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It's also perfectly acceptable in France for men to walk up to a stranger in the street and ask them to go for a coffee, even at the risk of being knocked back.

But it's also important to be aware of ongoing debates about street harassment in French cities, says Jean-Baptiste, and such approaches should be done in a tactful manner; cat-calling should not be confused for flirting. It can mean persuading someone to go to bed with you, yes, but it is also used more generally in the sense of charming other people of either sex.

In Sweden visitors may be deceived into thinking that flirting does not exist, since two strangers rarely exchange glances, a wink or a telling smile.

But come the weekend, Swedes, both men and women, let loose.

Brits are boorish, French flatter, Scandinavians play it cool and Italians get intimate.

Cantina, a 30-something American woman working for an international organisation in The Hague with three Dutch boyfriends under her belt, said: "In the Netherlands you have eye contact and approach men, they don't approach you.In Britain, flirting tends to be alcohol-fuelled to cover up fears of intimacy and rejection; although, as dating expert Jean-Baptiste Trannoy reminds us of the reference 'Dutch courage', it would be fair to say that alcohol-induced flirting is common in many parts of the world."The British male is either reticent, tongue-tied and awkward, or boorish and crass, and he usually consumes too much alcohol.British girls, used to the drunken pub environment back home, can be taken aback during trips across the Channel to France unused to a sudden rush of compliments and open flirtation."Frenchmen are less sexually obvious, there is less banter and they are more direct.

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