• France's news in English

Should two expats in France 'faire la bise'?

The Local · 21 Jul 2015, 17:46

Published: 21 Jul 2015 17:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Jul 2015 17:46 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
We've all heard about the famous French greeting kiss - la bise - where two people kiss each other on both cheeks to say hello and goodbye. 
And that's fine. In fact, it's a lovely French tradition.
But what happens when two expats meet while in France -- should they kiss too?
Oliver Gee says Non!
I already know what the doubters (and McPartland) are going to say: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". 
But I don't care. There is always a limit. 
First, however, I should admit that I quite like the tradition and all its complicated rules, like knowing how many kisses to actually perform depending on location (there's a whole website dedicated to this conundrum), or knowing when exactly another man is "close enough" of a friend to warrant a kiss.
But what I don't like is when expats, especially those who are relatively new to France, try to dance the same dance when greeting other expats. 
Why do they do it? It's a French tradition, not an expat tradition. For me, it's as strange as if a French person moved to Australia and started calling everyone "mate" as soon as they arrived. Or moved to New Zealand and started rubbing noses with all the other French people there like the Maoris do.  
Every time I get an awkward kiss from another expat I always wonder why we're doing it.
For me, I think these expats who give each other these fake kisses are the same kind of people who pepper their English conversations with French words, almost as if to say "look how integrated I am". 
You know who I mean, the kind of people who say Paree instead of Paris when they're speaking English. Sacré bleu. 
Anyway, for me, I think the kissing should be left to the French, or for when us expats meet the French. 
Story continues below…
Otherwise we're all just pretending. And who wants a pretend kiss?
Ben McPartland says Oui! 

Surely Mr Gee, this all comes down to the simple argument of "When in Rome, do as the Romans do…" Or at least most of the time.

The only reason I can see for an expat avoiding or even refusing or do “la bise” with another expat (and I know many who do) is because they have a fundamental issue with the double kiss greeting.

Don’t get me wrong, it has its flaws. For example, just do it without making a sound with your mouth and you'll see how ridiculous it can seem.

Plus having to go round all the guests at a dinner table or party in France to fake kiss everyone twice, knowing that you’ll probably never speak to them again, just makes the ritual seem a waste of time and energy sometimes.

But apart from that it’s a fairly simple and consistent form of greeting that foreigners should have no resistance to.

When in France or any country for that matter, we adopt certain aspects of the culture, or at least the ones that suit us.

I am yet to push on the Metro with a group of fellow foreigners, or drive a car "up their backside" until they pull over to the other lane, but have shared plenty of aperitifs with them, sat down for hours in a restaurant with them, even left without tipping after a meal with expats.

I’ve played boules with other expats, been to a July 14th fireman’s ball with other expats and had a stand up row with other expats about politics without it coming to blows. I've even nibbled the end of a fresh baguette with fellow expats (but not all at once).

It’s got to the point where greeting expats in France is now more confusing than greeting the French used to be.

You have to ask yourself all these questions before going in for the double plunge: “Are they are a kisser?” or “are they just a waver?” or “maybe they’re a hand shaker” or “maybe a little smile or a nod would be appropriate."

Surely if we all accepted a double kiss for expat women and blokes it would make life a lot less complicated.

Basically we all go native to some extent and French kissing is far from the worst Gallic trait for us to adopt, hey Gee?

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available