Christmas in France is all about food – the best of everything, beautifully cooked, prepared and presented.
It is a time to relax and linger over a delicious meal with friends and family, a time of indulgence and the finest of food and wine.
In France it is Christmas Eve when the big get together generally takes place. “Le réveillon” as it is called, can go on for several hours and into the next morning (hence its name which literally means the wake up).
Le Reveillon Christmas Eve
For many French families, the Christmas Eve meal is even more important than Christmas Day lunch.
Actually, there are two meals called the le réveillon in France. If you haven’t over indulged enough on Christmas Eve, you can do it all again on New Year’s Eve just to make sure! This is another time for family and friends to get together over another long meal, seeing in the New Year with the best of French food and wine and then often going on to a party that won’t start until after midnight but will go on until the sun comes up on New Year’s Day.
For le réveillon – start with an aperitif, a pre-dinner drink served with nibbles or an amuse-bouche, literally something that amuses your mouth. Champagne of course, or perhaps Kir or Kir Royale – white wine or Champagne served with cassis, a liqueur which may be cherries, blackcurrant or even peach. Champagne cocktails are also popular – here are five classic Champagne cocktail recipes. Even beer gets festive at this time of the year – you can add a liqueur called Picon or simply buy Christmas beer which you’ll find easily in supermarkets and food stores.
Work your way through the entrée (starter) which is often oysters or foie gras. Rich foods and the best that money can buy is the order du jour. Then it’s onto the plat principal (main dish) followed by dessert and possibly more. In some parts of southern France thirteen desserts are traditional!
Expect to have a different wine, paired perfectly with each course.
It is unthinkable for a French person to consider a meal without cheese at Christmas.
At this time of the year some of the favourite fromages include Camembert from Normandy, blue cheese from the Auvergne, goats’ cheese from Poitou, Comté from Franche-Comté and a pungent Maroilles from Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
Go overboard with a bit of cheese carving and decorating, serve with baguette or savoury biscuits and say cheese for those Christmas photographs…
If you’re looking for some fabulous French festive recipes check out:
A simple to make and utterly scrumptious Buche de Noel
Rachel Khoo’s Kugelhopf Cake
Daniel Galmiche’s Madeleines with chocolate sorbet