Many French people celebrate their Christmas on Christmas Eve – known as “Le Reveillon de Noel” – rather than on Christmas Day itself. Franck’s family, however, traditionally has the big celebration at lunchtime (but, this being Burgundy, “lunch” goes until around 7:00pm) on Christmas Day at my sister-in-law Stephanie’s house.
We had big plans for Christmas Eve, going to the evening Mass, maybe having friends or family over for dinner…But we were so blinking tired by the time the 24th rolled around, not to mention the fact that Clem had come down with a fever and a cold, that we just opted for a family evening chez Germain.
Franck bought 4 dozen escargots and we settled down to a Christmas Eve escargot feast – something that was so delicious, easy, and fun that I think it may become a new Germain family tradition.
Here they come out of the oven, piping hot and smelling of garlic and parsley.
Charlotte and Camille were deft in their use of escargot pinchers, and tucked into their dozen with enthusiasm. Clem was in her high chair, eating “ah-toes” of course.
As far as Camille is concerned, snails are far more finger-lickin‘ good than chicken.
And here are my three girls, two with tummies full of 12 escargots each, and one with “ah-toes”…next year we’ll start her with a half-dozen.
I hope Santa and the good digestion fairy visit you all, and a very Joyeux Noël from here in Burgundy.
The Gateau monster is in the bottom right hand corner there…the one with the helmet.
However, I was still not satisfaite. There was a bit too much caramel and I didn’t taste the apple flavour distinctly enough. Also my pastry was a bit bland – I figured using salted butter would help with that, and as you will see below, j’avais bien raison.
**Frenchitude Fridays (French + Attitude = Frenchitude) give ideas for injecting a bit of frenchness into your life, whether you live in Dawson City or Dole.
They really earned the delicious tarte tatin I made them for dessert on Sunday, and the recipe for which (waving to Karen here) I’ll be posting tomorrow.
– We lent out our tree stand last year to somebody, can’t remember exactly who, so don’t know who to call to get it back.
– There are absolutely no tree stands left for sale in Beaune.
-Franck was working on the Beaune cellar ALL WEEKEND so I was on my own with my bevy to get the tree up and decorated.
-French Christmas tree lights don’t come in single strings but rather circles so you basically have to lasso your tree. If you think this sounds easy, you have clearly never tried it.
– Our sapin sheds about a thousand needles every time somebody breathes in the vicinity, not to mention lassoing.
– Clem is currently in a lovely phase where she slithers around on her stomach and hoovers up everything in her path, including pine needles.
– I decorated our sapin with an almost 10 kilo needle-hoovering baby in one arm and with the “help” of two tired big girls who had “creative differences” regarding their “visions” of the sapin and which ornaments should be used.
– I am totally knackered, and have a bad cold.
So our tree is truly a sapin miraculeux because it is truly a Christmas miracle that it got up and decorated without an emergency room visit or holiday homicide.
P.S. Those chairs underneath are a nice touch, n’est–ce pas? They are a barricade for Clem (though, truth be told, not a very effective one). Clem can now often be found straddling the top of the barricade, reminding me of Cosette in Les Misèrables. I’ll let you know if she breaks out into a rousing rendition of “Do You Hear The People Sing?” before Christmas.
At the smaller, family-run Domaines, winetastings are almost always free. There is never an obligation to buy, but do keep in mind that making wine requires a lot of hard work. If you like the wine, it is good manners to buy a bottle or two after the tasting. This is one of those unspoken yet understood points of etiquette.
Many people drop in to the smaller Domaines without an appointment for impromptu tastings. While this is indeed accepted practice, all the winemakers I know here are always saying how they prefer an appointment. This way they can set aside time in their busy days to consecrate to the tasting, and a more relaxed, more involved tasting is inevitably the result.
Don’t keep going back to the same (small) place expecting tastings every time you come to buy a bottle or two. Better to vary the places you visit, and besides, this is the best way to discover the unbelievably diverse world of French wines!
You are not expected to swallow everything you are given to taste, though you can if you want. It is perfectly polite to spit. Complain about those nasty gendarmes patrolling the routes with their alcohol tests and you will be viewed as un type sympathique. If the spittoon isn’t conspicuous, ask for one; this is infinitely preferable to spitting into the Sterling silver family heirloom champagne bucket by mistake.
If they offer you a free bottle of something nice at the end of your tasting, by all means accept it – they wouldn’t offer it if it wasn’t heart-felt; that’s the Burgundian way.
*”Authentic France Travel Tips” are posted every Tuesday and give ideas for savvy travellers who want to experience the authentic side of France.
One thing that many visitors to France remark upon is the gorgeousness of the children’s shoes. It’s true. Take a gander, for example at Clémentine’s first pair of “real” shoes that I bought her in Beaune a couple of months ago.
I swear to God, they are so cute, at times I wonder if I’m not going to eat them.
But as you can see in the above photo of Clem, the gorgeous shoes are not just for looks. They are properly designed to stabilize the child’s ankles to help them stand up and walk, and support the little muffin feet.
And proper, leather shoes are not just for babies. In France, parents generally only allow their younger children to wear running shoes, which are referred to here as les tennis or les baskets in an interesting bastardization of English sports terminology, for playing sports.
But shoes of such undeniable cuteness must cost a fortune, you say? Mais non! Clem’s little boots cost me 19.00 Euros at La Halles Aux Chaussures across from E.LECLERC in Beaune.
Furthermore Clem, like many French children, only has this one pair of shoes. I find one pair is all she needs.
Older children such as Charlotte and Camille usually have two pair; les tennis specifically for playing sports, and then a pair of really beautiful leather shoes in neat colours and with whimsical design for school and gadding about town with the parents.
Below is a photo of Clem gadding about at her friend Mauhault’s house in Beaune in her French shoes.
And this week, Clem has been taking her first steps in her first pair of shoes. I think after she’s grown out of them I’m going to have to frame them or something.
**Frenchitude Fridays (French + Attitude = Frenchitude) give ideas for injecting a bit of frenchness into your life, whether you live in China or Colorado.