Glass Christmas Tree Baubles

Glass Christmas Tree Baubles

The tradition of decorating Christmas trees in France goes back to 16th century Alsace, when people would hang apples and nuts from the trees’ branches. However, in 1858, a drought caused the apple harvest to fail, so an enterprising glass blower from Goetzenbruck in Lorraine created apple-shaped baubles from glass for people to hang on their trees instead. Soon the rest of Europe caught on, and by the end of the 19th century, the Goetzenbruck glass factory was making tens […]

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French Christmas Decorations

sapin de noel

As with many people across the world, the Christmas tree (le sapin de Noël) takes pride of place at Christmastide in French homes, schools, businesses, and factories. The first Christmas tree in France is said to have been put up in Alsace in the 1521 but it took another 300 years before it became popular with rest of the country. In 1837, Helene of Mecklenburg married King Louis Philippe I’s eldest son, Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans, and brought with her […]

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Letters to Santa

cher pere noel

Did you know that when children write letters to Santa in France, it is the law that they each receive a postcard by way of a response? The law was passed in 1962.

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Vegetarian Food in France

Flamiche

While France may come low on the list of vegetarian-friendly European countries, there is no need for vegetarians to despair; French cuisine does actually include a number of dishes which are actually suitable for vegetarians but because meat-free diets are not a big thing in l’Hexagone, it probably doesn’t occur to most people to label these dishes as veggie! Here then are a few regional specialities to look out for – we hope you enjoy them as much as we […]

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A Bone-a-fide Wedding In Paris?

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild dog chairs

In January 1897, several newspapers reported the story of Béatrice de Rothschild’s poodle, Diane, getting married La Petite Major – her father’s dog, also a poodle. An excerpt from the Washington DC Morning Times said: “There is a new fad among the rich – dog marriages.  And the creator of this fad is none other than Madame Ephrussi, daughter of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild and wife of Maurice Ephrussi. It is well known that Madame Ephrussi is a dog lover, […]

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Foie Gras

Foie gras

Foie gras, the goose liver pâté that is the staple of le Réveillon in some regions, actually originated in ancient Egypt 4,500 years ago. Around 500 BC, it spread to Greece but didn’t make it to France (or, as it was then, Gaul) until the Romans brought the recipe with them almost four centuries later.

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Le Réveillon

le réveillon

After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, le Réveillon, a fast-breaking feast, is served. Cafés and restaurants stay open all night to accommodate those who are not feasting at home. Le Réveillon comes from réveiller – to wake (hence reveille being the morning bugle call to wake up the troops), and is a symbolic spiritual awakening… as well as an end to the day-long fast traditionally associated with Christmas Eve. The feast usually consists of a succession of dishes, both hot […]

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Christmas Presents In France

christmas eve

As in many countries around the world, Christmas in France is a time for family gatherings. On Christmas Eve, instead of stockings however, children leave their shoes in front of the fireplace (or under the tree), so that Père Noël can fill them with gifts. In Northern France however, gifts are exchanged on December 6th, Saint Nicholas Day.

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Hospice Wine Bar Spreads Festive Cheer

Clermont-Ferrand wine bar

This Christmas, terminally-ill patients at the palliative care centre of the Clermont-Ferrand University hospital in Puy-de-Dôme in central France, will be able to enjoy some festive spirit with their friends and relatives in a purpose-built wine bar attached to the hospice. The medically-supervised visits to the wine bar, which was opened in September, are proving to have a very positive impact upon patients’ psyches, and offer some semblance of normality during patients’ final days. The hospital staff believe it is […]

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Christmas Drinks – French Style

christmas drinks

It’s no secret that the rest of the world considers the French to be the epitome of sophistication when it comes to alcoholic beverages; whether it’s wine, beer, cider, apéritifs, liqueurs, or spirits, French booze generally beats everything else into a cocked beret. I say beats… more like, gently coaxes. It should come as no great surprise therefore, that at Christmastime, festive drinks are just as sophisticated as their year-round counterparts. Here then, are three of the best Frenchmas quaffs […]

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