Faire la bise

How do you adjust to being expected to ’ faire la bise ’ when introduced to aquaintances, friends and family of your own friends and family ? When you don’t know these people, how do you feel about getting physically so close if you feel uncomfortable ?
Was it a shock when you saw two men faire la bise for the first time ?

No, not at all.
Having lived in Brighton, a quick peck on both cheeks between men is nothing, it’s not exactly a full-on snog and that wouldn’t bother me either! :kissing_smiling_eyes:


For me it wasn’t a shock, it was rather moving, and unusual. The men in question were in workers’ overalls and looked in their mid-thirties.

I found it very unusual to see two pistol-toting policemen in uniform holding hands in typical languidly casual style as they patrolled the streets in Mufulira, Zambia, when I first arrived to work in the copper mines.

I was shown round the plant by a young male Zambian personnel officer, who held my hand lightly most of the way. It’s a display of friendship amongst African men.

Rather irrelevant these days?

But you are not expected to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Most French completely understand that other cultures are different.
But take care to read the body language and situation, as you don’t automatically follow suit just because the person you are with does kiss the assembled company. My rule of thumb is that if it is a person I would vous-voyer then I would wait to make sure they made the first move.

I come from a family/culture where men hug and kiss each other so not an issue. These days surely it’s pretty commonplace in most European countries?


Apart from men,if one is introduced to female relatives, I personally don’t necessarily feel comfortable from initial impressions ?

Same in India/Pakistan. I was most uncomfortable.

And so I am when Spanish women touch me or even grasp my arm. Not that I object to it per se but it occurs to me that for me to do that to a woman could lead to anything from a sharp word to a complaint to a police officer.

I have no idea whether I am ‘allowed’ in Spain. No point asking because I simply won’t do it.

Kissing of any kind in the presence of third parties, from my observation, is exceedingly rare or absent in sub-Saharan African culture. I presume it is seen as a sexual act to touch lips, as (if I understand correctly) kissing another person"s lips is interpreted in France as an invitation to more lascivious involvement.

Even close family members don’t hug front-to-front, at least I’ve not witnessed it male to male or female to female, and certainly not between the sexes.

My elderly African father-in-law, however, always embraced and patted me, and kissed my neck, when we met. He was blind from childhood so I think touch was of deep significance in his case, but all other men (and some wome) showed warmth by using the complicated five-stage hand-clasping ritual characteristic of the region, and the extended hand-holding already mentioned.

A fascinating topic for me.

My ‘everywhere’ was a short hand…should really be replaced with many/most european counties outside extremely religious communities.