Comment faire la bise ? ~ How to Kiss Cheeks, French-Style

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Faire la bise is often translated as "cheek kissing" or even "air kissing," when a more accurate (though decidedly less elegant) description is "lightly pressing alternating cheeks together while making kissy sounds."

Step 1: Turn your head slightly to one side (see page 3), let's say to the left.

Step 2: Lean in and lightly press your right cheek, which is now facing toward the other person, to his or her right cheek, while making a kiss sound with your mouth.

Step 3: Pull your head back a bit (so that you don't bump noses or brush lips) as you turn your head slightly to the right.

Step 4: Press your left cheeks together and make another kiss sound.

You may need to repeat with a third, fourth, or even fifth "kiss" (see page 4).

There is usually no actual lips-to-cheek contact, with occasional exceptions. A friend of a friend once planted a kiss on my first cheek but not the second, leaving me to wonder if he'd expected me to reciprocate with a kiss on the second cheek.

Bises etiquette
  • If you're wearing glasses, consider taking them off before offering your cheek, especially sunglasses (so that the other person can see your eyes) or if the other person is also wearing glasses (so that the two pairs don't clash).
  • Likewise with oversized hats - nothing ruins a bise quite like hitting someone in the forehead with the stiff brim of a baseball cap.
  • If you're sick, it is not only acceptable but preferred to avoid the bises, with a brief explanation.

  • Remember that if you can't or don't want to faire la bise for any reason, you should shake hands instead.

Faire la bise
  1. Qui fait la bise ?
  2. Comment faire la bise ?
  3. Quel côté ?
  4. Combien de bises ?
  5. Les bro-bises (Manly kisses)
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