La bise. A specific kind of kiss that you see French people (as well as many other European nationalities) do in greeting (and in departure). It can be a tricky thing.
Although I lived in France in L’Ain, where la bise consisted of two kisses, I worked in Switzerland where it was customary to do three. The office was international with people coming from many countries, but at least in there, it was understood that the “home team” quantity of three presided.
However, when I went to sales and marketing meetings it was always hilarious to see the dance of the air kisses when one country had one or two more than “usual.” I tripped on this constantly.
I had an e-commerce vendor in Barcelona who I would visit several times during the year. Turns out unlike the most of the rest of Spain who where people kiss twice, the Barcelonians did three. When I met them for the first time and spent the afternoon with them, I parted their offices with kisses. I went in for two on the first person I exchanged kisses with, and they went for the third nearly kissing me on the mouth as I pulled away!
Paris is a two-kiss city unless the person you are interacting with sticks with their “origins” (a lot of people in Paris aren’t originally from Paris) and throw you off with their regional number. So although my mother-in-law lived in Paris for thirty years, she insists on four kisses as they do it in Poitou-Charentes!
Here is a map so you can see just how crazy it can get. It details the number of kisses (up to 5!) in the various regions of France. You can click the map to go to the origin site for more information.
Funnily enough for an American, these kisses feel very intimate while the French feel our American-style hugs are far more so! Interesting, huh?
Anyone have any funny “bise” stories to share?