Discover what Christmas in France is like ....

Originally posted on & updated on 10th February, 2024

French Christmas Traditions

The way Christmas is celebrated in France is not too dissimilar to the UK festivities and traditions: decorating the house, presents and good food are all involved. The religious significance of the occasion does get more recognition here with crib scenes a part of the decoration in most homes, and church services and celebrations being central to a town’s Christmas events.

There are some Christmas traditions in France that may seem strange, such as the habit of keeping the decorations up until long after Twelfth night until, in fact, the end of January, yet there are others that are really worth embracing. Many of these, unsurprisingly, involve food and drink! This is France after all, and you wouldn’t expect any less.

Christmas Treats for Food Lovers

If you are trying to watch your weight, then France at Christmas time is possibly not the best place to be! There are so many wonderful foods available, it’s impossible to resist unless you have incredible willpower. Chocolate lovers will be delighted by the amazing displays of chocolate figures available in the Chocolateries and Patisseries at Christmas time. They are impressive as well as compulsively edible!

The supermarkets too bear witness to the French love of fine foods at Christmas. Every supermarket you go into will have displays packed to bursting with “galettes des rois”... the cake of kings. These vary in the different regions of France, being almost like a frangipane pie in the north and more of a sugared brioche in the south, but they are all delicious and they all have the lovely tradition of having a small Christmas figurine hidden inside; to be found by the lucky one, so don’t swallow without chewing well first!

Traditionally the French Christmas meal is eaten after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The menu usually includes roast turkey stuffed with chestnuts or roast goose and might also feature oysters, lobster, foie gras, venison and cheeses – all the most decadent and luxurious treats!

Christmas Markets

No one does a marché de Noel as well as the French, and the Christmas markets here are renowned. The markets usually consist of wooden chalets selling handcrafted gifts, food and drinks. Sometimes there will also be street entertainment, fairground rides or even an ice skating rink. The atmosphere is full of Christmas spirit and a wander around will soon get you in a festive mood!

Christmas Presents in France

Children look forward to a midnight visit from Le Père Noel, and everyone loves to exchange their gifts around the tree. Christmas is a time for family and French homes are filled to bursting point with grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and extended family.

Spending Christmas in France

While the various regions of France have several Christmas traditions in common, many regions have their own holiday customs that vary depending on the foods served, climate, and the local activities on offer. Here are three of our favourite destinations:

Like a classic Bordeaux or a hearty Burgundy, Champagne is named after the wine region in which it is produced. But the Champagne-Ardenne geographical region is home to many vineyards that grow all kinds of grapes and produce many different types of wine.

Situated on the southern coast of France, Provence-Côte d’Azur offers miles of rich blue Mediterranean coastline and delicious sunshine food to go with it. Are you dreaming of spending Christmas in France but can’t decide where to go? No matter where you’re planning to move to or invest, we’d be delighted to assist with your property search.

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