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Culture

The French go Shopping for L'amour

Forget the lonely hearts column in the local paper. After telephone and Internet dating, there's a new service for singles in France. Now you can find Mr. or Ms. Right while doing your shopping at the supermarket.

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Oh, you like citrus too?

Ah, the romance of Paris. Love is around ever corner in the City of Lights and now, you can even run into it while reaching for yogurt and stocking up on pasta. Aiming to play matchmaker, or at least help the lonely find each other, a French supermarket has begun organizing a singles' night every Thursday evening.

Lafayette Gourmet, a high-end grocery story in Paris, is testing out the concept with an event sponsored by Internet company Yahoo France. Yann Motte, the company's director of products and services, said it's a very efficient way to spend one's evening. Effectively killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

“As you know there are many singles who are looking for other people. If they work a lot or have a busy life, they may not meet as many people as they would like to,” Motte told Deutsche Welle. “On the other hand, they have to do shopping. So why not make shopping, which is a bit of a dull activity, something a little more fun, a little more friendly?”

The concept is pretty simple. You show up and take a purple shopping basket. And then you supposedly do your shopping as you normally would. You go through the aisles. Pick up some juice, maybe some tomatoes and try to look casual. Or at least, casually available. All the singles will be holding identical purple baskets, so the idea is that you identify each other and make contact. Effectively, it means there will be a lot of checking out going on inside the store as well as at the cash register.

Yogurt and your phone number

As silly as the plan sounds to some, with an estimated there are 600,000 single people in the French capital, there appears to be plenty of demand. The 28 year-old Jerome, for example, has tried internet dating but he was frustrated by the fact you can't see the person or talk naturally. So he was quite enthusiastic about the idea of meeting real-life women in a real-life environment.

“I'm here to flirt. Or trying to flirt, meet women. I think I read about this in the paper and in a magazine, Cosmopolitan I think,” he said. Although he had items in his basket he admitted, however, that he didn’t really need to shop. Instead the food was merely cover: “I actually went shopping three days ago, but I couldn't just walk around with an empty basket!”

Frau wählt Getränk aus

Shopping sure works up a thirst.

With the night meaning brisk business for Lafayette Gourmet, singles can even ring up their shopping at a cash register reserved for them. And if you do happen to meet someone interesting, you can have a drink together at a happy hour located in the drinks section of the store.

The bar area is nestled between the bottles of vintage wine and 12-year-old whiskey and on singles night, it's buy one drink, get one free. Perhaps most importantly, the unflattering florescent lights of the dairy section are far, far away.

Lafayette Gourmet will continue with the single nights until December. If the company is happy with the results it will make the event permanent and will consider bringing the concept to stores around the country. That could mean fewer French singles have to go home alone...or hungry.

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