Les bises /(French) kissing


thoroughly enjoyed this post by Céline Graciet, a French born translator who lives in England. It reminded me so much of episodes when I was in the UK or in the States and had trouble deciding whether I should shake hands with people, give a hug, or just do nothing. The French are fond of kissing, and I am not talking of French kissing here ;).
She describes how English and French people who have been working together for a long time behaved during their last meeting:

A stiff handshake satisfied everyone in the beginning, but they have all become more comfortable with each other, and I’ve noticed the French have slowly been reverting to their natural habit, which is two pecks on the cheeks to say hello. So when our French host welcomed us last week, I noticed a movement, only to be spotted by a French eye: she was going to kiss the English partner I was standing next to. He remained firm.

This made Céline feel awkward and she finally kissed their hostess, which

which caused the usual domino effect

The whole thing of course made all the English participants quite uncomfortable.

Now I’ve experienced this sort of scene quite often, even with people who are long time friends and I always thought there should be some guide of etiquette to help people along.

Well, someone has actually thought of it, designing a map of French kissing habits, in Glaçons, Daniel’s personal blog. Daniel, an English guy living in Toulouse, says that the map

reveals the interesting fact that there is no standard French pattern for the number of kisses kissed. Some regions go for only one, others for three or four.

Petite anglaise, who’s been living in France for quite a while finds that

La bise is second nature to the French. For a foreigner like myself it is a minefield.

First of all, there is the matter of how many kisses you are supposed to bestow. In Paris the norm seems to be two. In certain Parisian suburbs however you are expected to give four (which must be time consuming when you have to take your leave of a party of ten people). In some regions three is the customary number. Many a time I have proffered my cheeks twice, only to find that I was expected to go two full rounds.

And don’t miss the comments that follow Petite Anglaise’s post!

Have you experienced anything like this, going abroad?


3 thoughts on “Les bises /(French) kissing

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