Tuesday, August 7, 2012

French Kissing 101

Woman Wrestling with Fish, Marchillac-sur-Cele 2009

My friend, Edith, and  I have been exchanging emails fast and furiously in preparation for her arrival tomorrow evening. I closed one by saying we'd be 'bonjouring and kiss-kiss-kissing' soon. She replied, 'oh, so they kiss three times where you are?' Which led me to send her this simple treatise on the art of French kissing here in the Lot. (All names and initials have been changed to protect the kissers.)
"Well...with most people, it's three. A few people only do two and then there's R. who always grabs a 4th...naughty man! When you first meet people, most will shake hands. After that, you play it by ear (or cheeks). It took a few times of shaking hands before Madame P, the mayor, decided to greet me with kisses. But then there are people who've kissed me that I've never even met! I was really nervous about the kissing thing when I first came here...who to kiss, which cheek first, how many, etc. Now I relax and go with the flow. I hang back a moment and just follow their lead. J-M and I always shake hands...not because he's so formal, but because he hardly ever kisses anyone and it's kind of a joke.
And to make it even more confusing...French children almost always kiss adults, even ones they don't know. With them, it's one kiss. 
Someone could write a book on French kissing etiquette! Because, as you know, it's different in every region of France."
Laury reminded me this morning as we were walking that another thing to remember is if you've already greeted/kissed someone, you do not repeat it if you see them later in the day. Just isn't done. 

All you Francophiles and French folks who read.this...have I left anything out? How do you kiss where you're from?

I'm not sure why my photo of a naked woman wrestling with a big fish made me think about French kissing, but there you are!


  1. I heard somewhere that once you move from shaking hands to kissing, if you forget and just shake hands, it's an insult or sign that you're mad at them. What do you and Laurie think?

    1. Don't know about that other places, but I think here in our little village, the French folks are so sweet that they'd just chalk that faux pas up to 'crazy American women who can't get it right!

  2. Three in the Lot?
    I had no clue.
    Or maybe the Lot is cut in two halves: because with my friends from Aveyron it's three, but my friends from Western Lot it's two!

    Where I'm from (and roughly all of Aquitaine and most of Midi-Pyrénées) it's two.
    I usually kiss family (women and most men), friends (female and close male friends), co-workers I can't remember (I haven't had French coworkers in a decade or so). People I meet for the first time I forgot. I remember I'd kiss women and kids when first meeting them when I was in my twenties, nowadays it really depends, but it's rare.

    1. We're definitely eastern Lot here. In fact, the village I can see across the river, Saujac, is in the Aveyron. So maybe we're more Aveyronnais here than Lotois. Good to know how to behave in Aquitaine and the rest of the Midi-Pyrenees.

  3. Kissing with three fishes? It could catch on, in a very British "taking le Michel" kind of way...

  4. It's a social minefield. And I've committed the solecism of kissing someone again when I've already done it earlier in the day. It's probably three where you live since you are close to Aveyron. It's also three around here in NE Tarn-et-Garonne, also probably because we are very close to Aveyron. People who were born and bred in our area always kiss three times.