Christmas in France starts early with many traditional markets (Marche de Noel) in towns and cities, these are very popular and a great place for local artisans to showcase their products to sell as gifts. There are local food and wine stalls including the cauldron of bubbling vin chaud. In the Haute Savoie region of France, you may typically find a huge pela dish filled with tartiflette to help keep you warm whilst you enjoy the festivities.
The main Christmas meal is called The Reveillon and consists of luxurious and the more extravagant foods found in France.
The Reveillon meal is normally eaten late on Christmas Eve – it is a nighttime celebration served after midnight – the word comes from reveiller which means awaken as this meal involves staying awake after midnight! Champagne is served with the aperitif and good French wines to complement each course are served throughout the meal.
The Reveillon is a long meal, the aperitif is often blinis with smoked salmon and caviar. This would be followed with oysters (huîtres) smoked salmon (saumon fume) and other seafood like lobster (homard).
The Christmas meal normally includes foie gras from south-west France and snails (escargots) from Bourgogne. The French do eat turkey typically with a chestnut stuffing (farcé aux marrons) but they will often choose other game birds to serve at Christmas time too, like guinea fowl (pintade) quail (caille), pheasant (faisan) or goose (oie).
Next is the cheese course – which in France is always served before the dessert and normally consists of a hard mountain cheese like Comte, a blue-veined cheese like Roquefort, a washed rind cheese perhaps Munster or if in the Haute Savoie a Reblochon and a soft goats cheese. This is followed by a selection of desserts including the Buche de Noel (Yule Log) which is the most widely eaten dessert in France.
How many desserts?
However, if you are lucky enough to be in Provence they traditionally serve 13 desserts – these represent Jesus and the 12 Apostles and include dried fruits, nougat, Calisson D’Aix and a traditional sweet olive oil brioche called Pompe a l’huile. In Alsace they serve their typical biscuits called Des Bredele.
Joyeux Noel et Bon Appetit!
What is your favourite Christmas food in France? do leave me your comments.
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