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Le French Kiss!

No Not that one! the other one! La bise, Faire la bise!

a couple doing La bise
Then french kiss: La bise

La bise, the French kiss is such a french thing isn't it? There are English people who loathes it, others who love it. I personally love it!


Well I find it's a great way to acknowledge someone. In the UK (and other anglophone countries) we may wave acroos the street, pop your hand up, or say a group "hey"when you arrive at a party and aother "cheers" when you leave, without ever having acknoweldged who is present. By the bise I see it as " I have seen and acknowledged YOU". And that is exactly how I see it.

Others may not like the close proximity and find it invasive. We can draw the line however though at a party! When you say that you are going; you have to allow at least 30 minutes to allow for, not only la bise to everyone in the room, but also polite conversation with each! Goodbyes can take a LONG time in France!

Now the big question that always arises is "How many?" and "Which cheek do you start on?"

I personally believe that not even the French know the answer to the first question! Generally it's four in the north, 3 in the south and 2 everywhere in between, however, on researching this I found that they have MAPS showing how many in each area!

Map of la bise in France
How many French kisses?

For many years, my time was spent either in Les Hauts de France (dept 62) and le Nord (59), (where the family of the father of my children lived) and in the Loire Atlantique (44) (where I lived for 20 years) and yes it was 4, especially for close friends and family. Now that I am in the Charente (16) it's 2. But there are always those that break the rule. I remember my ex family-in-law, all from departements 59 and 62, were doing doing the 4...except one Uncle who always insisted on 2, which always confused me!

Now three kisses would just seem odd to me, as if we had stopped half way, or gone over!

Of course, faire la bise to your boss is a big no no where the kiss stays locked away and a handshake is the norm. It's custom for everone, on arrival at work, to go round and shake hands with all your colleagues, and if you don't you are certainly seen as sauvage or froid and is certainly frowned upon. Then comes to shaking hands with those that have dirty hands, the farmers, mechanics etc, and this is where they offer you an elbow to shake! The French have a solution to everthing!

Now, the other question, left or right cheek first? And yes they have a map for this too!!!

Map for left or right French kiss
La bise, left or right first?

The right cheek is offered first in the north and the left in the south! I can confirm that in the regions I have lived it has always been the right, which conforms to the map! There is nothing worse or more embarassing that both clashing in the middle, so I do tend to wait slightly to see which way the other moves and adjust if needed!

And please there is NO need to make the moowah sound so obvious as so many English do! Simple and discreet is the French way (and this runs through everything, how they eat, talk, dress, decorate but more on that another time).

What are you experiences of La bise? and do you doing it or not? Let me know in the comments!

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