations. Qu’est-ce que tu penserais si je t’embrassais? is a great line for this.
11. Tu m’excites !
Meaning: You turn me on!
The faux ami (false cognate) exciter that you were warned away from in French class is, finally, useful once you’re in a romantic situation.
12. Faire l’amour
Meaning: To make love
When I first moved to France, I was more than a little surprised to hear some definitely love-free trysts referred to as faire l’amour. Yes, the phrase means “to make love,” but it’s also used to describe hookup-like situations where love is absent.
13. J‘ai tellement envie de faire l’amour avec toi !
Meaning: I really want to make love with you!
Even if you’re not quite ready for the L word, don’t be concerned if someone says, “j’ai tellement envie de faire l’amour avec toi !”
14. Coucher avec
Meaning: Go to bed with
Coucher avec is an informal—but not vulgar—verb phrase for romantic encounters. For example, j‘ai couché avec monsieur le president (I slept with the president) was a commonly-used phrase during the periods of the French republics.
15. Un rendez-vous galant
Meaning: A date
The American concept of “dating” doesn’t really exist in France. “A date” in the subtitles of American TV shows is sometimes rendered un rendez-vous galant, but really, nobody in France would ever ask anyone to do one of those.
16. On prend un verre/un café.
Meaning: Let’s go for a drink/a coffee.
Instead of saying un rendez-vous galant, you can say on prend un verre/un café. Do not make romantic intentions explicit. Passion is supposed to “just happen.”
17. On sort ensemble.
Meaning: We’re going out
There’s no “just dating” period where you go out with a few people at once, as there is in the States. If a hookup was more than a one-time thing, there will be a strong presumption that it’s immediately a monogamous relationship. Congratulations, once you get to this stage in the relationship you can say on sort ensemble.
18. On est ensemble.
Meaning: We’re together
This is another way of saying that you are in a relationship with someone.
19. Première vitesse
Meaning: First gear
Americans’ use of baseball terms to describe their degrees of sexual conquest (“She got to second base!”) has a much more innocent equivalent in France. The metaphor used is like going into first gear, second gear, etc. Première vitesse (first gear) is going out for a drink.
20. Deuxième vitesse
Meaning: Second gear
This is achieved when the pair realizes their shared interest in something more.
21. Troisième vitesse
Meaning: Third gear
This refers to making out.
22. Elles sont difficiles les Américaines/Françaises/Espagnoles/Russes… ?
Meaning: Are American/French/Spanish/Russian women difficult (to start a relationship with/to flirt with)?
If you’re a foreigner in France, be prepared for this horrible question that travelers are asked anywhere. The question isn’t horrible itself, I suppose—cultural differences in romance definitely exist—but the subtext is perhaps a bit sexist.
One way to politely avoid it is by saying something like, “Ça dépend, bien sûr !“ (That depends, of course!)
23. L’amour est toujours très compliqué !
Meaning: Love is always very complicated!
This is another simple phrase you can use to avoid invasive questions.
24. J’aimerais te connaître davantage. Tu es si intéressante.
Meaning: I would like to get to know you better. You’re so interesting.
This is a simple way to state your intentions toward someone and compliment them in a tasteful way.
25. Je ne peux pas m’empêcher de te regarder. Tu es magnifique ce soir.
Meaning: I can’t help but look at you. You look stunning tonight.
Again, this is a good phrase to use when you want to let someone know that you are interested in them.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
How to Flirt in French Without Moving to France, Africa or Quebec
I do realize that some of you live in tragic locales where there aren’t a lot of French-speaking people to flirt with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t flirt in French—enter the internet!
For starters, warm up with French romances on Netflix or whatever your favorite streaming platform is.
Next, you can get on the pro version of Tinder and change your geographical settings to whatever region of the world interests you.
If you do happen to be in a French-speaking area, you can download the Gallic answer to Tinder, Happn. For those who prefer computers, popular dating websites in France include Meetic and Adopte un Mec.
You might also just happen to meet someone lovely through traditional language exchanges over Skype. If you’re looking to be a little less flirtatious and a little more professional, you can also opt to hire a private tutor on italki. They’ll be paid to help you polish your pickup lines.
However you’re meeting people, you should of course be completely honest about your intentions, whether you’re looking for language practice, romance or both. Here are some good ways to express what you’re looking for:
- Je cherche l’amour. — I’m looking for love.
- Je cherche juste à faire de nouveaux potes. — I just want to make new friends.
- J’ai juste envie de pratiquer mon français. — I just want to practice my French.
- Je cherche une relation sans engagement. — I’m not looking for commitment.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and moreover, I hope it proves to be of very practical use—whether that means lifelong love, silly adventures or just getting in some extra French practice.
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.