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Posts tagged ‘Noël’

No. 86: Marché de Noël

Christmas markets can be found in all the major cities of France, and also in the small villages and hamlets. Most of them are characterized by charming wooden chalets, vin chaud, local food specialties, gingerbread, and lots and lots of saucisson.


They have strayed from their original purpose of supplying rural French femmes au foyer with all the hard to find ingredients for preparing the traditional holiday feast. And while the marché de Noël originated in the northern Alsace region, (belonging to Germany at assorted moments in history) and tend to draws on German Christmas market traditions, these days, at least in Paris most of the “handcrafted” toys and gifts are junky stuff mass produced in China.

That said, I still love them. They do add a terrifically festive feel to France in December. Here are the ones I’ve managed to see this year.

Marché de Noël Suédois, Swedish Church in Paris

I’d never been to a Swedish Christmas market so I really enjoyed this one. It was small and intimate, and the Swedish community was so very friendly. All things Swedish and holiday-ish available, including reindeer sausage, amazing ginger crisps, and of course Swedish meatballs and Glögg. (Held right before Lucia, so you’ve already missed it, but do look for it next year.)


Marché de Noël, La Défense

More than 350 stands, very jolly despite the chalets nestled in the surreal setting of glass high-rise buildings and the ominous Grande Arche. (November 27-December 28.)


Marché de Noël, Avenue des Champs-Elysées

The largest Christmas market within the Paris city limits. Incredibly crowded and best at nighttime—if you are going to brave the throngs of people, you might as well see the lights. (November 15-January 5.)

Marché de Noël, Trocadero

About 100 stands, a “snow” village, and an ice-skating rink with the best view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Lots of tourist, kiddos, African Eiffel Tower sellers, and pickpockets.

Marché de Noël, Notre Dame Cathedral



Charming and cheery Christmassy views. Good photo opportunities. Beware of the gypsies and their tricks.

Marché de Noël on my bucket list:

Marché de Noël, Strasbourg

The mother of all Christmas markets and the largest and oldest one in France. A pilgrimage for those obsessed with Noël. Set in front of the Strasbourg Cathedral. I’ve seen pictures and the views are spectacular.

Marché de Noël, Bordeaux

Supposedly one of the more “magical” of the French Christmas markets, and of course, a great opportunity to stock up on wine from Bordeaux.

Marché de Noël, Nancy

Even though Nancy, France is my namesake, I have never made it there. I need to. Know for its range of traditional and regional foods and less junk from China.



femmes au foyer: housewives

marché de Noël: Christmas markets

saucisson: sausage

vin chaud: mulled wine


No. 83: Tacky Christmas Trees

What I love about these really tacky Christmas trees in France is that the fact that they exist proves that the French do NOT have impeccable taste, and are, after all, human like the rest of us.

These foam sprayed trees don’t just come in white (to mimic snow), but in every color imaginable, and they seem to be selling like hotcakes.

Tacky Christmas Tree

No. 82: More Christmas Window Licking

I licked a few more windows this week, but this time exclusively at Printemps. Their windows are sponsored by Prada, oh la la!


They tell less of at story than the windows at Galeries Layafette, instead they combine adorably Prada-dressed or adventure-bound Teddy Bears with luxury products.



More fun than looking at the windows was watching the little children react and see the wonder and excitement in their faces.



lèche-vitrine: window shopping (literally, licking the windows)

Printemps: one of the largest department stores in Paris (literally, spring)

No. 77: Lingering Autumn

It looks like nature forgot to tell the trees around the Eiffel Tower that it is Christmastime…mais pour moi, c’est merveilleux.


This gorgeous tree just won’t give up.


mais pour moi, c’est merveilleux: but for me, it’s marvelous

No. 76: la petite bûchette


Imagine my delight when right after my Bûche de Noël afternoon with Marie-Françoise, I wandered into my corner pâtisserie to pick up some bread for dinner, et voilá, there behind the glass were these adorable bûchettes. As you know, j’adore anything mini in France, so I couldn’t pass them up. Four didn’t seem too lucky, so I bought five.

No. 74: Père Noël’s Reindeer

…and what about Père Noël and his renne (reindeer)?



Well naturally some of them have different names in French, but to make things even easier for Santa on his big night,  the French have assigned each reindeer an unique attribute, just to make sure things run smoothly…

… et alors, you know…

TORNADE, le plus rapide, the quickest – DASHER

DANSEUR, la plus gracieuse, the most graceful—DANCER

FURIE, le plus puissant, the most powerful—PRANCER

FRINGANT, belle et puissante, the beautiful and powerful—VIXEN

COMÉTE, qui apporte le bonheur aux enfants, who brings children happiness—COMET

CUPIDON: qui améme l’amour aux enfant, who brings children love—CUPID

TONNERRE, le plus fort, the strongest (thunder)—DONNER

ÉCLAIR, qui apporte la lumière, who brings light, (lightning)—BLITZEN

…but do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all…RODOLPHE LE RENNE AU NEZ ROUGE…


And even though in English, the carol starts by introducing the reindeer one-by-one, in French, it starts this way, while sung to the same familiar tune:

Quand la neige recouvre la verte Finlande,

Et que les rennes traversent la lande,

Le vent dans la nuit

Au troupeau parle encore de lui

When snow covers green Finland

         And reindeer cross the moor

         The night wind

         Still talks to the herd about him…

Take a look here to see the whole song in action. Amusez-vous!



Amusez-vous! Have fun!

Père Noël: Father Christmas, Santa Claus



No. 73: Fun Christmas Words

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a language post, but I’ve come across several holiday words and phrases in the last few days that have made me grin. Here is a petite sample:

le bonhomme de neige, a good old chap made of snow (or in this case lights)

le bonhomme de neige, a good old chap made of snow (or in this case lights)

  • Un bonhomme de neige: a snowman, but literally a snow “chap”, “fellow”, or “old sport”.  I love the jovial image that one conjures up, and it makes me wonder if a gingerbread man is called “un bonhomme pain d’épice”, because, after all, they are quite jolly fellows too. (Please do let me know.)IMG_2201
  • Noël sous le neige: white Christmas, but literally “Christmas under the snow.” How I love Christmas when it is under the snow!
  • canne à sucre: a candy cane, but literally a sugar stick, nothing like calling a spade a spade.IMG_2218
  • Père Fouettard: the boogeyman (who tags along with Saint Nicolas, and depending on the family, hands out coal to the naughty children, or in the worse case scenario, flogs the child); literally “father spanker” or “father whipper”.Hans_Trapp
  • Noël malin: Christmas sales, but literally “shrewd Christmas”; obviously only for those clever enough to shop the sales.