Report: Love in France in 2022

On spring weekends, young couples from Corbeil-Essonnes, southeast of Paris, stroll along the banks of the Seine. Most met in high school, on the edge of the city’s basketball courts or during a trip with friends to the Carré Sénart shopping center. From there, they exchanged their Snapchat accounts, got to know each other better online, and with the arrival of fine weather, the coast of this suburban town of fifty thousand inhabitants serves as a natural setting for a romantic getaway from nearby.

In these rural surroundings, where branches flow over the water and rows of swans glide, we hold hands or arm in arm, and we exchange a few kisses tenderly placed on the forehead or cheek. Here all this is allowed, but not in the “neighborhoods”.

At La Péniche, the neighborhood center of Montconseil, one of the city’s sensitive areas, Assia, 21, says: “In the neighborhood, couples do not kiss each other, they check on each other. Is absolutely wonderful because relationships outside of marriage are not allowed. Even talking about love is taboo. We were raised that way. I’ve never seen my parents kiss or hold hands. C “It’s a matter of modesty, of respect. And so here, everyone knows each other, we grew up together there is fear of rumors. Things are happening elsewhere “.

Elsewhere, there are other districts, but also the surrounding suburbs, and then Paris, forty-five minutes by RER, with a penchant for the Champs-Elysées.

It is absolutely wonderful because relationships outside of marriage are not allowed. Even talking about love is taboo. We were raised that way.

It also means looking elsewhere, choosing a “date” from another city, as Sihem, 17, decided to do: “Me, I no longer talk to the guys from Corbeil. I hate that everyone knows the guy I’m dating “Gossip, all that. If you talk to anyone further afield, there’s definitely no problem.”

The more serious it is, the more you have to hide

So many circumvention strategies need to be created for young people. A fortiori, when the lovers come from rival neighborhoods and engage in ancestral fights, in this case Tarterêts and Montconseil. This is the case with Mehdi, 23, and his girlfriend met at Doisneau high school. “A guy can go out with whoever he wants, but not a girl. If it becomes known that we are together, she can have problems with the guys in her neighborhood because they have stories with us. In the near future we want to “to get married so we have to be discreet. The more serious it is, the more we have to hide. And we will declare our union at the last minute, to prevent leaks from ruining our relationship.”

In Corbeil-Essonnes, as elsewhere, love is both an emotion and a social fact. As intimate and personal as it is, the feeling of love, and even more so the way of embodying it, reflects the state of a society. Through the choice of a partner, the meeting places, the way to form a couple and reveal it or not, come to express belonging to a territory, a generation, family and community pressure, or even women’s and men’s place in society.

We also read there the reproductive mechanism and the hope of social exaltation. “Me, I’m not in love with boys, but with money, claims 19-year-old Lamia proudly, who lives in Tarterêts. When you have a sum of money in your pocket, it always remains the same, whereas emotions disappear. The boys here have the small ambitions “Even those who are married and have children, they keep hanging around like when they were teenagers. If I want out of it, it’s on their own, starting a business or studying.”

Summer is approaching and soon the carnival will take place in the center of Corbeil-Essonne. On this neutral and festive ground, girls and boys from here and around for a few days will invite each other with their eyes, approach each other and start a conversation. So maybe a new love story can be born later, despite social taboos.

Report published in the magazine Marie Claire n ° 838, dated July 2022, published in June 2022

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