French Kisses

Aaahhh… the French Kiss… so many have fallen for it, Meg Ryan included! Everyone knows about it, and a few lucky ones have even experienced it first hand. Oh, I get it, that’s why you’ve developed such a strong interest in the French language!

Where does the kissing come in?

Sorry we’re not gonna get into the details and technicalities of a passionate French kiss here – who’d want to kill its mystique? But let’s learn about the simple friendly kisses on the cheek that the French exchange to say hi to friends or even people they’re literally just been introduced to in an informal context. Those kisses are also much easier to get!

The French may not come across as the friendliest, most approachable people in the world, but they do kiss a lot, to say hello or goodbye. If you hang out with French people in France, you may very well end up kissing strangers you’ll just have been introduced to!

Kissing 101

The trick is to know how many kisses to give/receive, and what cheek to start the kissing process on. This is an art! Careful not to hesitate too much when choosing the first cheek to kiss as you may end up in that awkward situation… kissing someone on the lips by accident.

It’s all part of the learning process. Just a little advice, you may want to find a person you to practice with… experiences can vary A LOT!

Different numbers of kisses

Another piece of information you need to be aware of… Depending on where you are in France, people will exchange 2, 3, or even 4 friendly kisses. Just observe and go with the flow… In Paris, the French Riviera and a lot of other regions in France, people will stop at 2 kisses. In some areas of Southern France, the number goes up to 3 and in a northeastern France it reaches the incredible number of 4 kisses! Does it mean that people are filled with love in northeastern France? Not really… It’s just down to habit, not love in most cases!

Some key kissing terms

The words/expressions you should learn to become “French experts” in terms of kisses:

  • “On se fait la bise?” = Shall we kiss? (On the cheek! Don’t take advantage of the situation!)
  • Un bisou/un baiser/une bise = a kiss
  • Embrasser quelqu’un = to kiss someone
  • S’embrasser = to kiss (one another)

Note that it’s common practice for friends emailing/writing to each other, to end their emails/letters with “bisous” or “bises”(kisses) or even “gros bisous” / “grosses bises” (big kisses).

[Picture credited to Tania Saiz.]

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