Note: This post was voted Expatica France’s best blog for 2010/2011.
I wonder what fool it was that first invented kissing. ~ Jonathan Swift
It’s always seemed strange to me that the two acceptable greeting gestures in French society are the handshake and the kiss. As body language goes, they’re pretty polarized: one keeps people at a polite distance; the other draws them intimately close.
I spent both my sojourns in France longing for some middle ground, something that wouldn’t make me feel as though I were concluding a deal (or a date!)
It’s not that I don’t like kissing. I like it just fine. But I spent the first 19 years of my life believing that a kiss was a declaration of sorts — if not of the romantic form of love, then at least of one of its other varieties. Not so in France, where the kiss is reduced to a routine salutation, a matter-of-fact accompaniment to hello and goodbye.
Today’s post, all about la bise, is called Kissing à la Française. It begins like this:
“It’s been three years since the Republic of France and I parted ways. There are things I miss about my former home (hot chocolate and people-watching at Le Régent, for example) and things I don’t.
Frankly, I’m not missing kissing.”
You can find the full story of my struggle to reconcile this Gallic custom with my Anglo upbringing at Expatica.com.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Bisous à tous!