Kissing is a difficult thing to get right in France. Presently, I’m in a state of total confusion as to what to do whenever I meet someone I know in Strasbourg.
Naturally if they’re female – a peck on either cheek will suffice (i.e. both cheeks – that’s a 2-kiss greeting), this is a step up from greeting female friends in London – where one peck seemed to do the job. I have yet to witness a four-kiss greeting, but I’m ready for one – should the need arise.
With men though it’s a different matter entirely – while back in Blighty a firm handshake would cover-off most events – in France it’s necessary to know when to kiss a man instead. As far as I can gather you only do this if you know him very well (you don’t say!) and you are sure that he’s French. i.e. if you run into another Englishman you know very well – a kiss will not be what he’s expecting!
Furthermore, beards add another dimension to the puzzle. One assumes that if a Frenchman you know very well decides to grow a beard – this because he wishes to discourage you from kissing him? I mean – kissing a man with bristling facial hair is not the most pleasant of sensations, right? Certainly – that’s my experience.