When I first moved to France it was in September and I immediately got the builders in who set about renovating the house that I bought.
By Christmas the entire place was covered in a thin layer of white dust just like talcum powder. My builders, Francois and Jacques fell about laughing when I complained. They helpfully suggested that I should only wear white clothes so that I wouldn’t be able to see the dust. Oh so helpful and what a daft idea.
We realised that the French do not have a Christmas Day, they celebrate on Christmas Eve so my Brother, me and the dogs just resigned ourselves for a non-Christmas time. The village ( or was it a Hamlet?) I had chosen was very small and simply had one butcher, a post office, hairdresser, newsagent, a restaurant and bread shop.
The villagers were very suspicious to start with – the only other English people were a couple who rented their house out and were only living there for two months a year.
However they realised that we were there to stay and became very friendly. The Butcher had a tremendous sense of humour and was the font of all gossip in the village. There was a small bench in his shop and everyone sat there waiting their turn while he was serving his meat and news of who was doing what!
My first French Christmas
On the first Christmas I asked the Butcher to please get some beef on the bone for us. That floored him , he kept banging on that we should be eating turkey. I stood my ground and when I went to collect it there was much muttering about “Les Rosbifs! which is what the French call English people just we call the “Frogs”.
The second Christmas my brother and I invited everyone we knew to come for drinks and nibbles two days before. The all seemed to be charmed, thanked us profusely and assured us they would love to come.
We rushed around making the house look as festive as possible and sat back and waited and waited. It was one of those nightmares that you have before a party when you think that no one is coming until the first ring of the doorbell and then you are off. Celebrations start in earnest.
Not us. Not one ring on the doorbell or knock on the door so two rather merry people (why waste perfectly good opened bottles) and two rather fat dogs (why waste the nibbles too) all ended up huddled on the sofa watching TV!
The next day everyone greeted us with their normal cheery greetings. They didn’t mention a word about not turning up for our celebrations! So we just gave the Gallic shrug we had perfected by then and life carried on as usual.
Image credit: Free Digital Photos