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With the help of Lily, who patiently pours me a glass of wine when I announce I’ve lost my i Tunes password, I download the happn app onto my i Phone. ” An hour later I’m in virtual cougar land and Lily is back in her flat. While I perform dull tasks like buying soap powder and ringing the council, men of all descriptions pour into my i Phone like molten lava – sporty, solvent-sounding men whose numbers shoot up whenever I step into busy parts of town.We only have one run-in, when Lily insists I leave the age range open. Even though I’m home alone on a Friday evening I’m told my paths have crossed with a doctor called Mark, 27, a business consultant called Mohammed, 24, and Fabrice, 28, a designer. I dash to the window, incredulous that these loveless pipsqueaks should be roaming my neighbourhood. It’s all quite cosmopolitan, though not specifically French – lots of Flavios and Dimitris in among the Jakes and Gavins.
He was unshaven, long-haired and handsome in a soul-in-torment sort of way.“Ten years ago we might have been ashamed about dating apps and websites,” says Nadia Bensalah, a 34-year-old advertising executive.“But now, if you’re not on them, you’re probably out of the game.” So what happens when two people – myself and a friend, James Innes – decide to test out France’s hip new app? Will we find that much desired coup de foudre or will we be wallflowers in our own town?“They don’t have time to look at other people.” Happn’s premise is that our lives are filled with “near misses”. When you cross paths with a fellow user, wherever you are, their profile photo pops up on your phone.That dream partner could be anybody in your vicinity – the craggy TV cameraman picking out an avocado at Tesco while you inspect the asparagus, the pretty lawyer sitting opposite you on the Tube to work. “The app is meant for shy people,” says Cosnard, who tells me she’s heard about people falling in love via happn. If you click on it a small map comes up showing (roughly) where your paths crossed, along with their (scant) personal details (generally just their first name, age and profession).