Parisian Living

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

by Tory Hoen
Written By

Tory Hoen

Tory Henwood Hoen has been published by New York Magazine, Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Fortune, and others. She was Creative Director of Brand at M.M.LaFleur, where she founded the brand’s digital magazine, The M Dash. Her debut novel, The Arc, is available in bookshops near you and online. View Tory Hoen's Website

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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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