French Kissing Greeting Facts
Research has been conducted by Gilles Debunne into how many times a French person kisses the other's cheeks, by departement. He produced a map giving the geographical explanation for how many cheek kisses (bises) should be administered. The map was developed from a poll Debunne conducted with over 18,000 French people.
The results of the poll showed:
Two kisses is the most frequently occurring custom throughout most of the rest of France except for where:
Three kisses are the norm in the south east as well as other Poitou Charentes departments (Vienne, Charente).
Four kisses are preferred in a large area of northeastern France as well as
in the north east arrondissement of Paris.
For an interactive map where you can find out how many kisses is appropriate by department:
The above certainly matches our experience, where around Pouzauges kissing is either two or four (it is on the border of the north west four and southwest two kissing areas) and in Isle sur la Sorgue in Vaucluse in the south east, three kisses is definitely what you are greeted with.
Note: If you haven't worked it out already or come across the tradition, you offer your right cheek first in the kissing greeting.