Les Bises — A Guide to the French and Kissing

When I talk about the French and kissing, surely your mind goes straight to the “french kiss”. What is it with the French and kissing? They seem to be the only nationality to stake a claim on a whole genre of kiss. Given their reputation as lovers and for public displays of affection, I say they deserve it. But their love of kissing is not confined just to romance and locking lips.

Paris Rendezvous

The French kiss their friends, they kiss their family, they kiss their colleagues…they even kiss strangers! In fact in many situations, it would be rude not to kiss anyone, imagine that! But of course these french kisses are very different from the “french kiss”. That would be considered what we call a bisous of sorts in French.

What I want to talk about is a kiss on the cheek, or several. In France we call these les bises, meaning the casual kisses on the cheek we use to say hello and goodbye. They come in bundles of two, three, and in some regions even four! Typically you would start on the left side, but every once in a while people start on the side you didn’t expect and the two of you will almost end up locking lips! Awkward and of kind of adorable.

All of that kissing means you shouldn’t be alarmed if your boyfriend comes home with some lipstick on his cheek…c’est normal! But you’ll never be guilty of such offences with the new Matte Shakers. They’re transfer free, meaning they go on your lips and stay there, instead of your friends' faces. It’s the most kissable lip product I’ve ever owned for sure, which is indispensable here in France. I can’t get enough of Beige Vintage, and now that you have that little beauty secret, here is a quick crash course in les bises!

Les bises in...

Social Settings — When greeting our friends in France we always employ les bises. It is the polite way to greet friends and friends of friends (even if you are meeting for the first time!). Yes, this means when walking into a party or sitting down at a table, if it’s physically possible you should go around and kiss everyone on the cheek when you arrive, and when you leave.

Professional Meetings — When meeting work contacts for the first time, never use the kisses. A nice handshake will usually do for the first several meetings. Once you know each other a bit, say having talked about life outside of work, it’s okay to be more casual and use les bises when arriving and leaving, especially between women.

Amongst Colleagues — Most of us see our colleagues every day, so we know them well. In this case, you can use les bises when greeting them and saying goodbye. However, since it would be a bit exhausting to kiss everyone hello and goodbye at the office everyday most people don’t feel obliged every time and this isn’t considered rude.

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