Do Frenchmen love to be naked around each other?

(asked by Andrea from somewhere in the US)

OK, this is not exactly what she asked.
Here is her actual question, but I gotta warn you, the question will be longer than the answer.

I recently spent two months in Australia. One rainy day, I was at a museum by myself when I met this French guy. He had been in Aussie for one year, and that was his very last day in the country… He was to leave the next day. We hit if off, spent the rest of the day together, and parted ways that evening with a warm hug and each other’s email addresses. Since that day (almost two months ago) we have been talking on skype nearly every day. We have shared a lot about ourselves, confessed some steadily growing feelings for each other, and now he has made definite plans to come to the U.S. for three months in January.

So far so good…he is sweet, kind, very attentive, and super romantic (which, as an American girl, is a nice change from what I have been used to in the past). I can relate to some of the stuff I’ve read on your blog, so that is helpful. But, today I had an unsettling experience that I have no idea how to interpret.

We have been exchanging photos from our past, which has been great!
But, today he showed me a bunch of photos from a photo shoot he did with some friends years ago. Basically, he said he and his male friends got together to do a sexy-guy calendar for their female friends… and the female friends apparently did the same. In theory, I thought this was cute and funny… a little different than what Americans would do, but whatever. But, DAMN, he showed me the photos today and they are very naked (barely covered). It looked like soft porn, and the guys were taking all the photos together… very naked, very close, very unsettling to my American brain.

Now, I am not a homophobic person (really), but at the same time I am used to American men being quite homophobic about being naked around each other. So, to see him running around naked with his buddies is just kind of throwing me off. But, I remember him stressing the fact that the girls weren’t there… they were on their own, with no guys around (which I could tell, in his mind, was supposed to make me feel better about the idea).

So, my question now is about French male friendships…and also about sexuality in France. You said before that kissing = serious relationship, and that sex can happen immediately after that first kiss. So, I have to assume that sex also pretty much = serious relationship. After seeing these photos, my American mind thinks “promiscuous”, but maybe it just means “natural non-sexual fun”.

Ok, help me out with this one…my American brain doesn’t quite know how to take it (and, for the record, I am half Chilean and have traveled a fair bit…I am not a “typical” closed-minded sheltered American).

Thanks for reading…I hope you can help.


P.S. Ok, I can’t resist question two…while I’m at it. Would you say, as a French man, you pretty much mean what you say? In other words, all of his romantic talk and plans to come to the U.S….that pretty much means he is seriously into me, right? Seems obvious, but it also seems too good to be true at this point. He is such a sweetheart! He even sent me flowers at my house!

Well, well, well� What an interesting guy you�ve met.
First let�s answer your direct question: when I say kissing = sex = serious relationship in a previous post, I�m in the �relationship� context. Kissing for fun can happen even if it�s pretty rare among adults in France; sex for fun and one night stands exist obviously, that�s just not what I was talking about then.
But that�s totally unrelated to the rest.
In another topic, I mention nudity and I said that the concept nudity = sexuality is a cultural concept too. A concept that many people, especially those coming from countries where it applies (eg. The US), think is universal. Except that it�s not. In France, nudity doesn�t necessarily mean sexuality, and vice-versa. In some other countries (I�m thinking Germanic and Scandinavian countries) the link between nudity and sexuality is even more tenuous.
But in the US, it�s different. In the US, nudity must mean sexuality, regardless of the fact that Americans must be naked at least when they bathe or when they change clothes, and I don�t think they necessarily have sex when they perform those two activities (and others).
But even if nudity doesn�t necessarily mean sexuality in France, nudity is still part of the private sphere (and in France, someone�s public and private spheres are well separated, but details about this will be provided another day)

That being said, and that was really the most important point of this post, this whole calendar thing is confusing.
No, it�s not common nor �normal� to run around naked and take pictures of each others naked with your male friends (nor your female friends), when you�re a heterosexual Frenchman. And even gay Frenchmen, I doubt they do that very much with their friends.

But, if the guy and his friends are part of a sports team, they must shower together on a regular basis after the game and so, they must be quite comfortable being naked around each other. Then, why not?
Especially if they�re rugby players and don�t have much imagination (do rugby players with much imagination exist? It�s up for debate and off-topic).

Why am I saying this?
Because a few years ago, the Paris rugby team (aka Le Stade Fran�ais) started to sell naked calendars of their players, that became hugely popular in two parts of the population: women (not all women, just young women that like rugby (a subspecies I never really understood)) and gay men. Because the funny thing was that the pictures had the gayest connotation and imagery I have ever seen in a mainstream thing, and neither the rugby players, nor their female fans seemed to be aware of it.
This calendar is being published every year, and in recent year a bunch of scary ersatz were released (naked farmers, naked truckers, you name it).

So, I�m assuming your man and his friends thought it was gonna be cool to have their own naked calendar�
Personally, I think it�s wrong on so many different levels (not morally wrong though), but that�s just me.

Finally, to respond to your PS: Here we�re touching an area that deals with the guy himself (no, not every French people have the same degree of honesty) and I have no idea if he means it or not, but as we�re in January now and you sent me this question a couple of months ago, maybe you can answer it.
So, did he mean it? Did he come to the US?

Frenchman Written by:


  1. Leesa
    January 27, 2009

    How come no one commented on this post?! It was such a hot topic!! ; )

  2. boulet
    March 19, 2009

    My personal experience might be a surprise and is hardly significant on a national level, but I have with my closest friends shared spontaneous bursts of nakedness. Typically it would happen when we’re far away from crowds, in a forest or at a secluded beach in Bretagne. We used to call it our “brainless” moments (we used this very English word). I don’t know if I can/want to explain this. Most of the time it was with my male friends but girls joined us on occasions. We didn’t plan it and we didn’t see it as sexual promiscuity. We rarely took pictures, though we know a couple have been stolen from a friend’s car at fete de l’Humanite 🙂

    During my military service I also had to take shower with other guys. The rule there was to play it casual. People who hide their body in the military collective bathroom were considered weirdos. People who would stare at others would feel strange too. So yeah I guess French guys can be quite casual about nudity, and they don’t have to feel threatened by other naked guys. Do you know it’s common to kiss on the cheek among close friends ? It’s an indicator to how close a friend is in many cases.

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