Papa Noel est Passe !

Christmas in France

It’s the day after Christmas, and we’re still finding pieces of wrapping paper in all corners of the house, red and green ribbon and tiny pieces of clementine peel that Papa Noël (Santa Claus) left behind when he visited us here in the French countryside.  It was a Christmas overflowing with traditions – the house full of family coming in from all over Europe, the children running around like mad totally excited about the presents to come, my mother-in-law busy at the stove (and me by her side as Sous Chef), cooking up her annual Christmas Day feast (un délice!), and small dishes of Papillotes, individual wrapped chocolates, to be found in every room of the house.  The Christmas tree decorated, lights hanging outside the house, the fine china dusted off for the family meal, and everyone’s slippers or shoes in front of the fireplace (no stockings here) ready to be filled with presents.  And again, that never-ending supply of Papillotes.  It’s great because for several days, it’s totally normal to grab a chocolate before breakfast, a few on the way to dinner, before going to bed… c’est Noël, it’s Christmas!

Christmas in FranceChristmas in France

And so, out came the foie gras, the smoked salmon and the bottles of Champagne.  We changed things up a bit this year with a buffet on Christmas Eve – everyone took plates piled high and sat in front of a roaring fire - pâté, different types of dried sausage, cornichons, endives for dipping, foie gras, smoked salmon on bread rounds with butter, lemon and dill, foie gras, tomatoes, olives…  A big cheese platter followed (Comté, Roquefort, Munster, Reblochon) as well as a Bûche de Noël of raspberry and vanilla ice creams.  Chocolates followed, of course, as we opened our Papillotes and read the little messages hid inside the wrappers.

Christmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in FranceChristmas in France

Christmas Day saw even more traditions, with the kids scurrying down the staircase to find their slippers sitting atop piles of presents.  We adults did the same!  A copious breakfast of country bread, croissants and brioche dipped in bowls of café au lait and hot chocolate, warmed our tummies before we set out for a big walk around the village. We looked up at the tall trees filled with huge bushels of mistletoe, we admired the neighbors’ houses decorated for Christmas and worked up an appetite for the big family meal. While we shared with everyone the presents we received and our projects for 2009, we feasted on my mother-in-law’s annual menu: salad with avocado, baby shrimp and grapefruit, followed by quail cooked with bacon and sultanas (served whole, heads and all!), big plump chestnuts and squash gratin.  This was followed by another copious cheese platter, a tower of clementines, individual Bûches de Noël in various flavors, and assorted chocolates and orangettes (candied orange peel dipped in chocolate).  Back in front of the fire we went, to play games, look at each other’s presents and of course, open more Papillotes.

Christmas in France

Christmas in France

6 Responses to “Papa Noel est Passe !”

  1. Steve says:

    Awesome! I totally feel like I was there for your family dinner. And the best part… I didn’t feel stuffed like I usually do after ours. You’re really allowing all of us readers to get a great sense of the holidays in the French countryside. Thanks so much for that, and a very happy holidays to everyone.
    Question: what kind of messages are found inside the Papillotes wrappers?

  2. Kerrin says:

    Hi Steve, thanks for your message. No worries, I am enough stuffed for the both of us! And to let you know about those Papillote wrappers… inside are short quotes or idioms, French proverbs and fun phrases. In order to read more and more, that just means we have to open more chocolates! :)

  3. AmyRuth says:

    Kerrin,
    Lovely photos and such gentle wordpictures of your sweet holiday with family. How fun to learn of family traditions half way around the world. Thank you for the beautiful photos as well. I don’t know what a sultanas might be….must google. Perhaps a bird of sorts? Glad your holiday was Merry and Bright.
    AmyRuth

  4. Lani says:

    Celebrating Christmas at home in France looks so warm and toasty. The food must taste as good as it looks. My favorite would be the dessert. It is fun tasting everything and opening up wrappers filled with little wishes for the new year. Thank you for sharing the Christmas holiday with all of us…..

  5. Marie-Isabelle says:

    Quelle magie grâce aux photos de Kerrin !
    En ce qui me concerne, les douceurs de la soirée de Noël me semblent nettement meilleures sur ce blog que dans la réalité, tout est embelli et présenté sous son plus bel aspect (angle de la photo ! talent du photographe !).
    Cela permet de prendre du recul car à Noël je suis toujours trop occupée pour profiter pleinement du décor ou des friandises…et il faut dire que je suis tellement gourmande, que je dévore toutes ces bonnes choses à toute allure de peur d’être rattrapée par les autres pendant que je suis à la cuisine…et donc beaucoup trop vite pour les savourer vraiment !
    Sur ce blog, on ne peut pas dévorer mais seulement se régaler du regard…savourer et apprécier chaque plat à sa juste mesure.
    et c’est beaucoup mieux pour la ligne !
    Sans compter qu’ainsi on fête 2 fois le réveillon de Noël !

  6. Jenn says:

    What a lovely display! Looks like you had a great holiday.

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