Joyeux Noël!

Bonjour tout le monde, j’espère que vous allez tous bien! Heureuse de vous revoir! I’m currently writing this blog on my way back home to Scotland for the Christmas holidays, so I thought it fitting this entry be dedicated to Noël en France!

The festivities in Clermont-Ferrand kicked off this year on the 19th of November with the switch on of the huge sapin de Noël in Place de Jaude. Moi et mes potes attended the light switch on and then went for a wander round the markets in Place de la Victoire (spot the black cathedral!), which also opened on the same evening. Some French favourites you might find at marchés de Noël include barbe à papa, pomme d’amour, vin chaud, Tartiflette, huîtres, and of course crêpes.

Christmas in Place de Jaude

I was also lucky enough to visit les marchés de Noël in another French city – Annecy. Annecy is a very small city near the Alps, sometimes called ‘la petite Venise des Alpes‘. It had traditional French marchés de Noël on the banks of lac d’Annecy, and then in the centre there was a more modern market area under shelter with plenty of bars, and benches to sit and eat and drink. This was really a beautiful time of year to visit Annecy. I left feeling very festive after seeing all of the snow covered mountains surrounding the little city – it even snowed a bit while we were there, which really put me in the Christmas mood!

A great thing about living in mainland Europe is how easy it is to just jump on a train to another country whenever you like. I took full advantage of this, and decided to head to Geneva, Switzerland, and Bruges, Belgium for two weekends away with my other language assistant friends. Both cities were beautifully decorated for Christmas with their own markets and festive events. Bruges was my favourite, as it had a light festival in the form of a walking trail which you could follow to see all different types of light installations!



One of the light artworks in Bruges. Can you translate the message?

I rounded off the festivities in France with a trip to Lyon for the Fête des Lumières.

This event was traditionally for expressing gratitude toward Mary, mother of Jesus, and every house would place a lit candle on their windowsill. Although this tradition remains at the heart of the event, and everywhere you look in Lyon during this time you will see lit candles, it has now become a hugely popular four day spectacle that takes place every December. This year it took place on the evenings of the 8th-11th of December, and included over thirty artworks based on light spread out all over the city! I thoroughly enjoyed walking around Lyon at night to see all of these impressive light installations, even if it did require over 30,000 steps!

Et voilà! I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into les festivités de Noël en France, and its neighbouring countries! Je vous souhaite de bonnes vacances et de joyeuses fêtes! A lannée prochaine…

Le vocabularie

sapin de Noël – Christmas tree

barbe à papa – candy floss (but literally ‘daddy’s beard’)

pomme d’amour – candy apple (but literally ‘love apple’)

Tartiflette – a traditional French casserole type dish of melted cheese, potatoes and bacon

huîtres – oysters

vin chaud – mulled wine

potes – a more informal word for copains/copines/ami(e)s used by young French people

Some additional Christmas vocabulary…

patinoire – ice skating rink

réveillon/veille de Noël – Christmas Eve

la dinde – turkey

bonhomme de neige – snowman

What are your plans for ce Noël ?

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