As the nights get darker and the temperature begins to drop, you may be tempted to cast your thoughts ahead to the coming winter months and begin to think about your plans for Christmas. One of the joys that autumn brings is the excitement of the impending holiday season, so thinking ahead and considering booking a Christmas trip to France is definitely acceptable in our eyes.
Although Christmas is celebrated globally, there are some cultural differences that you may notice when visiting the country over the month of December, with some of the dissimilarities happening from region to region. With the festive period officially beginning on 6th December, most notably in eastern and northern France, those heading to the country can expect to experience a different host of activities than they may be used to.
So, as you begin to wrap up warm because of the chill in the air, cast your sights ahead to the winter months and what activities you and your family could enjoy if you decide to book a winter holiday. Below are some of our favourites that we would advise you to consider.
Habits de Lumiere
For the past 17 years, the champagne capital of the world, Epernay, celebrates with food, drinks and events over the course of three days. The event, which is free to attend, begins on Friday 8th December, with a projection of light and sound on the walls of the city hall. Following the light display, follow the procession around the town, where you can join a host of luminous angels, white horses and luminous robes along the Avenue de Champagne.
Another popular activity that the French like to participate in over the festive period is a trip to the circus. Although not synonymous with Christmas in the UK, one of France’s most popular circuses, Cirque D’Hiver or The Winter Circus, has been running since 1852 and has been a prominent feature in the French world of theatre ever since.
Although the home of Cirque D’Hiver is located in Paris, the circus tours over the run-up to Christmas, with shows in Marseille, Saint-Etienne and Dijon to name a few. However, there are many other companies who also put on shows from October to January, so keep your eyes open!
St. Nicholas’ Day in Lorraine
In the north-eastern region of France, Lorraine, December 6th is a day of celebration. The area comes alive to commemorate their patron, Saint Nicholas, holding festivities and ceremonies for the families to remember his story. Traditionally, a donkey has been said to carry baskets filled with treats for children, including small gifts and sweets, with bakeries also becoming hives for locals to flock to specialities such as gingerbread cookies and mannals.
The popular legend states that Saint Nicholas saved three children, who had wandered away from their families and, unfortunately, found themselves lost. Before they were saved by the Saint, they ended up in the hands of an evil butcher who had turned to for help. After the butcher attacked the three young children, salting them and placing them in a large tub, Saint Nicholas intervened, managing to reunite the families.
Whilst the story may not be commonly heard in the UK, it is a widely celebrated holiday. In Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, December 6th is filled with parades and processions; a different theme based on the history of Lorraine dictates the appearance of the floats involved. The celebrations do not stop on Friday, with live music, theatre performances and dancing taking place over the rest of the weekend.
If this list has left you lusting after a rich hot chocolate while wrapped up in the warmest winter coat you can find, then why not consider booking a holiday for you and your family to France this winter? Staying in a range of luxury villas, France has never seemed like such a good place to embrace the wintery weather.
We would love to hear your thoughts on visiting France in the winter and if there are any Christmas-themed events or markets that you love attending every year. Reach out to us on our social channels and let us know!
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