Christmas in France is pretty much all about food.
The finest wines, cheeses, breads, oysters – the best of everything beautifully prepared, cooked, and presented are what make the Christmas meals in France truly stand out.
Market stalls heave with stunning displays, shops dress windows and shelves to look their festive finest. If you don’t want to spend hours cooking in the kitchen, you’ll find it’s easy to buy food ready prepared – and utterly delicious.
Le Reveillon - Christmas Eve
In France it is Christmas Eve when the big get together generally takes place. “Le réveillon” as it is called, can go on for several hours and into the next morning - hence its name which literally means the “wake up”.
For many French families, the Christmas Eve meal is more important than Christmas Day lunch.
Actually, there are two meals called the le réveillon in France. If you haven’t over indulged enough on Christmas Eve, you can do it all again on New Year’s Eve just to make sure!
For le réveillon it’s tradition to start with an aperitif, a pre-dinner drink served with nibbles or an amuse-bouche, literally something that amuses your mouth, a mouthful of deliciousness and easy to buy in the shops.
Aperitifs: Champagne of course, or perhaps Kir - white wine with a splash of liqueur, usually cassis (blackcurrant) or perhaps raspberry (framboise) or peach (pêche). Or maybe a Kir Royale – sparkling white wine or Champagne served with liqueur. Champagne cocktails are also popular – here are five classic Champagne cocktail recipes. Even beer gets festive at this time of the year, you can add a liqueur called Picon or simply buy Christmas beer, bière de Noël, which you’ll find easily in supermarkets.
Starters: Work your way through the entrée (starter) which is often oysters, snails, lobster or foie gras. Rich foods and the best that money can buy is the order du jour.
Plat Principal: The main dish is usually roast turkey or chapon (castrated cockerel), goose or other birds and wild fowl served with vegetables and maybe mash, but not roast potatoes, they’re not traditional in France.
Cheese: It is unthinkable for a French person to consider a meal without cheese at Christmas.
In France, cheese is served before dessert. For a great cheeseboard, mix flavours, textures and colour. Aim for five cheeses and include hard, soft, blue, mild and strong so that everyone’s taste is covered. Also try to include cows and goats cheese, maybe even cheese made from sheep’s milk.
Go overboard with a bit of fromage carving and decorating, serve with baguette or savoury biscuits and say cheese for those Christmas photographs…
Dessert: Bûche de Noël (yule log) is a tradition in France, every boulangerie, patisserie and supermarket will have them. Crystallised fruits, nougat and praline nuts are also really popular. In some parts of southern France thirteen desserts are traditional!
Wine: Expect to serve a different wine, paired perfectly with each course.
Dreaming of spending Christmas in France? Hop over to our Home Page and use the easy to search facilities to find your perfect French holiday home…