Home » Uncategorized » The art of « la Bise » (Kissing on the Cheek) – Part 2 (#296)

The art of « la Bise » (Kissing on the Cheek) – Part 2 (#296)

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The last post introduced “la bise” (a kiss on the cheek used as a greeting).  CLICK HERE for the last post (part 1).

It laid out some of the abstract rules of the art.  In this post, we will look at some of the physical rules of exchanging “bises”  (Oh la la !!)

Two kisses, no more, no less

If you’ve travelled outside Canada, you may have noticed that other countries also “font la bise”.

In Europe, the number of kisses can vary.   In some parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland there are three kisses.  In parts of France, there are one, two or three kisses (depending on the region).   Other countries may only have one.

In Hollywood (California), actors love to, well, act…  Thus, Hollywood seems to be creating their own new “bise” tradition in their off-screen lives.   Being the ‘lil attention lovers that they all are way down there in Hollywood, they presumably are doing this to show the whole world how cultured they are (Giving “bises” makes you cultured?  Really??).

But I’ve noticed they’re not quite sure how many kisses to give, and it has become one big mess.  I’ve seen some Hollywood actors give up to eight “bises!”   That’s almost enough to get someone pregnant!   (Too much wine at their parties if you ask me!!).

Here’s the rule in Canada and Québec: 

  1. Do NOT follow Hollywood’s lead (please!!… For the love of God, do NOT follow Hollywood’s lead), and
  2. Just stick to two kisses.

Simple, simple!  So if you screw it up, then it’s your own fault.  (Count… 1… 2… Done!).

Start on the left, and move to the right

(Isn’t that a song??  To the left, to the left… There goes my clear head for the day!!  To the left, to the left… )

Just as different countries give different numbers of “bises”, various countries start on different sides of the cheek.  Some countries my be on the left, others on the right.

BUT here in Canada, when you give your “bises”, give a peck starting on the LEFT cheek first, then finish on the right.   The person you’re “bising” will reciprocate at the same time, and all should go as planned.

If you start on the right, but the other person starts on the left, you’ll head bunt, get a bleeding nose, or be Frenching in the most awkward sense of the word.   Don’t start on the right, don’t aim for the chin, and keep the forehead as a no-go zone.   Just stick to the left.  (To the left, to the left… damn song is in my head!!)

Keep a little bit of distance, unless…

Feel comfortable to stand close enough to put your hands on each other’s’ shoulders when giving your “bises”.

You should be close enough that your elbows are slightly bent, but not close enough that you’re rubbing your unmentionables together.   You should not be so far that you have to stretch your arms to eternity to reach the other person.

There is however an “unless” in this equation.   Remember a little earlier I mentioned that you might find yourself in a rather intimate situation — one in which it could be appropriate to give a hug and a “bises” all-in-one? (a “bisug”)?

A “bisug” might be appropriate at a funeral, wedding, Christmas, with close family and close friends.  You want to keep the intimacy, while keeping the somberness or joyousness of the occasion – all wrapped into one !! (Yippy!!)

When you kiss, what are you kissing??

Last point… What are you kissing?

Generally speaking, you’re not actually kissing the person (ie: don’t plan on making lip-to-skin contact).   Maybe they do in some countries… but in Canada we generally don’t (and hence, our kids only have 2 eyes).

Kiss the air.  If anything, just pretend there is a troll sitting on the shoulder of the person who you’re kissing.  You want to give that little troll a peck on the lips, thus avoiding any mouth-to-cheek contact with the real person.


But when I say peck, I do NOT mean a full-out kiss.  Just make a little “fish breathing” motion.  NO sound (other than a fish breathing sound from your lips parting), NO saliva, NO tongue, NO ocean whirlpool funneling or gulping & sucking noise… NO NOTHING.

A peck to the wind… that’s it, that’s all.

With that, you’re now an expert in the art of “la bise!!”

Now, go get’em!!!!


  1. John says:

    The wording has always been confusing to me.

    So when you say “left cheek”, you mean “left” from the perspective of the person, right? Because then you would lean in to the “right side” first to get to the other person’s “left cheek”.


    • Hi John, When you’re looking at them, go for the “left” (what you see as their left), which is what the opposing person sees as their “right” cheek. Yah, you’re right that the wording is confusing. Hopefully this helps. 🙂


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