Recently, I had a stopover in Paris. Just two days. But in those two days, I got my sexual lights turned back on, after a serious dimming in my hometown, New York. The moment I hit the Paris streets, all the attention and flirting made me feel appreciated. This aspect of French culture is particularly délicieux. Brigitte Trogneux, the first lady of France, 64, and Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, 39, literally rule, and hardly an eye was batted (over there) at their age difference. Actresses Isabelle Huppert, 62, and Catherine Deneuve, 73, are as sensual as ever and still playing sexy roles on-screen. Women after 40 are respected and desired as the viable sexual creatures they are. So we decided to ask around: How does attitude about aging and desirability change across the globe — and where’d you get your mojo back?
Place: Florence, Italy
So, tell us: I went to Florence after a breakup, feeling more plump than pretty — and I left feeling like Sophia Loren.
What is it about the culture there?: Italian men find the sexiness in women, regardless of the curves you, may or may not have. They find beauty in laugh lines, because they love to see a woman laugh. They find sexiness in experience, and experience comes with age.
Sexy factor: I know this is a huge generalization to make, but Italian men simply love women — flaws and all. —Carrie, 47
Place: New Orleans
So, tell us: I flirt more when I’m in New Orleans, and the men flirt back! After that, whatever happens in NOLA, stays in NOLA! So no details.
What is it about the culture there?: There’s just something about the heat, the humidity, the food, the French Quarter and the live-and-let-live atmosphere that makes you want to strip down to your slinkiest lingerie and get decadent and daring. Age becomes just what it is — a number.
Sexy factor: It’s impossible not to feel sexy in New Orleans … Hello Stella! —Mariann, 69
So, tell us: Jamaica makes me feel especially appreciated. The fun and carefree reception from Jamaicans is not about expectation; it’s about living in the moment.
What is it about the culture there?: Life moves at an unhurried pace and people are more spiritual, more holistic. Women there age gracefully, naturally — age is simply never an issue.
Nor is size and shape. It’s warm and sunny. The people are beautiful. The music gets you in the mood.
Sexy factor: There’s a sexual energy you can't deny. I am always my freest in Jamaica. —Sheryl, 50
Place: Dakar, Senegal
So, tell us: I was entranced by mbalax, the most popular music of Senegal, where the sexes "battle" on the dance floor to the beat of the drums. I got to the center of that floor and dance-fought with a gorgeous young man. And because everybody is watching, you’re moving in ways you didn’t know were possible!
What is it about the culture there?: Fashion in Dakar is like no other. The loosely woven skirts are meant to entice, and the clay bin bins worn around the waist bring out those feminine wiles. You can be any ole age, size, shape, and it’s welcome if you’ve got the confidence.
Sexy factor: It’s all about the drumbeat! From West Africa to the Caribbean, it’s what keeps the heightened sexuality flowin'! —Malene, 45
Place: Oaxaca, Mexico
So, tell us: Sitting in a restaurant downtown, a dashing Mexican man left his five companions to join our table — two 60-plus women and one 25-plus man. As he left, he leaned down into my ear and whispered, "I want to see you again. Will you give me your cell number?" "I'm married," I said, “to a Mexican man.” He walked but stood at the window, mimicked a cellphone to his ear and whispered "Please?"
What is it about the culture there: Home of the sensual Mexican American songstress Lila Downs and the matriarchal village of powerful women, Juchitán [de Zaragoza], Oaxaca's sex positivity is unlike any city on earth.
Sexy factor: Older women are often more fun and less inhibited — qualities that make them desirable in Oaxaca. —Patrice, 65
Place: Andalusia, Spain
So, tell us: Flamenco! I loved (pretending) to know flamenco, dancing in a small club where the locals go. The highlight of my night was my muy guapo dance partner proclaiming me “the Dominican Lola Flores” — the singing goddess of dance and my personal idol.
What is it about the culture there?: The Spanish schedule and siesta, their saunter and swagger and, of course, flamenco all heighten existing pleasures. While I love my native Dominican Republic, once you hit 50, you are considered a fossil.
Sexy factor: I feel alive in this culture. And men in Europe are fixated on women of color. I guess opposites attract. Voilà! —Isolda, 57
Maryjane Fahey is the editor of Disrupt Aging.