Today’s topic is kissing and I’m going to get all educational on you all. I’m sure one of the first things people associate with the word French is ‘French kissing’: an open mouthed kiss with tongue.
French kissing is great but kissing in France is really, REALLY complicated.
Most of you probably know that French people kiss on the cheeks when they meet each other, this is ‘faire la bise’ in French or, in English, French cheek kissing. Fairing la bise has some rules which you should keep in mind if you’ll ever be in France:
- Never kiss a waiter (I’ve made this mistake) or a server in a shop, French people look at you like you’re an alien and laugh their head’s off, trust me.
- If you’re a girl, you kiss everyone
- If you’re a guy, you kiss all the women and handshake the men (unless you’re good friends with them, in which case you kiss them)
- Whenever someone introduces you to one person, two people, or twenty people, you kiss every single one of them. This means that if you are invited to a party with one of your friends, you have to kiss everyone at that party and say hello
Initiating the kiss is simple because I’m a girl, meaning I simply kiss everyone I’m introduced too. At first, I’m not going to lie, it’s weird and I overthought it. I started wondering if I was hitting their cheek too hard or if they could smell my breath but there’s nothing to worry about on that side. The only slight thing you should worry about is which cheek to start kissing on. I think even French people have this problem because everyone is different, and I’ve seen my boyfriend almost bump faces with several people.
There are hundreds of thousands for the search: “faire la bise joue droite ou gauche” (meaning kissing the left or right cheek) on Google. This goes to show the difficulty that French people even have when deciding which cheek to go for.
Personally, I always head towards the right cheek, and if they clearly want me to start on the other one, then I will switch. However, weirdly, because I’m the girl, it puts me in a slight position of power to decide which cheek to kiss (don’t ask me why).
Secondly, how many times do we kiss? Again, this is a problem for even the French. Where I live, Aix-en-Provence, it’s two times 99% of the time. However, when I meet one of my boyfriend’s friends from up North or somewhere else, it can be three. I’ve never met anyone who does four but I have seen a lot of young people do four… maybe it’s a way to be cool.
Anyway, here’s a nice helpful chart that rings true to what I’ve experienced so far. But I can’t believe there’s a five kiss option, that’s a little too far for my liking.
Again, everyone’s different and if I suddenly decided I wanted to start doing three, people would follow that and give me three.
I tend to avoid the awkward situation of almost touching faces with someone by looking at how many times they kiss other people first and taking it from there.
So, I hope this has helped you understand how to faire la bise better in France, and if you’re ever there, you’ll now know what to do and not panic about it, like I did when I first moved to France.
I’d also like to mention something weird about kissing that I realised when I first came to France. I wrote a blog post called “Dating in France” that I soon after deleted due to my boyfriend (who I’d only been with for two months) seeing it and being embarrassed about it. I mentioned one very important point about dating in France that I’m going to repeat now.
Basically, if you go on a date with someone in France and you kiss them on that date, you are instantly their girlfriend/boyfriend. This includes a ‘first date’. Drunk, kisses don’t really meaning anything, especially during a plan cul (a one night stand) but if you then see them again and they kiss you, you no longer have a right to kiss anyone else.
Now, to most people in the world, this concept is insane. To the French, the idea that you’d kiss two or three or eight people at the same time is insane; it’s just the way things are done in France. I think it’s actually kind of nice. They respect that they are now interested in someone and therefore decide not to be interested in anyone else. Although, the French aren’t perfect, cheating does still happen and French people aren’t as romantic as some movies make them out to be.
This is part of a new series of mine. I will be talking about a subject from A-Z twice a week.
L: Leaving Aix