jeudi, juillet 17, 2008

From The Times: Combien de bises ???

« Combien de bises en Bourbonnais??? »

From The Times
December 1, 2007
French unsure when to turn the other cheek
A French couple kissing


A survey aimed at determining the correct etiquette of kissing has found a fracture at the heart of the country
Adam Sage in Paris and Joe Joseph

How many kisses to plant on the cheeks? It is a conundrum shared by the socially timid and extrovert alike: whether to plump for a brusque one-cheek brush or to dive in for multiples and risk appearing embarrassingly overenthusiastic.

Nowhere is the puzzle more complex than in France, the country most famed for the practice. Now, far from settling the matter, a survey aimed at determining the correct etiquette of kissing has only illustrated a fracture at the heart of the country.

This may be welcome news to the British, many of whom still regard the looming approach of a proffered cheek as a social minefield. Having adopted the French habit of kissing far beyond the family circle, the British often find themselves at sea when it comes to knowing where and when to kiss, how many times, and which cheek to peck first.

In France, not only does the number of kisses vary from one to four depending on the region, but it also varies within regions. City centres and their peripheries, urban and rural communities and different social classes are all divided over how many kisses to give.
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“It is very complex,” said Constance Rietzler, director of La Belle École in Paris, which provides lessons on French art de vivre. “There is a lot of confusion over this.”

Gilles Debunne, a computer expert, hoped to resolve the conundrum when he launched a website, Combien de Bises (How Many Kisses), this year. “I was curious to find out what the reality was,” he said.He had hoped to end the embarrassment that arises when trying to give three or four kisses to someone who turns their head away after just two. (While the British opt for fewer kisses, many is the one-cheek kisser who has been left gawping as a double-cheeker lunges at them a second time.)

Mr Debunne invited internet users to vote on what they considered to be the appropriate number of kisses for a greeting in their département. More than 18,000 votes have been registered and the picture of a divided nation is emerging.

In Paris and central France, most people give two kisses – one on each cheek. But a swath of northern France, from Normandy to the Belgian border, opted in general for four. And southeastern France, from Marseilles to the Alps, preferred three.

Two départements – Finistère in Brittany and DeuxSèvres in the centre – give a meagre one. But within each region, there were deep divisions. About half the voters in and around Calais, for example, said that they gave “deux bises” while the other half said that they gave “quatre”.

In the Vienne département in central France, the confusion was even greater, with voters plumping in almost equal numbers for two, three and four kisses.

“It’s a lot more subtle than I ever imagined,” said Mr Debunne. “Sometimes the number of kisses changes depending on whether you’re seeing friends or family or what generation you belong to.”

Class distinctions also came into play. Mrs Rietzler said that the French upper classes preferred two kisses. Anyone planting three or more smackers on the cheeks of their host at a refined dinner would be committing a faux pas, she said.

But to whom should you faire la bise and in what circumstances? Mrs Rietzler said: “In general, the French kiss friends who are the same generation as them and family members.” She said that women could kiss each other and could kiss men as well. But men kissed each other only if they were very close friends or relations.

“If you are invited to a dinner party with people you don’t know, you’ll shake their hands when you arrive. At the end of the evening, you might kiss them but it’s probably better to hold out your hand and see what happens.”

Safe enough advice for those on both sides of the Channel.

Kissing cousins: how they do it across Europe

The Netherlands begin and end on the same cheek. Three kisses are expected, but if greeting an elderly or close family member add a few more. Right cheek first

Italy kissing is restricted to very close friends or family. The number is optional and as there are no rules on which cheek to kiss first, there are frequent clashes

Belgium If the same age as the other person, one kiss is the rule. For someone ten years older, three is a mark of respect. This is hazardous if you are bad at judging ages

Spain, Austria and Scandinavia All are content with the two kisses ritual. In Spain the rule is strictly right cheek first

Germany tends to restrict kissing to family and very close friends. Handshakes predominate and all meetings begin and end with this formality

Is France more passionate than Britain? Post your comments below