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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

Christmas in France – food shopping and what to expect

Christmas in France, when it comes to food shopping, is an experience, one that I love. It fascinates me seeing the different types of food filling the shelves and the displays that appear in nearly every supermarket.

Christmas is one of those times of the year where it’s fun to try something new. When I first moved to France I loved spending time in the shops at Christmas time. Seeing how different the displays were from those in the UK helped me understand French Christmas traditions.

So for those of you who have never spent Christmas in France this post is for you. And if you’re interested to know more about the food served for the Xmas meal, read this blog post here >>>

Foie Gras – a French Speciality at Christmas

This is top of the list when it comes to Christmas food. Literally translated as “fatty liver” it’s a French delicacy. Sometimes you’ll find it in the meat section whole, or offered prepared for you as a mousse or pate. It can be a bit on the pricey side. But there are always deals to be had if you look hard enough.

I’m proud to say that the main region for producing Foie Gras is right here in the Nouvelle Aquitaine in Périgord (Dordogne).

Escargot – a French tradition at Christmas

Almost as popular as Foie Gras snails are very much a staple of French life. Here where I live in the Charente they have their own name for them “Cagouille”. My French neighbour Stefan raves about them. He’s tried to get me to eat them on many occasions but so far I’ve resisted.

Apparently the best way to cook them is in garlic butter with lots of parsley. He told me that although snails are eaten throughout the year, 90% of snail consumption in France happens over the Christmas period.

Oysters – a French favourite at Christmas & any other time of year

We certainly can’t forget oysters when it comes to French Christmas food favourites. Nearly every French person I’ve spoken to about oysters sings their virtue. Personally, I don’t get it. They’re slimy and although they look pretty when served in the shells, in order to eat them I have to shut my eyes and literally throw the oyster down my throat.

I don’t want to taste it or feel the texture of it going down. That to me is pointless. Not to mention it’s like swallowing half the sea. It’s so salty and I don’t for one second believe in their aphrodisiac powers.

Still apparently, the Charente Maritime, the next department from where I live, is home to some of the best oysters. Just off the Atlantic Coast the island of Ile de Ré is famous for them.

Des oeufs de caille

Quails eggs are yet another delicacy that I can’t quite bring myself to eat. Usually these would be hard boiled and form part of the Le Réveillon de Noël, the Christmas Eve meal.


Candied Fruits are seen everywhere at Christmas in France

Each Christmas there is a display of candied fruits in a variety of different baskets and boxes. Melons, cherries, apricots and even pineapple are all included.

They’re known for being produced in Provence and form part of the 13 desserts for the Repas de Noël, a Christmas tradition from that region.

As a Brit, they’re more what I’d use in things like Christmas Cake and Mince Pies.

Wooden Wine Gift Boxes Showcasing French wine

France is renowned for its wine. So it stands to reason that wine forms a big part of Christmas, and not just the celebrations.

Here in the Charente you see big displays of wine gifts packaged in wooden boxes. And I’m not just talking one or two I’m talking aisles full of these gifts. They look really inviting and I’ve certainly purchased a few in my time as gifts for people, and they’re always well received. Living as we do only 90 minutes from Bordeaux, most of the boxes are made up of wine from this region.

Perhaps you can now understand my fascination with Christmas in France and food shopping in the supermarket. There are so many things to discover and usually a story behind each one, making it all the more intriguing.


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