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la bise— kissing greeting

If you never knew if you should do two, three, or four little cheek pecks, or your glasses always got entangled, you can now thank the Coronavirus for saving you from embarrassment. The French Health Minister has suggested people stop the traditional kiss greeting for now. Will the ubiquitous hand shakes be next?

Posted by
4943 posts

Well, a double fist bump (left, then right) can be quite charming.

Posted by
285 posts

It doesn't matter for a tourist how many bises is the right number - you don't bise people on first meeting, and by the time you are on bise'ing terms you will have seen plenty of examples of how many is appropriate for the region/country you are in.

And it's obvious that "charming" has a different meaning in North America. Don't be offended if a French person ignores your attempt to be charming as some wierd juvenile mis-step.

Posted by
6748 posts

My post was done tongue-in-cheek.

But since Simon is answering seriously, I’ll clarify that I’ve been in many social situations, meeting friends of family or friends of friends, in which we do the cheek kiss on first contact. I’ve worked in places in France where we kissed everyone hello in the morning and in others that a morning handshake was de rigueur. Missing the social cue on these can have consequences. Coming from the giant back-pat country, I had to get over any hesitation about breath or goo on cheeks pretty quickly or offend the in-laws.

And number of bises isn’t always related to region: my Parisian husband insists on four, almost everyone I know, it's four, but it can be confusing.

Posted by
1141 posts

I read a news story on no bise this morning or last night, but then saw a few people doing it at lunch today.

Posted by
285 posts

Stan. The secret to criticising someone for not having a sense of humour is to ensure that you recognise various forms of humour before you do so.

But I was actually also making a valid point - as an "etranger" the bise thing needn't worry one.

Posted by
1141 posts

"Where's ya sense of 'umor, pal? That's 'umor!"

--Tony Clifton

Posted by
11704 posts

Fond memory. On my first visit to France one of my goals was to get a bise (biz?) from a French woman. Seems like a weird goal, but I like to experience culture.

It didn't take long. Traveling solo I was walking past a Paris cafe mid-day my first day. A group of about a dozen twenty-something French woman were lunching. They were taking their friend, a bride-to-be, out for a day. They had a scavenger hunt for the bride. One of which was to find an American and pretend he was her long lost love. I played along and after a lot of laughter most of the women gave me a bise goodbye.

Most often it's more of an air kiss than an actual kiss on the cheek (depending on how intimate you are/want to be) and probably less likely to be contagious than a handshake.

Posted by
4943 posts

Well the Chinese have come up with an innovative solution. Google the "Wuhan Shake" and you'll see.

Posted by
5700 posts

La bise is in fact pretty common in meeting friends of friends in our experience and we have been offered it often in France with new acquaintances

these days hand shaking is nuts and la bise probably not a great idea although less risky than hand shakes.

Posted by
5397 posts

A very proper, elegant (French) friend of mine at work informed us all in no uncertain terms last Friday that there would be no more bises among us until this thing is past!

Posted by
1453 posts

Better blow kisses or bises for the moment?

Posted by
5397 posts

Blowing kisses will only add more droplets in the air!!!

Posted by
6125 posts

Better blow kisses

NO, NO, NO,

Do not blow the germs at other people

Posted by
1453 posts

Yeah, that’s not going to work. One get the kisses and with a bit of cross wind somebody else the germs.

Posted by
6125 posts

using a "butt bump" in place of the Wuhan shake

The 'butt -bump' will not work in the US. That would bring on a harassment lawsuit so fast...........

Posted by
5817 posts

We could just say "hello". Why the need for physical contact in the first place?.......not a hugger