The generic question
Traveling abroad as an American, especially in Europe, how can I know when I'm expected to cheek-kiss someone as a parting gesture? Is the rule different for men and women? How do these customs relate to hugging or shaking hands?
My question in context
I'm from the United States, where (at least in my sub-culture) cheek-kissing is generally not performed between anyone who isn't either family-related or romantically involved.
For the sake of this answer, I would appreciate any perspective, not just Canadian, although that is the perspective through which this particular interaction took place.
I was on a trip through Europe with a friend and met three French Canadians from Montreal. When we first met, I believe all greetings were limited to shaking hands.
I am a male American, my traveling companion was a platonic female friend, and the Canadian friends we met were two men and one woman. Their native language was French and their English was fluent but with clear French accents (I'm not sure if this is important or not, I just want to establish the level to which I believe they are versed in French culture).
The five of us spent several days getting meals together and going out for fun until we parted ways.
Upon saying goodbye, I hugged the two men (where I come from, this is common among males you have become close with, and I don't believe there was any discomfort among them), and was approaching the woman for a hug as well but was caught off guard when she performed cheek-kissing. I adjusted my demeanor in time to reciprocate, but I was left wondering how I should have anticipated that moment and behaved appropriately.
Wikipedia writes this about cheek-kissing:
Cheek kissing is a ritual or social kissing gesture to indicate friendship, family relationship, perform a greeting, to confer congratulations, to comfort someone, to show respect, or to indicate sexual or romantic interest.
Cheek kissing is very common in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Latin America.
What social strategies can I use to know when this is expected so that I can avoid coming off awkwardly while traveling? It seems like the social gesture is confined to "friends" based on the description from Wikipedia, and we had only known the group for several days, but I still consider them "friends," however I was unsure if that was the level of friendship that warrants cheek-kissing, or if it is usually performed among close, long-term friends. Or is it expected even among acquaintances?