Foodie Christmas Traditions of France

Written by on November 23, 2016 in Gastronomy


The French celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th of December when ‘Père Noël’ leaves gifts for good children in shoes beneath the tree. Start with a champagne aperitif with nibbles or amuse bouches (literally nibbles that amuse the mouth).

Then the serious task of feasting commences. There are usually several (sometimes as many as four!) starters such as ‘boudin blanc’, a white sausage made with pork and truffles and served warm, gently browned in a pan of melted butter. Seafood platter, oysters, smoked salmon, scallops, or foie gras served with warm toast and chilled white sauterne are other favourite ‘entrées’.

Amazingly this comes before the guests tuck into the big bird Turkey, potatoes and vegetables are a classic in France too.

Cheese is served before dessert – a choice laid out on a platter to tempt (see our easy French Christmas Cheese Wreath recipe).


Dessert is often a sweet Christmas log made of chocolate, ice-cream or fruits called a buche de noel. In the south of France 13 desserts are a tradition.

Obviously a little Calvados or Cognac rounds this off beautifully.  Then it’s time to relax, sleep off the meal until noon when a hearty lunch of leftovers… awaits!

Le St Nicolas: A large biscuit in the shape of St Nicolas, iced in red and white. This appears in the baker’s shops from the end of November to celebrate the feast of Saint Nicolas on December the 6th. Heart shaped biscuits are also popular.


Le Craquelin: A twisted figure of 8 shaped pastry like a croissant which the locals dunk in hot chocolate (which some lace with a splash of Kirsch). This is a northern French speciality and you’ll find this delish pastry in patisseries in the Boulogne region. Craquelins are usually eaten warm for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Le pudding de Noël: A sort of plum pudding… now where could that idea come from?!


La Galette des Rois:  It looks like a thick flaky pastry pancake and it always comes with a crown. On the first Sunday after New Year’s day the French celebrate Epiphany with a cake which hides a “bean” called a “feve”. Whoever finds the bean in his or her slice becomes King or Queen for the day and chooses a partner to reign with them! These days it’s no longer a bean but small porcelain or metal figure hides within the apple or almond filling. Want to make one at home? Here’s a recipe!

Related Articles

Guide to gluten free France

Guide to gluten free France

Written by on September 2, 2019 in Gastronomy

France might have the best bread in the world – baguettes, croissants, brioches, and much more. And don’t forget the pastries! Is there anything better than a rich French éclair? But what if you can’t eat any of it? An estimated 7% of the population has a gluten intolerance of one sort or another. Can […]

Continue Reading

All about French oysters

All about French oysters

Written by on August 20, 2019 in Gastronomy

Italian adventurer Casanova was a fan of oysters and it’s said that he ate 50 for breakfast. Sounds a little over the top and yet oysters are a natural food source, responsibly and sustainably grown and harvested. Both wild and farmed oysters are rich in rare amino acids and zinc. The latter is an essential […]

Continue Reading

Indulge your passion for fabulous food in northern France

In 2010, UNESCO awarded French cuisine ‘World intangible heritage status’, reflecting the importance of great food in France. A nip across, or under, the English Channel to northern France reveals a wealth of gastronomic delights. From lush produce at street markets, to tasty treats at the supermarket, cheese shops, wine shops and boulangeries that smell so […]

Continue Reading

How to do coffee, the Parisian way

At some point in history, it just became a fact that everything is more stylish in Paris. Of course, lot of other cities have their own version of “cool”, but there seems to a be a special way in which the Parisians do things that make everything seem so effortless and so… chic. Coffee is […]

Continue Reading

Cheese and Wine – the flavours of France

Nothing characterises French cuisine like cheese and wine!  Both have been made for centuries in France, it is said that Cantal cheese from the Cantal region in the Auvergne has been enjoyed for at least two millennia and it’s mentioned by Roman historian Pliny the Elder in a document dating back to 1 BC. There […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.