You don’t have to be slim or beautiful to get a kiss or a bise in France, it’s part of everyday life to kiss on greeting and on leaving sometimes. That could be friends, family or complete strangers, the latter are often a little put out if you don’t proffer a cheek on meeting so be warned. Once, twice, thrice or four times in some regions, how many kisses depends how well you know someone and what area they are from. Here’s the Love French Style guide to the getting the greeting right.
Bonjour Ca Va?
Not to be confused with a French kiss which would NOT be an appropriate greeting and may result in arrest, a cheek kiss is a polite way to greet in France. As much part of saying goodmorning and asking how someone is, giving a kiss in France is seen as a warm hello, as in many other parts of Europe. In fact, it can be seen as quite rude not to. Not just for close friends and family, kisses are a normal greeting at work, home, school and in public. In my first job in France it took me a good ten minutes to get round the whole office kissing and ca va ing my way to my desk each morning! Unsure how many to give? You can use this little French Kiss Map to check here.
The French greeting kiss is so ingrained in culture that there’s no exception when it comes to who you choose to kiss. Stubbly, toothless or dashingly handsome, the treatment is the same for everyone – good or bad! To Faire Les Bises is part of everyday society although often the boss will refrain from giving a bise unless its Christmas, preferring a traditional handshake instead.
From School, Work and Beyond
I’ve noticed that even in school, it is very acceptable that a teacher and the assistants, even the dormitory staff will kiss a pupil on arrival and departure from school, particularly in maternelle, the French nursery equivalent. As naturally as a smile would come, a kiss and a gentle hug is a reassuring sign that school is a family environment where teachers and children express emotion towards each other.
Left Or Right First?
Where do you start? Left or right and how do you avoid that awkward cross over bit when you nearly plant someone on the lips in the middle? Well, start on the left and you should be alright, regardless of how many kisses you end up giving. Word of warning…ex pats ( usually over 50s with with beards ) always get this wrong which could be why you end up kissing them (unintentionally) slap bang on the lips at those summer barbecues! Er, awkward.
For more about why the French kiss on greeting, read here.
Good luck mwaa mwaa x