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French kissing!?

Etiquette, kissing – and all that!

The French, as we all know, are contradictory, not least in social situations. On the one hand they can be very formal – letters even between friends will often finish with some flowery formal phrase;  get your “vous” and “tu” wrong and you can cause all sorts of upset – and meeting people can be fraught with dangers – handshake? (can feel very “british”, cold and formal) – or kisses on the cheek? – if so how many? which first?… it can be a nightmare. Just to complicate matters the custom varies in different regions – 4 kisses is the norm in Paris!

Kissing French Style – It would seem that the general rule is that is you have met someone before then kissing is appropriate (except man to man, presumably). Generally 2 pecks, one on each cheek starting with the left, is the custom. But you could always just check out how other people are doing it first just to be safe.

  • NB Disclaimer No.1 – Please don’t blame us if you end up with a black eye or worse if you get it wrong!

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  • NB Disclaimer No.2 – although it is French it is NOT French Kissing – no tongues and no lip-to-lip action!
  • NB Disclaimer No.3 – despite the title the 1995 film “French Kiss” starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline will not teach you the rules of kissing French people. It is however a good light little film with some wonderful scenes of Provence vineyards.

GARCON! – well that was what my schoolboy French taught me to say to get a waiter’s attention – nowadays it will almost guarantee you’ll be the last to be served! “Garcon” means “boy” in French, which is hardly suitable for a profession which is highly regarded in France. Better to use “Monsieur?” (or “Mademoiselle” if female (regardless of age); or “s’il vois plait” (please).

CUTLERY – although it seldom causes a problem, it is usually expected that you use the same knife and fork for your main course as for your starter – unless of course, it’s fish. So your knife and fork should be placed back on the tablecloth to indicate you’ve finished.

GLASSES – if you’re in a posh restaurant the larger glass is usually for water rather than wine – although I always try to ensure that the wine goes in the larger glass if possible.

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