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Being A Riviera Woman

I’m new to being a Riviera Woman. I’ve a lot to learn, no doubt, but early indications are that coming here is a bigger culture change than an English woman abroad might have expected.

OK, I admit, I chose Nice because it’s sexy, it’s a city that oozes life, with few pretensions. Perhaps I wasn’t prepared for just how sexy it is, coming from a place where men generally are very nervous about approaching women, and when they do, a number of meals out and cinema, theatre or opera trips are in order. I would happily do that here, a chance to flirt, explore French cuisine and entertainment, practice my French, and maybe, who knows, meet a nice Frenchman.

LouiseniceBut here, they don’t do that. All jokes about the Australian man’s idea of foreplay being to shout ‘Brace yourself, Sheila’ seem a bit close to the bone, because here the average bloke seems to think that trying to pick up a woman while driving past in a car, a few minute’s polite conversation and then down to some serious business is a good night out. And a good start to a relationship, a quick smile and they’re trying to move in.

Even that may not be too bad, but there does seem to be something of a fixation on, shall we say, body areas that the English woman is not accustomed to being an early point of male interest.

Which does tend, on the whole, to encourage fraternization with other ex-pats instead. I persevere, integration and fully experiencing a new culture is important for me, and maybe I’m just meeting the wrong sort of man (nothing new there then!!!)

There are other issues all wrapped up in this, I know. English women seem to be prized by the French, and tall women seem to be especially prized. I’m five ten, blue eyes, dark hair, and I try hard with expressive French, which seems to tick all the boxes. My first few months in France was spent in a small rural village where everybody says Bonjour to everyone else. My background is Yorkshire where you make at least eye contact with everyone you meet. Perhaps I was lamb to the slaughter coming to Nice…

But I love Nice, I love its people, I love it’s attitude. Even if I do swear at it all on average twice a day. Sorry, it’s not your fault. It’s just me taking a little time to become a Riviera Woman.

Feature contributed by Louise Strachan on July 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm.

Comment from KiwiGal on August 1, 2010 at 9:07 am:
Er, I think you'll find that 'Sheila' has a small 's' at the beginning, because it's not so much a name as a thing; i.e. a sheila is their quaint expression for a girl. For a long time, us Kiwi girls could be heard plaintively crying; "But my name's not Sheila" as we braced ourselves.... nah, that last part's pure fiction - for me anyway.
Although about one-third of Australia seems to be populated by displaced Kiwis (they're the nice Aussies - including their actors, directors, sailors, doctors, TV personalities, State governors, top racehorses, ad infinitum). As one of our more acerbic Prime Ministers noted, the number of Kiwis leaving to live in Oz boosted the IQ of both countries.... and I've never heard polite conversation emanating from any Oz driver's mouth.
It's not what you get, it's how you get it; listening to all the different ways a Frenchman can say "I want all care and no responsibility" at least makes for a good night out, and the end result is just as much a lottery (and more charming) as with any anglophile. That - or leave your make-up off...
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