How many kisses?

Bretonne sent me an email with a link to this map from a blog called Strangemaps.

it gives an insight into the French custom of kissing but the main problem is that the rules are variable and, in my experience, even French people are inconsistent.

Take our region, for example. According to the map we are a four-kiss area and many of my friends would agree with that. However, you can never be sure that the person you greet is going for the full number. Many is the time I’ve expected four and only had two – and vice versa! The older men tend to go for four -and they can be sloppy -whereas the ladies are more inclined to stop at two, barely brushing your cheek.

According to some people the French are quite sensitive about the etiquette of greetings. If you have progressed from handshaking to kissing with someone then it is almost an insult to revert to handshaking the next time you meet. (In the same way that it is very rude to say ‘vous’ after you have agreed to say ‘tu’.)

Since everyone greets everyone else at any gathering I always try to arrive early so that there are not so many people to remember (as it is up to newcomers to do the rounds). If people stood still it wouldn’t be a problem but there’s always a chance you will offer your hand or cheek to someone and they’ll tell you we’ve already said hello. However, most folks will smile and say something like “better twice than not at all!”

Children tend to kiss everyone at first meeting – but just once. Even the boys are expected to kiss men when they are introduced. Of course, most men will kiss other men in their family and good friends will do likewise. I remember how Bear was taken aback at first when given a hug and kiss by a Frenchman!

After six years I’m kind of used to the custom and inadvertently confound English visitors by going for at least two kisses when they arrive. However, in our household we don’t kiss one another several times every morning so we’re not fully integrated yet!


7 Responses to “How many kisses?”

  1. Little old me Says:

    you will wear your lips out! Ha ha

  2. Sophie Says:

    Excellent post Sandy, I hadn’t realized we do all that but everything you said is true!!!

  3. BearNaked Says:

    All the French Canadians I have met have been two kisses.
    Except for my father-in-law, he was a three kisses person.
    I really miss that gentle man.

    Bear((( )))

  4. canisfamiliaris Says:

    At least it’s bettefr than that dreadful ‘air kissing’ that some people do over here!! mmwwaaa!!


  5. tillylil Says:

    I think I’ll stick to the British formal hand shake – too much garlic in French Food

  6. guyana gyal Says:

    Haha, Canis, my cousin and I make a big show of air-kissing, “Mwah dahlin’,” playing it to the hilt.

    Here it used to be one kiss…then people started travelling and Muslim women discovered two kisses, then some discovered three. It gets confusing 🙂

  7. mythster Says:

    My wife is a Parisian and we’ve been married forever (or 33 years if you want hard facts) my mother-in-law was born in Paris as well and for 33 years she has consistantly addressed me with”vous”. Last summer I met a male friend who she’d met at a bridge party a few months before she introduced me to hin”. She says “tu” to Jean and they met less than six months ago and vous to me and I’ve been married to her daughter “forever”

    I’ve decided that I won’t be staying at her place any more when I go to Paris. It would be like “sleeping with a stranger”

    No love lost there then!

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