French sex toy sales explode ahead of Valentine’s

Heart-shaped boxes line shelves inside a store in Paris ahead of Valentine's Day.

But instead of housing roses or chocolates, they're stacked with the latest trending gift - sex toys.

Sales of intimate accessories have exploded in France in recent months.

COVID-19 restrictions have barred couples from the usual romantic dinners and getaways.

And prevented singles from mingling in bars and night clubs.

The Passage du Desir chain sells sex toys in the French capital.

Founder Patrick Pruvot says sales have surged since the end of last year:

"Traditionally, sex toys are a gift that does a lot better during Valentine's Day," Pruvot said. "This year, in addition, people can't spend their money on restaurants, maybe that plays into it, too."

In the three months leading up to this year's Valentine's Day, sales at the Passage du Desir's seven outlets jumped 68% on previous months.

The store's regulars say there are some benefits to having to spend more time at home.

"What can we do if we can't go out, when we have to be home at 6 p.m? Yes, this makes sense, this explains the increase in sales."

According to one study over half of French people used a sex toy in 2020.

But other countries have seen similar trends.

From Denmark to the usually conservative Colombia, sales of sex toys leapt early in the pandemic.

British lingerie chain Ann Summers reported higher sales during the first confinement.

But France is often described as a nation of seduction.

Author Elaine Sciolino wrote in her book on the subject: "seduction influences not just how the French relate to one another...but how they do business, elect politicians and enjoy food and drink."