If you’re counting down the days with anticipation until you and your family get to head over to France to spend Christmas together, you might have a long list of activities and experiences that you’re looking forward to enjoying. With Christmas celebrated all over the globe, there are some subtle differences from culture to culture that make spending the festive season away from home even more exciting.
When visiting France over the Christmas period, be prepared to rearrange the timing of your main feast. Instead of digging in on Christmas day, the typical French family will attend midnight mass before returning home to indulge in a Christmas Eve meal, named Le Réveillon. Sitting down and bonding over the many courses of the meal is an exceptional way to welcome Christmas day, and the rich flavours recognise the best of French cuisine. The event is an intimate time for you and your family members, and rarely will you ever find friends invited along to join you at your table.
The menu will vary depending on which region of France that you’re visiting. However, if you’re looking to experience the most of the French cuisine, why not make a menu to include a variety of the most commonly found dishes? We’ve composed a list of some of the meals that are traditionally eaten as part of le réveillon, so take a look and get those taste buds watering!
Christmas in France would not be complete without the decadence of foie gras. Its buttery texture is the perfect accompaniment to a variety of other foods, as well as a glass of wine thanks to its understated flavour. Made from the liver of duck or goose that has been specifically fattened, according to French law, it “belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France”.
Foie gras is favoured in locations such as Paris and the south-west of the country, where spreading it on toast or sliced bread is the preferred method of experiencing the delicacy. Not only is this an essential part of Le Réveillon, but also over the duration of the holidays, where it is offered as a snack.
Escargot is synonymous with France, with the cooked land snails being one of the countries most famed dishes. Usually bathed in garlic butter, they are typically enjoyed with parsley, especially in Burgundy. One of the easiest ways to incorporate escargot into your Christmas feast is by picking up a frozen bag at your local supermarket, where they are almost always on offer.
If you’re wondering whether you’ll have to substitute your beloved turkey for something else this Christmas, then you will be pleased to know that, for many French families, it is the chosen meat for their plat principle or main meal. As one of the most commonly found meats, as well as goose and guineafowl, it is paired with chestnut stuffing, which is one of the most well-loved elements of the feast, in addition to cranberry sauces and relishes.
As important as the food is the wine, and for the main Christmas meal, you can expect to wash down your beautifully prepared turkey with copious amounts of red wine.
A festive French feast would not be complete without a selection of cheeses for the whole family to enjoy. Traditionally, the cheese board will be made up of a minimum of three kinds of cheese, most commonly lait de Vache (cow’s milk), de brebis (female sheep) and et de chêvre (goat’s milk).
The key to the perfect cheeseboard is having a variety of different textures and flavours. From the tangy, creaminess of Roquefort to the mellowness of Marroilles, make sure that you have a good selection of wines to pair with the board to give your feast the perfect end.
Whether you’re visiting France or not this Christmas period, why not try introducing some of these dishes to your festive meal? If you are tempted by the food on offer, take a look at the accommodation that we have on offer which is perfect for a French Christmas villa holiday and get in touch today!
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