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The French and Romance: Hand in Hand for a Millenia
While it is true that the French did not invent the concept of romance, they did create many romantic ideals, which have influenced Western concepts for over nine-hundred years. The history of these concepts is at once fascinating and enlightening.
The idea of courtly love does claim origin in eleventh-century France. At this time, it found a voice in poems and songs written by troubadours. These poets were the first to compose and perform in local vernacular language as opposed to the more traditional Greek and Latin. The ideas expressed by the troubadours centered on chivalry and the stages of courtly love. Courtly love was not marital love, but took place outside of marriage, typically between a lady of high social standing and an admirer. This contributed to the notion that true love came from an irrational and passionate attraction that did not work within the confines of marriage.
STAGES OF COURTLY LOVE
• Attraction to a lady
• Adoration of the lady
• Declaration of fervent affection
• Honorable rebuff by the lady
• Rekindled pursuing of the lady with vows of integrity and undying fidelity
• Laments of impending death from unfulfilled yearning
• Heroic actions designed to earn the lady’s affection
• Consummation of the clandestine passion
• Endless escapades and schemes avoiding discovery
The stages typically followed this order, but love leaves room for improvisation. The troubadours were the first poets in the Western world to view love between a man and a woman as a worthy topic of composition. Some historians claim that the poems had no basis in reality, but many assert the troubadours were composing based on first-hand knowledge.
The self-gratifying notion of gallantry gradually displaced the long-suffering and heart-wrenching structure of courtly love. Where courtly love was rooted in deep devotion, gallantry had its roots in hedonistic gratification and seduction. Gallants had multiple relations taking place at the same time. There was no notion of one beloved recipient of love. Gallantry united those who responded to desires with no concern for love. By the seventeenth century, Gallantry digressed to an unsavory form of successive seduction and began to fall out of favor.
Amour-Passion rose as a middle ground between serial seduction and sincere sentimentality. It was a fusion of matters of passion and matters of love. Up to this point, culturally these were decidedly separate entities. By blending the two, the French created a way of uniting fidelity and passion. The same intense seduction and flirtation take place, but they focus on one’s beloved. In the eighteenth- century the ability to love is closely tied to the idea of worth. Amorous feelings showed a person’s true character. Jean-Jacques Rousseau galvanized this idea when his writings encouraged lovers to freely and openly express deep emotions every chance they could.
Nineteenth Century through Today
In French literature, there are multitudes of types and expressions of love. Just a few examples of the various themes include:
• Narcissistic/Neurotic love where the lover centers on himself/herself instead of the beloved
• The paradigm of French the fostering of young men’s appreciation for, and sexual desire for, older women
• Acceptance of infidelity
As recently as the late nineteenth century, French literature promoted the assumption that true love did not exist with a spouse. Ideas have evolved through the years, monogamy became the norm, and some of the melodramatic expressions of love and passion have subsided. It seems the French inclination to eroticize everything will endure and this continues to fascinate the rest of the world.
French Love and romance FAQ
Why is France known as the land of love and romance?
France has a long and rich history of love and romance. French culture is known for its emphasis on sensuality, pleasure, and the art of seduction. French people are also known for their appreciation of beauty and their love of life.
What are some of the most famous French love stories?
– The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
– Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
– Héloïse and Abélard by Peter Abelard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil
– La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils
– Tristan and Iseult by Chrétien de Troyes
– Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost
– Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
– Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
– The Lover by Marguerite Duras
– Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
– Hiroshima Mon Amour by Marguerite Duras
– The Last Metro by François Truffaut
– Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
What are some of the most romantic places in France?
Some of the most romantic places in France include:
– Paris: The City of Love
– The French Riviera: A glamorous coastline with stunning beaches and picturesque towns
– The Loire Valley: A region dotted with fairytale castles and charming villages
– The Alps: Majestic mountains with breathtaking views
– Bordeaux: A city known for its wine and romance
What are some French love and romance traditions?
Some French love and romance traditions include:
– Giving flowers: Flowers are a popular gift for lovers in France. Red roses are the traditional flower of love, but other flowers such as lilies and tulips are also popular.
Kissing on the cheek: Kissing on the cheek is a common greeting among friends and family in France. However, it can also be a romantic gesture, especially between lovers.
– Writing love letters: (not a whatsapp! LOL) Love letters are still popular in France, even in the age of email and social media. Writing a love letter is a way to express your deepest feelings for someone.
– Taking romantic walks: French people love to take romantic walks, especially in the evening. This is a great way to bond with your partner and enjoy the beauty of France.
– Going on a picnic: Picnics are another popular romantic activity in France. Pack a basket with your favorite foods and drinks and enjoy a meal together in a beautiful setting.
What are some tips for having a romantic getaway in France?
Here are some tips for having a romantic getaway in France:
– Choose a romantic destination: France has many romantic destinations to choose from, such as Paris, the French Riviera, and the Loire Valley.
– Book a romantic hotel or bed and breakfast: There are many romantic hotels and bed and breakfasts in France. Look for one with a charming atmosphere and amenities such as a spa or a gourmet restaurant.
– Plan romantic activities: There are many romantic activities to enjoy in France, such as taking walks along the Seine River in Paris, visiting fairytale castles in the Loire Valley, or enjoying a sunset cruise on the French Riviera.
– Don’t forget the details: Pack some special items for your trip, such as candles, flowers, and a bottle of champagne. These little touches can make your getaway even more romantic.