... that is the question!
French kissing ( of the cheek pecking variety) can be a complicated procedure. First of all, there's the question of who does one kiss and who does one shake hands with .. to do the wrong thing can be either very rude or very forward, although French people do make allowances for les irlandais if we slip up on the kissing etiquette.
- You kiss good friends twice on each cheek. The number of times varies from place to place in France. In the North of France , for example, you may be kissed up to four times!
- You kiss good friends of friends when you are introduced.
- Generally you do not make contact with your lips and other persons cheek, but you do not air kiss either
- At a soirée with a mixed group, of people you have and have not met before, you kiss everyone
- Men NEVER kiss men, unless they are blood relations - they shake hands
- It is very rude to kiss someone you don't know and very rude not to kiss someone you do know
- You only kiss on the first time you meet a person on that day and if a soirée ,perhaps when leaving as well ..
- One might start a meeting with a handshake and end the social event with a kiss if you have got on particularly well
But the main thing I suppose is not to take it too seriously , to go with the flow and to be consistent. If you kiss one person once , you must continue to kiss them or they will assume you are shunning them. The french just instinctively know when and when not to kiss and which cheek to plump for first ( I often end up headbutting my recipient kissers!), so take your cue from the masters of the kiss. They learn this at a very early age - it's cute to see all the kids greeting each other at school with the obligatory two pecks.
So, when in France, lay off the garlic, floss those teeth and pucker up! C'est l'heure to kiss some frogs!