Parisian Living

Faire la Bise: The Art of the Parisian Double Air Kiss

by Tory Hoen
Written By

Tory Hoen

After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of's Guide To Life After College. View Tory Hoen's Website

12 comments on “Faire la Bise: The Art of the Parisian Double Air Kiss

the greeks do one kiss, the french do two, and the swiss do three. vivé le suisse! : )

I’ve found nibbling on their ears helps break the ice too.

In the Midi [the south of France], where I live “on fait la bise” twice, starting on the left (mostly). Coming from England, and not sure of exactly how it should be done, I have observed the etiquette closely. “Air kisses” are not necessarily the norm here (though may well be in Paris). Observation suggests to me that the “ideal” bise is as follows:

1. The person who arrives initiates the kiss
2. He or she kisses the persons who is standing there on the left cheek, making a kissing sound (not in the air!)
3. The person who has just arrived then offers their right cheek to be kissed.

However, it has to be said that for this to work everybody has to recognise the same etiquette.

If I remember rightly there was a scene in the French film, “La Lectrice”, where the professor tells the student, that she doesn’t know how to kiss properly because she does air kisses!

Hey all. Thanks for your comments! Obviously, there’s a lot of nuance here. What’s up Mehdi… how does la bise work in Berlin?

Moi, je te fais la grosse bise.

In Paris, though, at least it’s clear that you’re expected to do 2 kisses! In other parts of the country, it’s sometimes 3, even 4 cheek kisses… talk about horribly confusing and, if you guess the wrong number, quite awkward!

erin :: the olive notes

I really started to like the double kiss when we lived in Italy…but which direction do you go in France? I noticed it changed from country to country and a couple times I almost hit the lips:)

Simply Luxurious

Lovely idea. More love and touch might make us a more peaceful country and not so abrasive. I love this idea. Thanks for sharing.

paris (im)perfect

Hey! Thanks for putting a link to my post about ‘la bise.’ You seem to handle it with much more style than I do. I’m a misplaced New Yorker in Paris. I love Paris, but think about NYC all the time. Maybe we should swap for awhile…Have fun!

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