Christmas in France
|I'll have one of those, and one of those and one of those....|
After spending a few Christmasses in Australia and missing Ireland like crazy, we decided that we would always head back to the ole sod for the silly season. On moving to France ten years ago, we fulfilled our promise to ourselves and went “home” every year, that is, until the weather made us change our minds and stay put in the balmy South of France. Trying to criss cross Ireland to see all the friends and relatives in the severe winter weather conditions had turned into a logistical nightmare. Christmas 2010 saw us visiting my lovely aunty in Broadford, County Clare on the 23rd of December and getting stranded there for four days as we were snowed in and the house hemmed in by a veritable ice skating rink. St Stephen’s day pickings was Weetabix and Onion soup, the only food left in the house and not even a drop of vino to go with it.
So, last year, for the first time, we stayed in our own house in French suburbia and loved it. We flew the Granny in, got a massive Christmas tree, soaked up the ambiance in our little village and, most importantly, Santa knew exactly where to find us!
In France, Christmas, as you might have guessed, is all about the food. We decided this year to leave our Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve. The shops were empty. The retail shops, that is. The butchers, épiceries, patisseries, fromageries, cavistes and delicatessens were all bursting at the seams, with queues snaking out the doors onto the streets. On a stroll through Perpignan on Christmas Eve, very few people had shopping bags, most were just strolling around or doing what French people do best ; enjoying a café and looking very sophisticated.
Drink is important but definitely not drinking to get drunk. There are no 12 drunken nights before and after Christmas here. In fact, if you are thinking of getting away from it all with your partying teenagers, France would be a good option for a family Christmas holiday. It’s all about the family, the food, some good wine and champagne and with the temps hitting the late teens, some very pleasant weather for crisp mountain walks, beach days and sunny days skiing.. Of course, you miss out on the craic and the banter and the giddy tom - foolery that is Christmas in Ireland .. but, C’est la vie!
Bonne Année ‘n all that!