If you have inadvertently kissed someone on the lips while attemping to give them a French bise, then you know the struggle involved in this incredibly strange tradition.
I know I have.
I was in 9th grade, my good friend Murielle was leaving math class early and, when attempting to give me two little smacks on the cheeks to say goodbye, we both turned our heads in the same direction and kissed on the mouth. We were 15 and laughed so hard about the mistake that we still talk about it 15 years later. When it happens with your best friend, you laugh it off, but when it happens with you father-in-law or your elderly neigbhour, it’s pretty darn embarrassing.
So, if us, the French, manage to make a mess out of la bise, how are outsiders supposed to do it right?
How many bise(s) to you give? On which side do you start? When do you give it? To whom do you give it? There’s so much to know about the smacks we use to greet and thank one another that it’s easy to get confused. Fortunately for the foreigners in France, Paul Taylor, a Brit who lives in France, hilariously explains the subtleties of the French form of greeting. Watch and learn.