Tuesday, March 07, 2006

French Kiss

No, not what you're thinking. I'm talking about the French custom of greeting (and saying goodbye) with a kiss. Or rather a minimum of 2 kisses, one on each cheek. After 2 years and 2 months here I am totally used to it now, but it in the beginning it was like a comedy of errors.

It was a while before I realised that whereas men who don't know each other well shake hands, women are always greeted with a kiss, even by men they don't know. So that the time we were introduced to our neighbours male friend, and I shook his hand after seeing Lucas shake hands with him, I was being totally rude. Luckily he understood after we explained that it was just because I wasn't used to the kissing culture.

I used to dread going to parties because I knew that meant making the rounds to kiss everyone present (on arriving and on departing). It's now second nature to me thank goodness. What I am still trying to get the hang of, however, is how many kisses need to be given, depending on where we are. In the mountains in Haute Loire it's 3 and sometimes 4 kisses. I instinctively stop after 2, so it can be quite funny when the other person continues. Luckily everyone knows that the number of kisses differ, so we just have a laugh and continue on.

Now when I am back home I feel like something is missing when I go out and meet people, I want to kiss them but it's just not part of our culture really. We really only kiss when we haven't seen someone for a long time, not on a daily basis like the French do (yes in France you kiss to say good morning even if you're staying in the same house and saw the person just last night before bed).

What I still have to work out though, is how the kissing translates in the work context. When I start working again I'll have to ask Lucas how it works, to be sure I don't commit any faux pas by kissing (or not kissing) my male boss by mistake.


Lucas said...

Hey Hon :)

At work people usually all shake hands, male and femal. Once you know them a little bit more if they become your friends welll, they re your friends :)

That's not extremely clear for me either. Sometimes thee's a moment when it's difficult to know what to do, if you know the person but quite enough to kiss, a little too much to be distant by shaking hands... welcome to France !!!!!


Adrienne " A little dramatic at times" said...

ROFLOL!!!!!!! I would LOVE to visit France!

Vernell said...

OMG - that is so funny!!! LOL Man I can't wait to visit.

Queue_t said...

such a cute thing to worry about. especially in the work context!

I wish we would be more familiar here- ( usa) the only one I still kiss is my mother- born and raised in france.

rumdistillery said...

That was the best aspect of my visit in France.
You get and give all those kissess and that makes you feel warm and wanted and welcome.
I could live in France just to practise that

wendymorris said...

How funny Francine! It's amazing how cultures are so different yet so interesting. I believe that I would have the same reaction as you :)