In France: how many kisses?

In France, between the 21st of January (International Day of affection) and 14th of February (Saint Valentin, be it French Valentine’s Day ), kisses are a must. And even more than kisses of love, it is the repeated kisses to friends or acquaintances that catch the attention of international visitors.

Is France surprising not only because of the numerous occasions for kissing – a tradition that the English, Americans or Japanese find it difficult to understand – but also because of the difficulty in knowing the exact ritual to be followed?

The “bise” does not have a single rule. Each region or each territory has its traditions regarding the number of kisses to be exchanged as well as the side to be kissed first. The most frequent number is two. This is the case in the regions of Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyon, Nice, Paris , as well as in Auvergne, or in the islands of the French Caribbean and Guyana.Nantes, capital of 4 kissesBrittany once again showed its specificity. Whoever goes to its west coast will only have to give one kiss, while in Nantes , the former capital of the Duchy, the right thing is to kiss four times. The same tradition of four kisses can be found in the Vendée, Normandy, Champagne and much of Burgundy, which thus share the title of most kissing regions in France. In the Center South, in Avignon and in the Montpellier region, tradition stopped at three kisses. Finally, it can be seen that Corsica has two, but that it has 18% supporters of five!

The French kissing map has gained credibility and notoriety over the past two years when published the results of a national survey of French ways of greeting each other.Kiss KissWith more than 100,000 responses collected in over five years, the results highlighted not only the number of kisses but also the side – left or right – where the first kiss should be given.

At this point the rules seem simpler, the first kiss being overwhelmingly given on the right side in North, West and Central France as well as the French Caribbean, with the exception of Normandy and the Swiss border regions. In the extreme south, from the Pyrenees to the French Riviera, as well as in the valley of the Rhône river and in the Alps, start on the left side.

Respect for traditions also requires knowing who should be greeted with kiss(s). At this point, the French are generous, a shock to British or American visitors who, perhaps because they are confused with “French kiss”, find it difficult to accept this “social kissing”. Kiss friends, friends of friends, and co-workers.kisses in ProvenceKisses for the opposite sex, once exclusive to women or family members, has also become widespread for men, at least for bosom friends, adopting a very strong tradition in Marseille and Corsica . The success of this kissing map reminds us that a map like “Carte des bises” à Brasileira has already been published in Brazil, a map that could perhaps be updated and disseminated to the JOs. River? Two kisses!