While the above greeting was fun, when you meet someone you know in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, you kiss them…three times! It’s called “la bise.”*
Here’s how you do it:
1. Touch your right cheek to the other person’s right cheek.
2. Pucker your lips and make a kissing noise at the same time.
3. Switch to the left cheek and repeat.
4. Switch to the right cheek and repeat.
5. Say “Bonjour,” it’s nice to see you, ask how they are doing, etc..
Perhaps it will catch on in the States. I highly recommend everyone go into work today and practice this one. Start with your boss. Or not.
How do you know who to kiss? It depends on how close the people are and their gender. I kissed our realtor. He did too. She was nice. If he had made her uncomfortable, she could have chosen not to and would probably have held out her hand to shake instead. Two guys are less likely to do “La Bise.” When we met a nice Swiss couple, he shook hands with the husband shook hands with the husband. He likes the KISS below better.
*Different countries kiss different numbers of times. In Belgium, they kiss only once. In Nantes (France), they kiss four times!