When I first bought my little French house in 2004, Halloween flew by without so much as a flutter here in the sticks. There were no kids trick or treating, no carved pumpkins on doorsteps and the shops didn’t make a big thing of it. If you were lucky you might get a few pumpkin shaped chocolates if you went to one of the bigger towns, but that was about it. Sure, in Paris it’s a ‘thing’, there’s even a haunted manor house near the Gare du Nord that puts on a rather scary Halloween themed event. But here, non, nothing – normally.
This year everyone seems to have gone Halloween mad. In the chocolateries in every town there are white chocolate phantoms, beautifully decorated chocolate pumpkins of all sizes and colours, and even the vegetable stalls at the market are getting in on the act.
A house in the next village along started to be decorated weeks ahead of the day in a way that’s never been seen before. Now those of you who are Halloween fans might think that a house with a few witches at the windows (not real ones of course, at least I don’t think so, they are also rather tastefully dressed, this is France after all), ghouls, ghosts and scary clowns galore – is not much to write home about. But in these parts, it causes drivers to stop their cars and get out and look. The family who own the house are Halloween mad and when we stopped to admire their display, they invited us to tour their large garden to enjoy the spooky scene. Smoke billowed, ghosts cackled and coffin lids creaked, and disco music played. Meanwhile I could see the family in their kitchen eating dinner and watching us fascinated visitors! (You can see the garden on Instagram here).
So, in anticipation of Halloween now being a ‘thing’ in France, this year I have stocked up on treats and I am expecting several miniature witches and wizards, a couple of Harry Potters and maybe a Yoda or two to come and cast a spell of good luck on my doorstep – goodness knows we could all do with some.
Wishing you a Happy Halloween, or as Bread Man who delivers the bread to my little village says ‘appy ‘alloween, much good luck and bisous from my little pigsty in the middle of nowhere, northern France
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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