A White Christmas in France

Noël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, France

Christmas in France. Family traditions. At my mother-in-law’s home in the French countryside. A fire going at all times.  Papillotes (wrapped chocolates from Lyon) in bowls around the house, eaten from morning to night, before, after and in between meals.  My brother-in-law on the piano and mother-in-law in the kitchen (with me as Sous Chef, but of course). Slippers in front of the fireplace. Clementines left for Le Père Noël (Santa Claus). Our nephews and niece running around – excited for Santa to come, and then excited about all that he left behind.

Noël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, France

Christmas eve meal: prawns; mâche salad with crab and avocado, and a spicy mayonnaise dressing; scallops gratin in cream, served in their shells; generous cheese platter; clementines; orangettes (candied orange rind dipped in dark chocolate) and truffles. Midnight mass at the impressive Chartres cathedral. Home at 2am – time for dessert, the first of several bûches de Noël! Christmas day saw foie gras, quail, chestnuts, squash gratin, more cheese, a new round of chocolates and an ice cream bûche de Noël.  The days following Christmas saw smoked salmon and blinis, oysters, escargots, more foie gras, always more cheese and my mother-in-law’s famous gratinée (onion soup).

And always, before all these tempting gourmandises, we take long brisk walks around the village, breathe in the crisp, fresh air and work up a new appetite.

Noël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, France

Back inside, and all around the fire we go. Hot chocolate and brioche with salted butter caramel. Tea and chocolates. Boardgames, Trivial Pursuit and endless rounds of laughter and Taboo.

And let’s not forget the obligatory fondue.  Not the traditional Swiss moitié-moitié as we are used to back home in Switzerland, but my belle-mère’s recipe, which starts by rubbing the fondue pot with lots of garlic. Then four fromages: Beaufort, Comté, Appenzell, Emmental; plus white wine, pepper, (too much) kirsch and… her no longer secret touch: butter.

Noël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, FranceNoël 2010, France

I hope everyone had a fun, fabulous and extra sweet holiday with family and friends!

The festivities continue for us in New York City to ring in the new year with my family.   Where will you be at midnight on December 31st, 2010? Wishing everyone a very happy new year!  Bonne année!

20 Responses to “A White Christmas in France”

  1. Uncle Beefy says:

    Oh, Kerrin! I am so, so sorry for you! But, I hope that you will take solace in the fact that I will make a New Year’s wish for you that you can start living a life with more travel and adventure and certainly better food. Yeah… my heart is achin’ for ya’! 😉 (Hee hee!)

    Wishing you the Happiest New Year, Kerrin! 🙂

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  3. Sam sidney says:

    What a great post… The pictures are beautiful, the fondue looks amazing, the fireplace, the stone home… Everything!

    Happy holidays xo.

  4. Hande says:

    J’ai déjà commencé à apprendre le français.. ha ha….. 😉

  5. Strawberry Cake says:

    Lovely! The fondue looks fabulous…we always do fondue on Christmas Eve and it sounds very similar to yours. Yummy! Happy New Year…..

  6. Lani says:

    Christmas in Gourville sounds absolutely amazing and so warm and cozy! Listening to the piano playing, sitting near the fire and enjoying all the french “traditional” goodies are perfect for a picture postcard Christmas. I can hear the music playing as the kids run up and down waiting for Santa and then playing with all their gifts. The giggles, the red rosy cheeks from the walks in the countryside and wonderful wine finish the picture! Thank you for sharing your Christmas celebration!! Next year I am coming!!!!

  7. Karen@Mignardise says:

    This sounds absolutely heavenly. I am insanely jealous and not ashamed to admit it. Best wishes for a wonderful new year!

  8. Turkey's For Life says:

    What a beautiful post. Almost felt like we had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with you!You certainly didn’t go short on food! Our New Year’s Eve will be spent at Fethiye fish market eating king prawns and then on to our local bar to see New Year in with our friends. Happy New Year!

  9. Kerrin says:

    Uncle Beefy, you never do let me down. Always there to cheer me up in the roughest of times. :O) Well thank you Mr. B, loving that new year’s wish. And here’s one right back atcha – for 2011 to be everything you hope for and more, with a little extra sweetness thrown in there by none other than… moi ! =)

    Sam, thanks !! Happy holidays to your Charleston crew too !

    Hande, tu me fais rigoler !! Tu es forte ! Et tu seras bien prête pour Noël 2011 en France alors ! 🙂

    Strawberry Cake, hope you enjoyed the holidays – and your annual fondue too !

    Lani, you are most welcome ! You certainly got each and every detail above perfectly ! Next year then…. ?! =)

    Karen, merci beaucoup ! Best wishes to you and yours as well !

    Turkey’s For Life, thank you so much. I love that you were able to enjoy all of the above with me ! And at my mother-in-law’s home, any time of year, you *never* go hungry, that’s for sure, haha ! Your new year’s eve plan sounds fantastic – be sure to have a prawn for me !! 🙂

  10. Laure says:

    what a nice Frenchie white Xmas….. I wish you and family all the best for the year to come , xxxx

  11. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says:

    Sounds like the perfect Christmas to me 🙂

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  12. Andrea M. says:

    This really sounds very idyllic and lovely. It’s difficult to imagine that with all that rich -food eating that the French/Swiss wouldn’t be overweight and unhealthy. (And I know from living there that they are not!) What is the secret to not getting indigestion besides the walking?? 🙂

    Happy New Year Kerrin! Looking forward to some more amazing tales of CH!

  13. valentina says:

    Sweet Kerrin, Feliz ano novo! Entre o ano de pé direito. I’m in Brasilia at the moment with my family and after Xmas still doing a lot of eating with all the friends visits I’m making. Hope you have a most fantastic time in NY with all the loved ones. May 2011 be a very generous year to you.

  14. Steve says:

    Welcome to NYC! How long will you be staying? Where? What will you be looking to eat?
    There is SO much to eat and see in this city. The diversity of cuisines is hard to describe or to fathom. Want Turkish? Peruvian? Cuban? South African? Argentinean? We got it, and we have it all over the city.
    Ask away. Us New Yorkers would be happy to oblige with tips (well, this one certainly will…)


  15. Liana @ femme fraiche says:

    Happy Holidays (even though they’re coming to an end) Your photos are beautiful!

  16. Kerrin says:

    Laure, merci ! I hope you enjoyed the holidays as well. All my best for 2011 to you too !

    Samantha, happy new year !

    Andrea, you are so right… that whole French paradox still boggles my mind. Sure it’s the red wine that helps, right ?! 😉 And for the Swiss and their fondue and wurst (and and…), the chocolate must do the trick too ! Actually the truth for the Swiss, they are extraordinarily athletic – always hiking, skiing, swimming… very fit people. Happy new year to you and your family, Andrea. Here’s to 2011… and plenty more tales of CH to come ! =)

    valentina, feliz ano novo minha amiga ! From me in NYC with my family, to you and yours in Brazil ! Unless you are back home now. Either way, all the very best in the year to come ! Muito obrigada para tudo !

    Liana, thank you so much. Do the holidays really have to end though…? 😉

  17. Baron's Life says:

    Beautiful Food…we were in Whistler, BC for the holidays…wishing you all the best for 2011…keep well and safe landings

  18. Kristina says:

    Love the pictures of the French countryside, lovely! And the food sounds amazing!
    Wishing you a great 2011 and happy to read more about my chosen home of Switzerland!
    Viele Gruesse, Kristina

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  20. Jamie says:

    Ah, JP made his rich cheese fondu this year and it does ring of Christmas and all we miss is the snow! Beautiful holiday images!

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