IN PICTURES: How to greet French people in the Covid-19 era

IN PICTURES: How to greet French people in the Covid-19 era
All photos: AFP
France's iconic cheek kiss greeting has been ruled unhygienic by the country's leaders, so with that and the handshake both out how are French people greeting each other these days?


This is officially unhygienic and you shouldn't do it. In normal times the handshake is more prevalent in France than in some anglophone countries, where it's often seen as for formal situations only.

But for now, its a no-no. Here's what French health minister Olivier Véran had to say, way back in February: “From now on we recommend that people avoid shaking hands.”

Unlike many of France's other health rules there is no fine in place if you get caught shaking hands, but it's better to avoid.


La bise, the distinctive French double, treble or quadruple (depending on where you are) cheek kiss has also been ruled out under social distancing rules.

In fact the French health ministry has even made a series of short adverts that remind people that they should not be using the kiss greeting.


Some French people, especially older ones, are finding this quite a difficult habit to break and in some parts of the country you will still see people doing it. But it's officially frowned upon.

READ ALSO Kiss off: Why coronavirus could spell the end of 'la bise' in France


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Elbow bump

Elbows have taken on a new importance in public life – you're supposed to cough or sneeze into them, open doors with them and they're also an officially approved greeting method.

The historic EU economic bailout plan was sealed with an elbow bump between Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel and above is pictured French Prime Minister Jean Castex greeting a member of the public with an elbow bump.

Foot bump

This doesn't seem to have caught on as much as the elbow bump and it's pretty hard to find a picture of a politician doing it, but nonetheless foot bumping is a hygiene-approved greeting gesture.

Fist bumps

Already in use pre-Covid by some people of course, the fist bump doesn't really fit with hygiene rules as it still forms hand-to-hand contact. But unlike the handshake it's never been officially ruled out by the French government.


This seems to have become the official greeting for formal occasions when an elbow bump might seem a little too casual.

It's become the go-to for world leaders meeting each other, as French president Emmanuel Macron demonstrates here while meeting Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez. It's maybe a little formal for saying hi down the café though.


This has probably spilled over from numerous Zoom meetings, but if bumping various body parts is too complicated you can just give your companion a cheery wave before launching in to the latest gossip.


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