Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Holiday in Paris

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Nils, 25

Where are you from?
Paris. I grew up in the suburbs.

What is your relationship status?
Single, as of a few weeks ago.

Are you looking for anything?
Yes, I'm looking, or maybe I've already found something. I will see. I'm waiting here for my date.

Where did you meet your date?
I can't tell! It's too much. She's going to see this after our date!

That would be weird to see after your first date. What qualities do you look for in a girl?
The physical stuff always makes the first impression. After that, somebody who is interesting, either similar or different. Girls who can be natural.

Do you have a type?
You always think you have a type, but you never find the person who fits your type. The physical thing is not the most important thing. In English, it's… the same point of view?

What do you do for a living?
I'm an architect.

Does that get you any dates?
No. Usually workplace hookups are forbidden. Sometimes when you want it, you can do it. You know you shouldn't do it but you do it. But I can't talk about any of my experiences with work. That will come back to haunt me.

Do you have any good foreign hookups?
Holidays are made for hooking up. My first holiday was pretty good. I was in Italy. I was thirteen-years old. Thirty? Which is it? Treize ans. It was my first holiday without my parents. All the girls were eighteen. It was quite interesting. My first experience.

Your first time?
Yep. With an Italian girl. I didn't remember names or anything. It was in Naples… well, Pompeii. Not in the ruins though — in the hotel. We had never drank before and they brought some alcohol. I don't remember exactly, but something good happened! At the time, I didn't know what to think. I could barely remember it.

How did your upbringing influence your views on sex?
My parents aren't so religious. They just explained everything quite honestly. There was no problem. No jokes about it.

What's your most memorable date?
It was an elevator girl. In Istanbul. The elevator was broken down. The lights turned off. She was from Austria.

Do you have a crazy ex?
I don't know if she's crazy — she maybe called a bunch, or knocked on the door too many times, but that's because she was in love. But she did write a letter that was very personal, with private pictures. She sent it to me, but with the wrong address. So my concierge took it and opened it. My concierge knows it all.

Is it weird between you and your concierge now?
It's always weird with your concierge.

 

Eva, 20

from London, England

How long have you been in Paris?
I've been living in Paris for two years. Contemplating life. I'm an actress. Right now I'm a singer in Pigalle.

Do you have any hook-up stories from work?
Yeah, sometimes I would go back with a guy. But they're always in love with the person on stage, and not with me. I'm paid to be someone else, so it doesn't ever really work out. Right now, I have a boyfriend who is living in London. We've been together for seven months.

How has it been going with the distance?
It's all right. We're not used to seeing each other all the time. I think relationships work when you're apart from the other. We tried to live together once and it didn't work out. We prefer to be apart.

What do you like to do when you're together?
We like to run around town, go to cafes, make love.

What did you do for your first date?
We met at a concert. We'd been out in a pub drinking, and we spent all night long talking outside. And then we hooked up.

What is the most memorable date you've gone on?
We went to Brighton and we stayed together and talked about everything. It was the first time we were really being honest. Getting out of the natural environment helped us open up.

How did your upbringing influence your attitude towards sex?
I didn't have much of a relationship with my father. That's always given me problems. My mother's fine — she's always been really open with me since I was young. She's like my best friend. We don't have that many secrets.

Do you have any crazy exes?
Yeah, a lot. I think it might be because I end up with alcoholics. Some of them like prostitutes, some of them like stealing, some of them like cheating. A lot of them try to destroy me. I don't know why. I think it's because I like to save people.

What's your relationship with your boyfriend like now?
Great. I don't usually like dating people my own age. I always date older guys. But it's amazing. We get along really well. We are friends, and lovers, and he's like a brother and even a father. I like him a lot. He can put up with me easily.

Where's the craziest place you've had sex?
On the first floor of a bus in London. We were kind of drunk, but it was okay.

Were others around?
Yes, but we were discreet. It was nice, the element of danger.

Do you have any sexual experiences with Parisians?
Yeah, I don't really like them. They are really stuck-up or mean. They're pretentious. They definitely act like they know everything about everything. That's why I like to go to London. French guys like to complain all the time. The Parisian guys were all older than me, fourteen or sixteen years older, but they acted like kids. They never really love. They will say "I love you" straight away, but they never really mean it. They want someone to believe they're great. I've dated guys from every class. Very poor, very rich. They're all the same. Very selfish.

Do you have any vacation romances?
Yes, I like foreigners. Last year it was Greek guys. I had a boyfriend for four months there. I've also dated Irishmen and Italians and Germans.

Which nationality did you find has the most open views on sex?
Spanish people. They are the best lovers. English people too, because they're funny when it comes to sex. French people are afraid of that. They're afraid of what they really want. English people always find a way to make a situation funny, even if they're really bad. Italians are just bragging. They think they're really good, but they're really bad. But they're very funny people too.

How do you connect with people in a foreign country?
When I met some Greek guys in Paris who were on holiday, I started going out with one of them, and then I went on holiday with him. The thing is, I was in love with his friend. We had this hidden relationship the whole time. He was one of the biggest loves of my life. So one day, we decided to meet in another city. I went there, and he already had a girlfriend, and he'd decided he didn't want to see me anymore. So I ended up being there all alone. I was in a bad place, and a bad neighborhood, sharing a room with a prostitute. I really didn't meet anyone, even though I really wanted someone to come to me. But most of the time when I connect with someone, it's fate, or chance.
 

 

Daniel, 33

from Berlin, Germany

Are you here visiting Paris?
No, I'm here working. I'm here for two weeks, then I have a break and I come back in February. I'm an actor. Theater, film, whatever.

What's your relationship status?
Complicated!

Are you seeing one particular person?
Yes, a woman.

What makes it complicated? How long have you been seeing each other?
Actually, one year now. We've known each other for seventeen years. And we had a relationship when we were kids. This a long romantic story. When we met, she was my best friend's girlfriend.

Did you guys had a romantic spark when you first met or did that happen later?
Yes, straight away. Then a marriage, a child, twelve years without contact. And now we're in a complicated relationship.

Is she going to be sharing this experience with you in Paris?
She was supposed to.

When you leave Paris are you going back to Germany?
I'm going back to Germany for a movie. A criminal story. American people aren't interested in German crime movies.

What qualities do you look for in a partner?
She has to be really crazy. She has to be crazy about life. She has to have the idea to flip life upside down. My whole story with my girlfriend is completely flipped upside down. The last time we saw each other was twelve years ago. We had an argument because she wanted to go back to the other man. She wanted to say goodbye to him because she was leaving the next day for Rome. I was very jealous and confused. Both of us were very confused. The last thing I knew she was slapping me in the face as I drove the car. I saw her twelve years later, getting out of a cab. I was in Munich working for a theater company, and the producer was looking for a place for me to live. I didn't know it, but she was putting hers up for rent. So by accident I plopped into her flat with my girlfriend at the time. And immediately we fell in love again, but we didn't even recognize it. Everyone else around us did — my friend looked at me and said "You're crazy." They recognized it straight away. And we both were going, "No, no, it's in the past." My girlfriend at the time wanted to move out of the flat immediately. She said, "I'm not going to stay in that woman's flat," and I told her, "You're overreacting. There's nothing anymore." But of course she was right, we fell in love and, here we go.

You mentioned kids?
She has a child. The problem is, we both love each other, but she failed in her life. She had a seven-year marriage and has a six-year-old child. She's alone now with a child. And she's upset about life and she can't trust anymore. She thought she couldn't love anymore. Now she's in between. She doesn't know if she is supposed to raise this child alone at thirty-five or dream of something new. And suddenly I pop up again, and she's totally confused. "You turned my life upside down! What am I going to do!" That's why it's complicated.

How do you guys think you're going to proceed? You're here in Paris…
I'm going to go back on Monday. She has to make a decision at one point. She has to decide whether to stay with the pain of the past or keep going.

Jessica, 23

Sydney, Australia

What are you up to in Paris?
I'm on a Contiki tour. It's a tour designed for people eighteen to thirty-five, and it takes you around Europe. This is our first stop, here in Paris. We've been in London, and we're here for three nights.

What is your impression of Parisians ?
I'd heard they were very rude. But everyone I've talked to has been very nice.

Do you have any observations about the dating scene so far?
They're very… forward, especially here in the red-light district. I've had people yelling, "Sex, sex, sex!" in my ear.

Are you actively looking for anything tonight ?
I'm single. I'm up for anything. If I find somebody, I will go home with them, maybe. I'm interested.

What are some qualities you look for in the opposite sex?
Usually I look for dark hair. Taller than myself.

Do you have any experiences hooking up in a foreign country?
No, I haven't. I've had marriage proposals in Samoa, because apparently I'm hot over there. Maybe here. Fingers crossed!

What are some things you do to impress the opposite sex?
I'm a professional dancer, so I like to pull out some moves every now and then. And I think I'm kind of attractive. I act confident. Confidence gets people. It really does.

I agree. Do you have any crazy hookup stories?
I did anal once. Which was crazy. But that was about it. That's kind of crazy in Australia. A lot of people don't like to talk about it. It's kind of taboo. But I liked it! I've had threesomes before — two girls and a guy. I've never hooked up with a girl. It was just a pleasuring the guy kind of thing. It was good. I like experimenting with things like that. I'm not shy. Everyone kind of needs to do it at some time.

Do you have any crazy ex-boyfriends ?
No, I don't actually. Oh no. One of my ex-boyfriends told me I couldn't eat a kebab, because it looked dirty. So I didn't eat a kebab for three years.

That is crazy.
Or singlets. I couldn't wear singlets. I don't know. He was pretty weird like that, for three years.

How long did you guys date?
Four and a half years. Four years without kebabs or singlets. That was pretty hard. He saw me eating a kebab and told me if he ever saw me eating a kebab again he would break up with me. It was pretty intense.

What do you wear when you want to feel sexy?
Usually, short skirts. I do have big boobs, but I kind of cover them up a little bit. So usually just short skirts, or if I want I can get my cleavage out.

Is there a fantasy you absolutely have to fulfill?
I've never had a lesbian hookup, so that would be kind of good.

You came to the right area.
We were walking past the sex shops and I was like… what's that phrase? How do you say "Do you want to sleep with me tonight?"

"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?"
"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir!" I was doing that past the sex-shops and they would be like, "Oui, oui!" I was like, "No, no, just kidding!"

 


Abbi, 23

Westport, Ireland

How long have you been in Paris?
Two months. I work at Corcoran's Bar next door.

Do you get hit on a lot at work?
Yeah. It's horrible. It's annoying. We have a certain amount of regulars that come in, and during the day, they're fine, but when it hits two a.m. and they're drunk, it gets a bit annoying.

How do you deal with them?
I push them. I literally smashed some guy into a mirror last night because he was trying to touch me. I think if you work at a bar anywhere, it happens.

What's the different between flirting here and back home?
When Irish guys come on to you, you can say, "Sorry, I'm not interested," they say, "Okay, that's fine," and they leave. But with French guys, telling them that you're not interested seems to be an invitation to harass you. They just keep going. A couple weeks ago I was at Harry's Bar, the oldest cocktail bar in Europe, and I was with my aunt. She was talking to this guy, and she says, "This is my niece," and he turns around to me and says, "I like your dress, but I like what's underneath it even more." Right in front of my aunt! And then he goes, "So babe, what about me and you back at my place?' and I'm looking at him like, "Have you not realized I'm with my mom's sister? You can't say that to me!" It's so weird. In Ireland, guys are not over-complimentary. They're quite subdued — they never say, "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes on." French guys make me uncomfortable. The only thing I can do is stand there and laugh uncomfortably, and they think I'm crazy. I just laugh into my drink, going red and embarrassed and wanting to get away.

Do you have any crazy hook-up stories in Paris?
Not yet in Paris. I haven't been here long enough. But I have one from Portugal. I was with my family. I went out with my little brother and his friends, and I met this Australian guy, and I was really drunk and gave him my number. He texted me the next day and I was like, "Okay, we can go for drinks, whatever," and I went down and we got absolutely shitfaced. He was very good-looking, but he was brain-dead. At four in the morning, he was like, "Do you want to come back to my house?" and I said "No, you can come back to my house." But my bedroom was literally across the hall from my parents' bedroom. So we did the deed, and it was horrible. It was really bad. Both of us were too drunk to remember how to have sex. It just ended in this awkward, weird thing where neither of us knew what we were doing and we were absolutely hammered, and at one point he turns to me and says, "I love fake tits. I'm so glad you have them because I love them."

Oh, wow.
I didn't know whether to be extremely offended or extremely complimented. But I told him, "Seriously, you have to leave." So it's six in the morning and I put this guy in a taxi and I think, "I never want to see you again." And he says, "We should go out for drinks tomorrow," and I said, "No! I just remembered, I actually have to go home tomorrow morning. I have a flight really early."

But you didn't.
To cut a long story short, the next night I went to a bar with my dad's fiance, and we were getting absolutely shitfaced. Eventually we were waiting at a taxi run. I look down the taxi run, and who the fuck is sitting there? He's kind of looking up at me, and I'm looking back going, "Oh fuck!" trying to hide behind my dad's fiance. I told her, "That's the guy from last night!" And she's so fucking Irish, she turned to him and asked if he wanted to share a taxi. I was like, "Get in the fucking taxi and shut up!" and he looked at me and said, "Oh my God, babe, I thought you were going home!" and I said, "I am going home! Goodbye!" I was trying to close the door and he was trying to get in the taxi, and I shut the door on his arm. The last thing I saw was him holding his probably broken arm as we were driving away. It was absolutely awful.

That is pretty epically bad.
And then I had to clean up the debris of the night before. Where do you put used condoms when you're staying in a villa with your parents? You throw them into the neighbor's garden!

 


Thomas, 25

Saxony, Germany

Are you on holiday?
Yes, I've been here eight days.

What is your relationship status?
I'm single.

Are you looking?
I look every day, but I don't go to a girl and say, "Hi, I'm from Germany. What's your name?" I let it be natural. I have girls in Germany. But not relationships. Just for… meeting.

Have you had an experience with a girl from another country?
No, just Germans.

What's the craziest hook-up story from Germany?
I came back to Germany from a trip. A girl was renting my room. The new girl and I and my roommate were drinking. Then my roommate went to bed. We go to the balcony. We look at the stars. We look at the eyes. Then we go back to my room. The sex was good. But during it, the condom was destroyed. And she didn't take baby pills. So three days after we go and buy pills at a hospital. I don't want a baby with this girl!

How do you usually meet girls in Germany?
Mostly, I meet my friends, and there are new girls I don't know. They say they want me and we meet up. Or clubs. I look. When a girl looks in my eyes, I go up to her and say, "Hey, you looked at my eyes. How's it going?" But most of my life, I've been in a relationship. They last for one or two years, and when they end I have to find another relationship for one or two years. So this is new to me.

Tell me a story about a past relationship.
With one of my first girlfriends, we were young, and we fell in love with each other very fast. And one night, we went back to my room, and I was a little nervous, and she touched me and said, "It's okay if we do anal." I was shocked. I had seen it in pornography but I never thought I would do that. It never occurred to me. It was strong for our first time having sex.

And do you think it's strange now?
No! Now it's good. But for your first time with a girl, it's weird.

What are characteristics you look for in a girl?
Physically, I like a small, thin girl with big boobs. Not so big, but not so small. In Germany, there are sizes, A, B, C, D. I like a good C. A youthful face. It's good if a girl is twenty-five but they look nineteen- or twenty-years old. And little bit shy. When you need to speak with each other, you don't have to think, "What say I now?" and the conversation can flow. And it's not important she know about everything, but it's important that she's interested.

Do you have any fantasies?
I lost many vocabulary. I have to speak English one week a year.

You're doing fine.
When I have a relationship with a girl, I fantasize that an ex-girlfriend joins my new relationship.

For sex or for more?
Only for sex. You always think about an ex-girlfriend when you're having sex with the new person, so in my fantasies, they can join too. But then they have to leave after.

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