Adultery and Scooters

Adultery – relations of a sexual with someone other than, one’s spouse or partner. Adultery, that which « thou shalt not commit » thunders the seventh commandment. In France though, cheating on your loved one has long been considered as a national sport. Even President Hollande enjoys a spot of extra-relational horizontal jogging, as do 43% of the population. There is even a website, dedicated to finding one’s extra-marital soul mate. The site boasts nearly 2 million members.

Be it a sex friend, a one night stand or a long term affair, 32% of French women and 55% of men admit to having been unfaithful, and if they haven’t actually committed adultery, 76% of men and 67% of women have at least thought about it.

The infidelity figures come from a poll commissioned by Gleeden website and come at a time when recent presidential misdemeanours are still headline news. Carried out by IFOP on 804 people, the poll reveals that the worst offenders in the cheating stakes are 55 year-old men – 66% of them admit to having a spot of extra curricular tuition – proof that being over 50 is not synonymous with being over the hill.

The poll also bears out that old saying « Hell hath no fury … ». Two thirds of women polled said that they could not accept their partner’s adultery, whereas only a third of men were in the same frame of mind.  On the whole, 67% of participants considered that you could be unfaithful but still love your partner.

So, are these statistics in the slightest bit shocking? They certainly confirm what we all knew – infidelity is written into the French marriage vows. On the shock side though, when compared to the Americans and the Brits, the French are actually lagging behind. According to figures on one American website: ( a 57% of men and 54% of women admit to committing adultery in at least one long term relationship they have had. This puts the French and American male of the species more or less on the same footing – the world over, boys will be a boy. It seems though, that French ladies are not as deviant as those across the pond, or (and knowing French ladies well), they simply won’t admit. Ah those lovely French women. Beguiling, charming, loving and ever so discreet – well this is France. We don’t do tearful public confessions to admit our misconduct.

On her knees, Monica Lewinsky almost brought the Presidency to its knees – a very public presidential prime time TV mea culpa and wifely forgiveness kept Bill Clinton as « the Comeback kid » even if he only came once with « that woman » (as he qualified Ms Lewinsky.) For sure, you won’t see François Hollande on French TV admitting misdemeanour with the gorgeous Ms Gayet – No one actually cares – in fact the latest « shocking fact » that seems to be causing national indignation is the choice of presidential scooter on which Mr Hollande was whisked to his secret rendez-vous – a Piaggio – an Italian scooter! The shame of it. National carmaker’s Peugeot make very good scooters and they could have done with the free publicity.

Yes the 200-year-old Sochaux-based company, is in financial dire straits. Forced to shut down their British operation in 2006, then forced to close plants near Paris, Peugeot have only been saved with Chinese capital and state intervention. The Chinese Dongfeng Motor Corporation has just bought a 14% share in the French motor company. This has been matched by the French government, who also bought a similar share – « unwilling to let a major French car company fall under foreign control » – according to a government spokesman. So with the state now holding a 14% share of Peugeot, François Hollande could at least ride a Peugeot scooter on his nocturnal forays into Paris to meet Ms Gayet. After all, it is Mr Hollande who regularly implores us all to « Achetez Français » – a little more French brand fidelity please Monsieur le President.

And so we close on more adulterous statistics – gleaned from the Daily Mail website. Between 25% o 70% of British men and 40% to 80% of British women admit to having had at least one extra marital sexual encounter. Where does this leave the French? – « Oh, perfide Albion ».