brise bise



The bise is a northern wind, cold and generally dry, that blows from the north-east of France to the south of the Massif Central, where it is called bise noire ("black bise"). The bise can also come from the north-east in Touraine and Quercy and even from the east in Deux-Sèvres.

Blowing year-round, the bise is usually accompanied by clear blue skies. However, it can sometimes bring heavy black clouds, storms and hail in autumn and winter.

In colloquial French, the word "bise" also means a light kiss, usually given to a friend in greeting or before parting.


In Switzerland the bise blows from the north-east, above all during the winter months, and is due to a high-pressure cell north-west of Switzerland. The effects of the bise are strongest in Geneva, situated in a narrow passage between the Jura mountains in the West and the Alps in the South. Many foreign travellers to this Swiss city have commented upon it.


The term entered Middle English from French bise. Its origin is unknown. The Alemannic Wikipedia article Biise claims it to derive from Old Alemannic bîsa of unknown meaning.


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