Skip to content

How do people in France greet each other?


They “faire la bise.” Pronounced “fair la bees.”


COVID curtailed this of course but now that things are a little better, people are back to using this greeting, although maybe a little more warily.


The first time I went to France many many years ago,  I can remember being slightly alarmed when, after being introduced to someone for the very first time, they leaned in to kiss me on one cheek and then the other.


Well, they were more like air kisses but touching cheeks seemed like such an intimate hello from someone that I had never met before.


One way the French Kiss!


Which Side?

As more people extended this greeting to me, I worried about who was supposed to lean in first and which side to start on. If both of us were at cross-purposes, the potential to miss each other’s faces or collide seemed high.


Fortunately, that never happened. I learned to allow the French person to decide and just go with the flow.


French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Markel “faire la bise.” Guessing they have done this before as the embrace is optional.  (French Kiss)



The other thing that can be a bit startling is that people sometimes announce they are going to kiss you in this manner.


“On fait la bise!” they say.  “We kiss on each other’s cheeks!”  You are never sure if they are asking or ordering but then they just lean in and go for it.


Now that I am used to it though, I think it is a wonderful way to greet French friends and new acquaintances.


You develop an instant camaraderie that allows you to bypass the awkwardness in starting a conversation.


Or that is what I have found.


Obama gets a handshake. Michelle, the French Kiss –“la bise!”

How Many Kisses make up A French Kiss?


Fun fact: The number of times you kiss depends on where you go in France. In some places, people offer four kisses.


That’s back and forth across each other’s faces four times. Seems like an extraordinary amount of work doesn’t it?


The dark areas on the map are where people extend the most French kisses when doing “la bise.”



Kissing is serious business in France, and not surprisingly, as the French are known for romance, there are multiple ways to say, as well as, give a “kiss” in French.


The open-mouth  “French kiss”  known as French Kissing was invented by the French.  Or was it?


Do you remember your first? I certainly do!


Check out that blog by CLICKING HERE

My SUMMER Giveaway is Here!


Do you want to smell great when someone leans in to “faire la bise” with you?


So for my Summer Giveaway,  I am offering a 50 ml bottle of Chanel Perfume.


The WINNER has a choice between the new fragrance Gabrielle which I personally adore.




OR for the more traditional of you dear readers,


Chanel No. 5 Refillable Eau de Toilette Spray.  This one is perfect for travelling.



How do you Qualify?


Just Subscribe if you haven’t already to my weekly blog at
Scroll down where it says “I Invite You To Subscribe” and fill in the information.




If you are already a Subscriber,  leave a short Comment at the bottom of Three of my upcoming blogs.


That’s Three! Not once, not twice but three different comments on three different blogs.


You can do so by scrolling down to the bottom of each blog post where it says, “Leave A Comment” and following the prompts.


The Draw for the Perfume will be announced on July 7th! 


NOTE: (This Draws is now over but there will be lots more coming!)


Check out my blog and quiz about French Perfume





Once the winner has been contacted and received the Chanel Perfume in the mail, they will be asked for a Short Interview, and to take a Selfie or Photo holding the perfume. 

The content will be used to promote interest in my blog and posted on FB, Instagram and Twitter. I personally purchase my Giveaway products and do not derive any commission from the products or services promoted on this page.


  1. Betty Hancey on June 2, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Sunday morning treats- a cup of cappuccino and a new post from Diana’s – Woman of a certain age in Paris!

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:42 am

      You are too kind Betty. I am so thrilled that you wake on Sunday’s looking forward to my blog. Means so much to me.
      (Comment 1 of 3 for the Perfume Giveaway Draw!)

    • Tamara Thompson on June 3, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      I know, Betty it is my weekly “I can’t wait to read Diana’s Blog.” I then give myself permission to tune everything out, (well except for Logan, there is NO tuning him out). Somehow though, I pick my reading times for Women of a Certain Age in Paris and NO ONE interrupts, just for a Paris moment. Kissing and all…who can resist?

    • Sue Ryder on August 9, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Love your blogs! Growing up in Quebec I am very familiar with la bise. Really something. The custom survived hundred of years in a new country and now it may not survive Covid-19!

      • Diana Bishop on August 9, 2020 at 12:03 pm

        Hi Sue — I know. I lived in Quebec for quite some time and loved the custom there too! And yes to think, hundreds of years and now what..?
        Thank you for reading my blog. I am thrilled to have you as a subscriber! Diana

  2. Luci Rizzo on June 2, 2019 at 8:26 am

    I am married to a man from French Canadian roots. When meeting w his family members the two cheek kissing is the standard. Took a little bit if getting used to but became second nature fairly quickly.

  3. Dee Poquette on June 2, 2019 at 8:33 am

    I too was a little uncomfortably at first with the introductory first kiss. But, once you see that EVERYBODY does it you get use to it. Now the hard part is figuring out how many. Great blog post today !

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:41 am

      Thank you Dee. I am sending you bisous! Thanks for your comment. Diana (Comment 1 of 3 for the Chanel Giveaway Draw)

  4. Nancy Croitoru on June 2, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I grew up as an anglophone in Quebec, we always kissed when we met new people. When I moved to Toronto in my 30’s for business, I would shock my business colleagues, especially the men, when I moved in for “la Bise”. I loved the look of shock on their faces when I did it!! And I keep on doing it now as a woman of a certain age!!!

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:40 am

      Me too! I spent 8 years working in La Belle Province and La Bise was just routine there so I got quite used it.
      I had been to France already so had gotten over my learning curve. Yes, lets keep doing it.

      Thank you also for reading my blog … and you are now registered with 1 of 3 comments to qualify for the Chanel Perfume Giveaway! Diana

  5. Doris Squires on June 2, 2019 at 8:52 am

    Love your blogs and your giveaways. What a lovely idea! ?

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:38 am

      Doris, As usual, it is always wonderful to get your comments. I appreciate them so much. (Comment 1 of 3!)

  6. Erica Prinn -McCarthy on June 2, 2019 at 9:30 am

    I am from Montreal and it is is common for french and English alike to faire la bise, though I never knew it by that name! I think it is a lovely custom!

  7. Christine Kowal on June 2, 2019 at 9:52 am

    I Love this. I’m an artist and I used to do alot of physical openings. Now I work more and more from the internet. But one thing I loved and kind of miss is kissing and optional hug of people that I know and love coming to support me at my openings. The French just have certain things figured out.
    Love and Light
    Christine and the Animals

    • Shardie Stevenson on June 2, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      I totally love this custom but I am always wondering what side to kiss first. I try and follow a Parisians’ lead but somehow I always feel awkward! They do it , like they do everything, with so much panache!

      • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:50 am

        I know eh? We Anlgo-Saxons have so much to learn!
        Thank you so much for the comment and you have now registered 1 Comment out of 3 to qualify for the Chanel Perfume!

  8. Sandra Lyons on June 2, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    I moved to Toronto 4 years ago after living most of my life in “la belle ville”, aka Montreal. People rarely fait la bise” in Toronto when greeting one another, but I’ve noticed it’s beginning to happen more often – yay. Lots of Quebec and French expats have recently moved to Toronto, giving the city a more European feel.

  9. Barb Guilfoyle on June 2, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    With Italian being my background, it is also customary to greet someone by kissing both cheeks. I feel it is a great tradition.

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:37 am

      Hi Barb, Yes the Italians! Well that is another story.. watch for it next week!
      Thank you so much for the comment and you are registered with 1 of 3 comments to qualify for the Perfume Giveaway!

  10. Trudy Van Buskirk on June 2, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    I give a hug to family and friends and am not averse to “faire la bise” if someone leans in to give me one 🙂 Vive la France and its traditions!

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Amen to that Trudy! Thanks for the comment. (Comment 1 of 3)

  11. Ruth Rama-Witt on June 2, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    I just love your blog and heard about it from a neighbor of mine one here in Manhattan! This article about the Kiss is very informative. I was in the fashion business for years and the double cheek kiss was a given!

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Ruth…Thank you so much for reading my blog. I would love more readers from Manhattan. Yes, the fashion is all about air kisses
      and so much fun. Thank you so much for your comments, and you are now registered with 1 of 3 comments to win the Chanel Perfume draw!

  12. Terri Freeland on June 2, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Being married into an Italian Family I too needed to learn to lean in and kiss each cheek. Once in a wedding reception line not knowing which cheek to kiss first we both leaned in the same direction and I kissed the woman right on her lips! Awkward…..but we laughed it off and all was good.

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:34 am

      Now that is funny. But I can see it happening. Thanks so much for commenting Terri — and I have registered 1 of 3 comments for you!

  13. Dorothy Berry on June 2, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Ooh la la…. my favourite thing when I am in the company of my friends from Quebec. (I have never been to Paris). It is such a Wonderful Greeting, warm and affectionate without being sexual.

    • Lea Greenwood on June 3, 2019 at 8:35 am

      Ah, la Bisse…..I was confused too when I first lived in Paris. The locals seem to do the single bisse on each cheek. The basketball team I joined did singles on each, plus one. Yet in Normandy, the standard was done twice. So I never knew, two, three or four bisses! Mom dieu!

      • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:28 am

        I know!! But so nice! Thanks for your Comment Lea — (Comment 1 of 3)

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Yes, it is a French custom wherever you are in the world. And other cultures do it as well… (Comment 1 of 3!)

  14. Twink on June 2, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Okay so I am in Paris for the first time at a party with my hostess and she starts to introduce me, her Canadian friend and the kisses start. I am not too sure what to think as I stretch out my hand and say “how do you do?”in my best French then proceed to dodge the kisses thinking they were..,well not sure…first base ? Needless to say my girlfriend was giggling and so was everyone else.!

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:32 am

      So funny. Exactly what I went through too — we anglos are such prudes. Thank you for your comments. You have qualified for the first comment of your three to win the perfume!

      • Tamara Thompson on June 3, 2019 at 9:18 pm

        I think it is fantastic that they even say, “Faire La Bise” when they give a hello this way. Such a grand way to meet someone, how very welcoming. to be introduced and then, kisses. 🙂 Love your blog Diana, they are a real joy and a treat. I love that I can read all about “Faire La Bise”

  15. Erica L Prinn-McCarthy on June 3, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Being from Montréal, I certainly am very familiar with faire la bise, though I did not know it by this name (or any name, we just did it!). Moving to Toronto and subsequently to Collingwood, I miss this. Though I do continue it here with a one sided kiss, even that seems to surprise some people! Off to Montreal this weekend and will faire la bise all weekend long!

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Thank you for this comment. I lived in Montreal and Quebec City for 8 years and loved this kissing tradition that I have learned in France previously. Enjoy your weekend of “bisous”! (Comment 1 of 3)

  16. Juliette Wood on June 3, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    I too was first awkward in reaction to those who adopted this custom early in our relationships, but over time now I embrace it in my certain age!

    • Diana Bishop on June 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm

      I know. Me too. Love doing it now. When I go back to Paris each time, it is so much fun saying hello this way to all my French friends. (Comment 1 of 3)

  17. Tamara Thompson on June 3, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    I remember being at a Christmas party years ago, we were sitting with and getting acquainted with a French-Canadian couple, they said they were just friends. When I saw him give her the double-sided kiss on the cheek, I assumed they were a couple, they said just friends. This did confuse me, (in silence -as I wasn’t about to ask them about their relationship) thinking to myself “they kissed, they must be together?”. Then at the end of the night, I was kissed on each cheek, turning to my husband, a bit confusing. Again in private, my husband explained that it is customary to do so. It all made sense to me after that, I would surely need to polish up on my skills in this as my eyes widened and head derailed back, then with my awkward smile brushing each of his cheeks. I have to admit it did make me happy that I was also offered “Faire la bise”

    • Isabel Lounds on June 4, 2019 at 8:35 am

      I was also raised with the double kiss being that I’m Portuguese. I’d fit right in, in Paris! I love it!

      • Diana Bishop on June 4, 2019 at 8:42 am

        Isabel — the Portuguese do this? I did not know that! You would fit right in — in Paris. So great to hear from you and thank
        you for your comment. (Comment 1 of 3 registered for Summer Giveaway Draw)

    • Diana Bishop on June 4, 2019 at 8:39 am

      This confirms how I felt the first time too! So interesting isn’t it? Thank you Tamara for your comment.
      (Comment 1 of 3)

  18. Ann on June 6, 2019 at 10:17 am

    I’m a newcomer to your blog, and thoroughly enjoyed this post (and its comments). Here’s another fun fact, from a French friend who lives just outside Paris and schooled me on the finer points of la bise: If you’ve already exchanged cheek kisses with someone on a given day, you don’t faire la bise if you see each other again later the same day!

    • Diana Bishop on June 8, 2019 at 10:25 pm

      I did not know that! It is not often that I see the same people again the same day but it is interesting and of course makes perfect sense. I know there is a debate in France about whether “faire la bise” should be done in the workplace. Yes, I can see where that might be awkward.
      Thanks for your comment Ann. So thrilled to have you as part of my community, Diana (Comment 1 of 3 towerd the Summer Giveaway Draw)

  19. Lynn Patterson on June 8, 2019 at 11:32 am

    I have never been to Paris and never experienced faire la bise! However I am a hugger and love to give & receive hugs with family & friends. I thoroughly enjoy reading your weekly blogs Diana. Fabulous!

    • Diana Bishop on June 8, 2019 at 10:23 pm

      I am so thrilled to get this comment from you Lynn. And if you were in Paris, you would be a natural to “faire la bise.” (1 of 3 Comments)

  20. Eileen on June 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    I got my first bise a few weeks ago in Florence, Italy. It made my day, because I felt I’d made a good friend.

    • Diana Bishop on June 9, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      Yes it is popular in Europe too!

  21. Grace Prince on June 11, 2019 at 10:06 am

    My first French kissing experience was at 19, i was teaching English to an all French, course of CN / CP railway employees ( all men, of course) it was an amazing summer in Gimili, MB and this young man handsome and beautiful in every way after six weeks with him it left my mouth watering for the most sensual kissing I have ever imagined could be possible.
    The crews returned home and to this day there has never been another who has come close to the barrier we set that Summer. Mmmmm ??. “ Kisses of fire, leaves your heart on a wire… ???? and I smile every time I think of it.

    • Diana Bishop on June 11, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Grace — Whoa! Another great story. It is amazing how memorable that first kiss was for so many of us.
      Thank you for sharing. (Comment 1 of 3 for the Perfume Giveaway)

  22. Timmithea Leeds on June 12, 2019 at 11:10 am

    The first country I visited outside North America was France several years ago. I always wanted to go and my mum gave me 2 tickets to Paris for my 50th birthday! I found a lovely airbnb next to St. Surplice. The apartment was owned by a couple – the women was a burlesque dancer and the gentleman an interior designer ( I did not know she was a burlesque dancer at the time. The post just said dancer). Both sounded like lovely, adventurous people and the pictures of their apartment on their airbnb post were amazing. There was a juxtaposition of old and new. Beautiful white leather dining room chairs and a granite green dining room table with an iron base caught my eye. The verbal instructions he left for us though as he walked us through his apartment would have you blushing…or at least I was at the time. The gentleman asked that our night time activities in bed should not be too loud or else his neighbors would be upset! Then, as he left he air kissed my checks and shook my husband’s hand- I was still stunned by what he had said in the bedroom and when he air kissed my cheeks it just made me blush even more! We Americans are just too uptight about somethings. I’m working on it though!

  23. Ron Kish on June 12, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    I learned about French kissing in my senior year of high school. We kids were going to the local lake for an after prom picnic. But it was raining to beat the band and there was no way anyone wanted to get out of the cars. I had been “fixed up” by my cousin and I hadn’t really met my date until a few days before the dance. I was a rather shy 17 year-old and not a very good dancer and only knew the box step. But my date made me feel relaxed with the sweetest smile and the smoothest southern accent. But even though Peggy Sue was from Alabama she knew all about French kissing and I never forgot those lessons. After a summer of tutorials, I left for college and when I returned I learned she had married the local contractor’s son. My cousin later married her brother and years later we did meet up, but we never renewed our French experience.

    • Diana Bishop on June 12, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Ron — how I love to hear from my male readers! How brave you are to join my community of women of a a certain age.
      it is so great to hear that men were just as nervous as we girls were and that a Southern Belle taught you the ropes.
      Imagine us talking about these kinds of things when were working in TV News! Thanks for sharing! Diana

  24. Margaret Ann on June 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    I was introduced to this custom when I met my Francophone husband to be. I didn’t find it awkward the first time I met his family and this tradition was thrust upon me but I was already 27, so a little more mature and able to accept new concepts easily, and perhaps so easily because it was this lovely man’s family wanting to share “la Bise.”

    Lovely Sunday morning catching up with your exciting blogs Dianna. Life has been busy, which is great, but lovely to catch my breath this way, sunshine, latte, and this blog!

    • Diana Bishop on June 16, 2019 at 5:28 pm

      Hi — yes and lucky you — a French Canadian husband! (Comment 2 of 3)

  25. Fran Windischmann on June 16, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    One of my girlfriends (quite a few years ago) thought that French kissing meant starting from the hand and working your way up. That still makes me laugh.

    • Diana Bishop on June 16, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      Hey..that sounds very French.. kisses all the up. I like it. I need a French boyfriend. (1 of 3 Comments to qualify for the Chanel perfume draw!)

  26. fashion backpack on September 8, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    When someone writes an piece of writing he/she retains the image of a user
    in his/her brain that how a user can know it. Therefore that’s why this post
    is outstdanding. Thanks!

    • Diana Bishop on September 9, 2019 at 11:44 am

      Thank you!

Leave a Comment

Stay in touch

Add your name here and we’ll keep you updated when we post something new.