“I’m a 46-year-old woman – not married, no children – perusing a French dating app”

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A month in Paris pursuing pleasure sounds like a plot out of a Netflix rom-com. It’s something many of us might daydream about – but few follow through on the fantasy. New York writer Glynnis MacNicol, however, is a woman of action as well as words. 

After months living alone during Covid, the author looked to redress the balance via an impromptu adventure in the City of Light – entirely devoted to hedonism. Renting an apartment in Paris over summer 2021, McNicol immersed herself into a five-week whirlwind of friendship, rosé, patisserie, parks and dating Parisian men. 

The whole, deliciously joyful experiment went so well McNicol even wrote a book about it. I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself: One Woman’s Pursuit of Pleasure in Paris is out this month. It explores not only McNicol’s own experiences in Paris, where she already had a solid group of friends – but also what pleasure means more generally for women like her, who are single, child-free and in their 40s or 50s (an age, she says, that society tells us “promises little enjoyment”). 

I’ve exempted myself from the  things we’re told give a woman’s life meaning

“I was extremely aware during Covid of how few stories there are simply about women and pleasure that are not also tied to the marriage plot or the baby plot,” explains MacNicol. “Both valid plots, but I was trying to expand the horizons a little bit, and that’s what this book is about.”

MacNicol’s story is dedicated to the true art of female enjoyment: wild, spontaneous, visceral delights, and not the things we think we “should” be doing. “The weeks in Paris are filled with friendship and food and sex,” her book blurb reads. “There is dancing on the Seine; a plethora of gooey cheese; midnight bike rides through empty Paris; handsome men; afternoons wandering through the empty Louvre; nighttime swimming in the ocean off a French island. And yes, plenty of nudity.” 

Inspired? Below, we’ve picked a few of our favourite quotes from I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself, as well as interviews with MacNicol, to fuel your own unleashed pursuit of pleasure somewhere new…

 

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A post shared by Glynnis MacNicol (@noonetellsyouthis)

“I’m in Paris for the month. A 46-year-old woman (47 in a few weeks), no partner, no children. An age and situation we are told promises little enjoyment. And yet, since re-emerging into the world, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. And I want more.”

Via the Guardian

“I feel for the first time in a very long time that I am in full control of myself. I’m also vaguely aware that I have become the very thing we are taught to fear, a woman unafraid of her own desires, freed from the expectation of asking permission to satisfy them, even briefly there’s not a shred of shame.”

Via Glynnis MacNicol’s book, I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself

There’s so much shame and guilt around women having a good time

“What I share with women at this table is the common language of not being married and not having children. It is an enormous relief to not have to translate my life or feel like I am reporting from a foreign country, editing my story accordingly.”

Via Glynnis MacNicol’s book, I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself

“I’m a 46-year-old woman—not married, no children—currently perusing a French dating app called Fruitz. I’m not prepared to be this desired. Even though I have asked for it, so to speak, I did not expect so many to answer.”

Via Glynnis MacNicol’s book, I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself

 

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A post shared by Glynnis MacNicol (@noonetellsyouthis)

“There’s so much shame and guilt around women having a good time. I want to provide one happy story that isn’t tied to finding a partner or a wedding or a baby. Let’s have one that’s like, I’m just being hedonistic and naked and eating whatever I want.”

Via Vogue

“It was just hedonistic and joyful, and there was very little thought involved. It was almost instinctual. Like, I just wanted everything pleasurable as much as possible, as quickly as possible, as frequently as possible. […] I just couldn’t get out of my clothes quickly enough. I just wanted to be held, I wanted to be touched.” 

Via public radio network, NPR

It was hedonistic and joyful, with very little thought involved

“The menu is so thick with butter and sugar and fat it feels like a photo that is slow to load and come into focus. I have to stare at it for a while. Words like Pork Belly, Duck Confit, Lobster Benedict, Salmon Millefeuille, Champignon, Fried Brioche, Honey and Cinnamon Fromage Blanc, Eggs Cocotte (it sounds like they are flashing some leg). This, I think, is why the French are so strict with language and behaviour (and for a long time, dress). They must counterbalance the excess of the butter and the skin and the sex.”

Via Glynnis MacNicol’s book, I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself

“It’s not just in enjoying my age that I’m defying expectations. It’s that I’ve exempted myself from the central things we’re told give a woman’s life meaning — partnership and parenting. I’ve discovered that despite all the warnings, I regret none of those choices. Indeed, I am enjoying them immensely.” 

Via The New York Times

Glynnis MacNicol’s book, I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself: One Woman’s Pursuit of Pleasure in Paris, is out now.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

 

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