If you plop yourself down on a park bench in the U.S. and also watch human being come and also go, you’ll undoubtedly see civilization of all ages satisfy and greet each various other through a hug. Some are simply friendly, quick hugs and also others are more loving and romantic. Sometimes a hug is accompanied by a pat on the earlier, or swaying ago and forth, and also occasionally there’s the majority of distance in between the 2 civilization. No matter the type, you will view lots and also lots of hugs bereason it’s a common greeting among Americans. But upon getting here in France, I conveniently learned there’s no hugging in France. You don’t hug to say hi. Not even family members.

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How’d I learn?

When I jovially put my arms around my French father-in-legislation that proceeded to simply stand tright here prefer an pet playing dead, simply waiting for his predator of a daughter-in-law to sconnect away. Ooops. I found out the hard method there’s no hugging in France.


Let’s take a closer look at hugging in France (or the absence thereof) and also the French hug. GO!

Hugging in France:


Let me say this appropriate out of the gate. You perform not greet French civilization via a hug (unless it’s a child). There’s no French hug. Instead, you perform cheek kisses, les bises. Sometimes it’s one on each cheek and relying on your social circle and region of France, you might go for 3 or 4 bises. But whatever you do, don’t go in for the hug like I did through my negative father-in-law. Hugging in France as a greeting doesn’t exist!

In fact, the French don’t even have a verb that means “to hug.” Well not in the exact same sense exactly.

How perform you say hug in French? Well, the closest would be to sindicate “take someone in your arms” or prendre dans les bras or faire un câlin but it’s type of a romantic gesture. Like a tender hug you perform with a romantic interemainder. Or somepoint you do through children. Or maybe someone going through a really difficult time to consingle them. But hugging in France is never supplied as a greeting.

The greeting is referred to as “la bise” (pronounced kind of choose bees in English” and is composed of cheek kisses.


Here’s why you don’t hug a French perchild (and what to do instead):

They won’t know how to execute it. Hugging in France is wayyyy much less common.

Apart from what they watch in the media, the French really aren’t expert at the various kinds of hugging and also have no clue when to use each for a greeting — but it’s not their fault! It’s not normal in French culture to hug, so if you attempt to hug a French perboy, they might obtain a small also close, too touchy-feely, might not recognize what to carry out with their hands or could just stand there like my negative father-in-legislation waiting for you to relocate on to the following unsuspecting Frenchie.

It’ll make them feel really awkward or embarrassed.

French adults don’t hug to say hi. Period. Not with their friends, not with colleagues and also definitely not via casual acquaintances. Since they aren’t used to hugging in France, if you go in for a teddy bear hug or also a one-equipped, half-assed “hey” kind of hug, they will be perplexed and most likely just stand also tright here. They’ll feel embarrassed — trust me. Or possibly they’ll reciprocate to be polite all the while thinking, “Damn this is weird.” Unmuch less you are hugging a pervert. Which leads me to…

They might think it’s a come-on.

If you’ve recently met someamong the oppowebsite sex and also you greet them through a friendly hug, this person may think you’re trying to get cshed rapid. As in romantically cshed. Maybe you are interested in this perkid or probably not, yet it paints the photo of you wanting to gain cshed to them. Literally and figuratively. Hugging have the right to be an intimate act. You press your body up versus someone else’s, relying on the form of hug. This makes human being that aren’t offered to hugging rather uncomfortable. It’s the very same for me once someone leans in for a bise! It’s oddly intimate at times because I’m just not provided to doing this with world. I hug! (But I don’t hug in France.)


What to carry out instead of trying to do hug a French person:

You execute quick cheek kisses, or faire la bise, rather of hugging in France to greet someone. Who do you perform this with? Family, friends, sometimes colleagues and also casual acquaintances you watch regularly. Usually guys don’t provide each various other bises unless they’re family members or extremely cshed.

What side carry out you begin on? Who the heck knows. I don’t think there’s a rule but just around all the moment I start through a appropriate cheek to right cheek.

Always follow the French person’s lead. It’s their country and also they’re the masters of the French greeting. If they begin to turn their head and scrunch their confront, they’re coming at you for a bise, or cheek kiss or 2. So if they lean in for a cheek kiss, carry out the exact same. And if you wear glasses prefer I do, it’s customary for among you to rerelocate your glasses so they don’t cconnect. I never execute this because I’m lazy.

If they start to extend their hand rather, do the same and also shake their hand to say hello.

Keep in mind that once you start to faire la bise through someone, you perform it eextremely time you watch them. Not simply when or now and then once you feel prefer it. It’s obligatory! More on la bise right here.

Time to adapt. Just kiss me currently.

I still find bisous a tiny awkward and also would certainly a lot fairly hug, but hey there’s no hugging in France so I’ve adapted. And as soon as we visit my household and also friends in the UNITED STATE, Tom knows they’re going to hug him and he’s cool via it. He’s a expert hugger currently.

Here though, aside from Tom’s family members and my one French frifinish (who I cheek kiss sometimes as soon as I’m feeling especially French), I just faire la bise with two men at the gym. One is the manager who I’ve become friendly via and the various other is a nice male who is constantly in the weight room at the very same time as me. Aside from those choose civilization, I simply say bonjour. It’s not a romantic point and is as basic as a quick hug. Peck and also peck and done.

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So bam, there’s your lesson on French society for the day and all around hugging in French and also French hugs. Don’t hug. Faire la bise. And everyone will live happily ever after.

What’s your endure been with hugging in France and bisous?

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