While Paul Taylor is stirring up debate about whether or not to bise at all, the tradition is still a long way from being done away with. So the question remains: how many kisses?
As usual, we find a uniformity of opinion across the Fifth Republic:
Or not. Using data from Combien De Bises, a site that crowd sources the answer with geolocated votes, Radical Cartography’s Bill Rankin created a color-coded map of French kisses. There are no solid colors in any of the départements, because there isn’t agreement, even in le sale Sud. For the most part, the map gives you a high chance of guessing correctly—you can guess which cheek to start on simply by gauging the body language of the other person.
Paris alone seems to contain the sum total of all possibilities, its breast colored with a herpetic stippling of yellow, green, and blue. In being the most cosmopolitan of French metropolises, it is also the most confounding, but two kisses are the rule of thumb. The best part is that, since its a city without a range of opinions of the number of kisses, forgiveness runs high, and allows people the option of adding, “Chez toi, c’est trois” in the even you are particularly fond of the other person’s cheeks.
If you’re a native, you can cast your vote for number and starting cheek here.