Seasonal ideas

Things to do in France at Christmas

There are many reasons why you should visit France during the Christmas period, here are a few of our favourite things to see and do.

France at Christmas time is a winter wonderland. It’s home to a number of festive traditions, from extravagant meals on Christmas Eve to fantastic cultural events happening throughout December, and I always love returning home to France during this time of year. It’s also a great time to enjoy new and exciting experiences with your friends and family, so why not pop to France during the Christmas period and discover a new festive tradition?

Réveillon on Christmas Eve (or NYE)

In France (and also French-speaking places such as Québec, Romania, Portugal and Belgium) a réveillon is a long, enjoyable meal which is often the start of an evening of entertainment. It takes place either on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve (or both) and anyone enjoying a réveillon properly must stay away until midnight and, ideally, into the wee hours.

Traditionally, Christmas Eve is to be enjoyed with close friends and family members, while New Year’s Eve is for everyone to enjoy together. I adore this French tradition, which features the most beautiful meals and some of my favourite French dishes, such as smoked salmon on blinis, oysters and scallops, while the star of the show is often roasted turkey with chestnuts.

Saint Nicholas Festival in Nancy

Habits de Lumière in Épernay

Taking place on the first weekend of December every year, Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated in the city of Nancy, a beautiful destination in north-eastern France, home to such sights as the stunning 18th-century Stanislas Square. Celebrated in France, amongst other countries, Saint Nicholas Day celebrates the Patron Saint of Lorraine – the protector of the weak and oppressed.

A traditional day of feasting, to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, Nancy comes alive with parades and floats, with the city choosing a different theme each year, choosing from topics surrounding the history of Lorraine. It’s a fantastic family-friendly event and one that’s rooted in French culture, so be sure to check it out if you’re in the area.

Famous for being the capital of the Champagne region, Épernay hosts the fantastic Habits de Lumière event. For three days in mid-December the city lights up and a parade leads spectators down the famous Avenue de Champagne! I love this festival as it’s really Christmassy, with plenty of sparkle, lights and decorations.

A celebration of the city’s local art, culture and food, you can enjoy brilliant theatre and arts performances, as well as cooking demonstrations which highlight some of the best local produce, such as Champagne vineyards, regional cheeses and mouth-watering desserts. My husband loves the vintage car parade that takes place on Sunday morning, and there’s even a tea party in the afternoon for the little ones.

Travelling to France during the Christmas period? With LeShuttle you can travel from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes.

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