Many of those who travel to France have encountered “bisous”, whereby people kiss each other on the cheeks as a form of greeting. The number of kisses depends on where you are, though it usually consists of somewhere between two and four. No matter how many kisses there are, those of us coming from the English speaking countries are usually pretty awkward upon our first try.
At first, we are tempted to shake hands, as kissing is a very personal greeting to us, usually reserved for close family members and lovers. As a general rule, girls kiss both boys and girls upon meeting. Boys will normally only kiss girls, unless it is a close friend or family member, in which case it is perfectly normal for guys to do a cheek-to-cheek kiss with a male counterpart.
Based on kisses being such an integral part of interaction in France, one might think that this implies that the French are more comfortable with intimate displays of affection, right? Not necessarily. Try hugging a French person.
My girlfriend and I are currently traveling in the U.S. for a few weeks. We have been using a French guidebook to get us around, as I don't have a guidebook for my own country. In this book, there is a section dedicated to social etiquette and respect in the United States called Faire/Ne Pas Faire. Almost every time that we have met up with a friend or family member, we have brought out the list and discussed its contents. Make sure you pronounce your H's. Don't drink in the streets. Not leaving a tip will lead to a horrible impression of one's character. Though these are all interesting (and important to know), the following suggestion is by far my favorite: