It made a big impression on me - I fear mostly for the worst reasons! But it led to a couple of years in which I would go and see just about any French movie (with subtitles, of course), especially from New Wave directors, culminating in a couple of visits to Paris in my middle twenties.
From scores I watched, I probably thoroughly-enjoyed about three of these films - and I don't enjoy any of them now (L'amour en fuite seems painfully clumsy and clunky!); but I kept on going back, hoping to recapture whatever-it-was.
The word that sums-up this era is pretentious.
I don't say that the French movies were to blame for this, nor were they the only element; but the fact is that I did have a secret, rather ashamed, fantasy life about being the kind of alter-ego hero which the French directors (always?) put into their movies - a famous but pleasantly-tormented artistic genus who has elfin women throwing themselves at him - and who always yields in the end, after due examination of conscience. Or else who is obsessed by some initially-reluctant gamine creature - and who always yields in the end, after due examination of conscience.
In retrospect, I can see that my would-be or actual girlfriends at this time were often selected somewhat on this basis - as potentially fitting-into this general milieu either psychologically or visually (with predictably unsatisfactory consequences; mostly - of course - for them. Sorry!).
All this against a backdrop (maybe monochrome?) of cafes, bars, restaurants, bookshops, Citroen DS cars and Le Metro.
This was about not merely being 'an intellectual' but being a public intellectual - in the sense of doing one's thinking and writing in public, on display (for admiration, implicitly) - presumably seated at the table of some pavement café on the Left Bank.... Being covertly photographed by tourists perhaps?
So, there was nothing very noble or sophisticated about my French Phase - it was wishful thinking of the most unrealistic and hedonistic type.
From my incomplete, snapshot autobiography: http://luckyphilosopher.blogspot.co.uk/