Christmas in France: How to Have the Best Christmas Ever

November 3rd, 2022

Oh! Oh! Oh! The festive season is officially open. Tinsel, Christmas tree decorations, and carols—this is how to celebrate Christmas in France. If you want to find out how other countries celebrate this special time, read about Christmas traditions in Germany and the UK.

Where to spend Christmas in France

Everywhere! Most French people stay with their families, visit grandparents and celebrate Christmas together in a warm house decorated especially for the occasion. However, some people like to take the opportunity to explore the country and go to Alsace, a region known for its most beautiful Christmas markets in France.

Don’t want to spend Christmas in France this year? Why don’t you go to Portugal or Italy? It’s always sunny there and Christmas will be just as magical.

Christmas tradition in France

Christmas decorations

christmas tree

Traditionally, houses are decorated with garlands that sparkle throughout the house and outside. The Christmas tree is also decorated at the beginning of December with red, gold, and silver. Everyone can find what they like in the many shops selling Christmas decorations.

Some families install the Christmas cot at the foot of the tree, an old tradition that is still perpetuated. The south of France and mainly Provence decorates with santons. These are small clay figurines decorated by hand.

Advent calendar

We also take the opportunity to buy an advent calendar and open a box each day of December to find a small gift or a bar of chocolate. Young and old alike love it!

Christmas TV films

christmas movie

Every day, a Christmas film is broadcast on French television on well-known TV channels, so you can be immersed even more in the magic of Christmas. If you are looking for classic French films with Christmas stories, here is a small list:

  • Le Père Noël est une ordure
  • Les Bronzés font du ski
  • Santa and Co.
  • Joyeux Noel
  • La Buche

Christmas Songs

Vive le vent
Vive le vent
Vive le vent d’hiver Qui s’en va sifflant soufflant
Dans les grands sapins verts
Oh Vive le temps
Vive le temps
Vive le temps d’hiver
Boule de neige et jour de l’an
Et bonne année grand-mère

This is simply Jingle Bells, but in French, and here we love it.

The Christmas meal in France

Eating well is an institution in France! And it starts on December 24th during Christmas Eve. We get together with our families, listen to our uncle’s heavy jokes, and toast at midnight by wishing everyone Merry Christmas.

In France, for the meal, whether it is Christmas Eve or the day after, we start with an aperitif with small salted biscuits to taste, sausage, and a champagne soup to begin well.

Recipe for champagne soup:

For 10 people, pour 13 cl of Cointreau, 26 cl of cane sugar syrup, and 3 squeezed limes into a container. Leave to macerate overnight. Then add 125 cl of champagne just before serving. And there you have it, relatively simple but delicious!

We continue with the starter, where foie gras, smoked salmon, and snails can be on the table. It is also possible to eat oysters or fake foie gras for vegetarians. Then comes the main course, mainly composed of turkey and chestnuts. Some families also eat fish before the meat—for example, scallops or a blanquette of monkfish with saffron. Before dessert, there is a cheese plate with a wide choice of different cheeses.
And finally, the absolute grail: the Christmas bun! Chocolate, praline, raspberry mousse, there is something for everyone!

christmas cake with chocolate

In Provence (again), there is another Christmas tradition! 13 Christmas desserts adorn the table:

  • nuts
  • dried figs
  • sultanas
  • dates
  • quince paste
  • various candied fruits
  • fougasse
  • white nougat
  • black nougat (with roasted almonds and caramelised honey)
  • red nougat (with pistachios and rose)
  • calissons d’Aix-en-Provence (a confection from Provence made with candied melon, almond paste, and royal icing)
  • oranges, clementines, or mandarins
  • a watermelon

After the Christmas meal, we recommend that you relax on the sofa! Play board games with your family, watch a film, you deserve it!

Whether you prefer to spend your Christmas holidays with your family or have an unusual Christmas in France or abroad, there are always many activities to do!

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