When I arrived in Brussels, my roommate met me at the airport. Out of habit, I gave her the traditional “bisou bisou”, one kiss on either cheek, left and then right. I already knew this was different from France, where they also give two kisses, but start on the right cheek. In Belgium, it is different still, as I realized a few days later when I met a friend of a friend for the first time. I went to give him two kisses, starting on the left, as he went to the right to give me just one. We nearly collided and it made for an awkward moment as I explained that in Québec we have a different “bise”.
Something else I have noticed in Belgium is that men also give the “bise” when they meet each other, especially good friends. This is not common in Québec or in France where the bise is only given between very good male friends, if at all.
>> Belgium: 1 kiss on the right cheek (but can vary I am told)
>> France: 2 kisses, start on the right
>> Québec: 2 kisses, start on the left
>> Switzerland: 3 kisses…