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Common French Christmas Phrases

Top tips for “French phrases for Christmas”…

These are typical French phrases you’ll hear at Christmas time in France, but if you want to use them during your next visit in Paris (not at Christmas), feel free to use the idioms and adapt them to your needs. Parisians will be impressed by your local knowledge!

Wish a “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays” and “Happy New Year” in French

Joyeux Noël!
Merry Christmas

“The holidays” include both Noël and Le Nouvel An, and can be packed in “Les Fêtes de fin d’année”. This can be shortened to “les fêtes” like this:

Tu fais quoi pour les fêtes?
What are you doing for the holidays?

Bonnes fêtes de fin d’année.
This means “Happy holidays!”

TIP: “Bonnes fêtes de fin d’année” is perfect for a formal email, especially the last one before Christmas.

If you write Christmas cards (Les cartes de voeux), here are 2 ready-to-use messages:

Nous vous souhaitons de joyeuses fêtes de Noël et une excellente année 2014.
Bonnes fêtes de fin d’année de la part de la famille Smith.

Don’t forget to wish a “Bonne année” (Happy New Year) to each person you meet at the beginning of January!

Prepare for a 4-hour long Christmas dinner

French Christmas dinners last forever: their preparation and enjoyment takes hours; and you’ll probably have two: one on the 24th for dinner and another on the 25th at lunchtime. So here comes the dreaded question from your in-laws:

Vous venez pour le 24 ou le 25?
Will you come on the 24th or 25th?

Next will be the classic question about which traditional “entrées” (starters) to have at French Christmas dinner this year:

Je fais huîtres, saumon, fois gras ou les trois?
Should I make oysters, salmon, foie gras or all 3?

Sometimes, it’s all of them! (Told you the dinners lasted hours!)

It’s also very common to eat turkey. My personal favourite is “dinde aux marrons” – turkey and chestnuts. Remember to order it at the butcher’s, and then ask your sweetie to pick it up for you!

Tu peux passer chercher la dinde chez le boucher?
Can you go and pick up the turkey at the butcher’s?

The end of the meal comes with the traditional “bûche de Noël”.  It’s a French cake made of ice cream or butter cream that looks like a log. It is decorated with plastic or chocolate trees, mushrooms, lumberjacks and axes.

Have you ordered the bûche?

If you haven’t eaten enough, there are always chocolates and sweets to fill up your stomach: the “papillotes”. The papillotes are either chocolates or “pâtes de fruit”. They contain a paper with a joke on it (in French, obviously: good luck with the translation!) and sometimes a banger called a “pétard”.

Oh mince! J’ai oublié les papillotes!
Damn! I forgot the “papillotes “!

Buying gifts at Christmas in France

The December-long preparation of Christmas includes finding the best presents to put under “le sapin de Noël” (the Christmas tree) for your loved ones. So starting December 1st, you’ll hear phrases such as:

Tu es au point sur tes cadeaux?
Are you OK on your Christmas gifts?

Tu veux quoi pour Noël?
What do you want for Christmas?

Je cherche encore un cadeau de Noël pour ma soeur. Tu as une idée?
I’m still looking for an idea for my sister’s Christmas present. Do you have an idea?

If you write a little note on your present, here is the script:

Pour Julie de la part de Marc.
For Julie, from Marc.

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