When Is It Appropriate to ‘Faire La Bise’?

“When someone introduces us to someone we don’t know, we do ‘la bise’ with them right away, before even knowing their name, before even knowing who it is.”

There are few things that perplex foreigners visiting France more immediately than the concept of “la bise.” You might be expecting a handshake or even a hug, and then wham! Someone’s coming at you with their lips puckered. But don’t panic — it’s really not that bad. Barely a kiss, more of a brush of one cheek against another. In fact, if someone is actually kissing your face, they’re doing it wrong.

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In this video by Easy Languages, host Coleman Donaldson interviews everyday Parisians about what they feel about the bise, when it is appropriate to do, and how to handle a situation where you’re not sure whether or not you should do it. Watch to learn a little more about French etiquette, but when all else fails, just wait for someone else to take the lead, and go for it.