The Kiss 1901-4 by Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

And then how many times?!

Greeting French people in France is a complicated matter. Rather than shaking hands, waving hello or hugging, people often greet each other with a kiss.

So, when exactly do you use a kiss as a greeting? To whom? And, most important of all, how many kisses? Socially, of course, but in my experience, at work too. When I first started teaching in a French secondary school, it was a little surprising to walk into the staff room and shake hands with everyone and then, when I knew everyone better to ‘faire la bise’. On reflection, I rather liked it!

But how many kisses and why the variation? Where you are in France will determine how many kisses you give but even this isn’t a given. Different people have different opinions! It may be twice, three or even four.

The next question is who exactly do you kiss? When you meet someone for the first time, you don’t usually kiss, you shake hands or say hello. With friends, as your friendship develops a handshake will become a bise.  Family members almost always greet each other with a kiss. Young people kiss one another a lot! I was very aware of this in the playground when I was teaching in France but again I thought this was rather sweet.

Even men will greet one another with a kiss but not quite nearly as often as it happens between two women or a woman and a man.

All in all, it can be quite confusing and I tend to take my lead from the French themselves. This can also work when wondering whether to use tu or vous.

Where do you stand in the kissing debate? I’d love to know!

I am adding this post to the #AllAboutFrance monthly linky; a great place to sample lots of interesting blog posts connected to France.