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Bretons defend right to give just one French kiss

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Bretons defend right to give just one French kiss
French kissing on the cheeks. It's not popular everywhere in France. Photo: Simon Blackley/AFP
17:09 CEST+02:00
The greeting of kissing twice on the cheek is synonymous with French culture but not everyone in France likes the ritual. A movement in Brittany has launched a campaign to defend their custom of giving just one peck on the cheek, which they say is under threat from the Gallic double kiss.

The French have always been big on kissing but in some parts of France it has gone too far, according to the locals.

The Gallic greeting ritual of kissing twice, or even three or four times, on the cheek, known in France as “faire la bise” may be the norm in most of the country but not in Brittany, where the locals are fed up by the invasion of multiple pecking.

Purists have formed a new Breton association in the city of Brest, in western France, and launched a Facebook campaign in defense of “the single kiss”.

The group GRUBUB, which stands for the "Group for the Rehabilitation of the Single Kiss", was founded due to the “alarm” over “the exponential growth of the double kiss”.

“In recent months and years this barbaric practice has taken a foothold in the city of Brest. It is difficult to know why and who is spreading this insidiously dangerous practice,” the group says in a statement on their website.

“But it is not too late to react. Together we can reverse this trend,” they say.

In a call to arms on its website GRUBUB is urging the residents of Brest to spread the word about their campaign and "to refuse the second kiss".

With tongue firmly in their cheek the group insiststhey are not reactionary or political "even if they know this is one of the most important issues of our time".

As this excellent map from Le Parisien newspaper shows, different regions in France have different customs when it comes to kissing. The department of Finistère, which is home to Brest, along with Deux-Sèvres in the Poitou-Charentes region.

However in the east of France and part of Provence, it’s all about the double kiss, that should start with the left cheek. Over in the Massif-central region of central France locals go back round for a third kiss.

And the tradition in parts of northern and western France like Normandy and the Vendée (see map), as well as departments to the east of Paris like Marne and Aube, the locals will carry on pecking until they get to four kisses.

And why do the French do it?

“It’s a sign of recognition,” Dr Philippe Brenot a psychiatrist and anthropologist told Le Parisien newspaper.

“Most young people share kisses a lot among themselves. It is their way of saying I recognize you in my sphere of friends,” he said.

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