The best of both worlds
Growing up in France in a British family meant editorial assistant Sophie Gardner-Roberts doubled up on Christmas celebrations and enjoyed both French and English traditions.
“My siblings and I used to gape at our French friends when they told us about their family Réveillon dinners where they stayed up until midnight on Christmas Eve to open their presents, while their parents enjoyed a huge meal that lasts several hours.
Our family keeps the British tradition of waiting until Christmas Day to open presents but chooses to celebrate Christmas Eve with a tasty spread of luxurious French food: oysters, snails (we live in Burgundy so they are as fresh as you can get them), foie gras toasts with local chutneys and jams, smoked salmon and sometimes frog legs, all washed down with our favourite Crémant de Bourgogne and rounded off with a big cheese platter.
It was tricky to explain to our French schoolmates why we would hang ‘giant socks’ at the end of our beds but stockings were another British element imported by our parents and one we loved to brag about as children.
On Christmas Day, we sit down to a traditional dinner, complete with decidedly British sides such as bread sauce, bacon-wrapped prunes and stuffing. The only French twists are found in the wine served at the table, the French cheese course and a decadent chocolate bûche de Noël for dessert. We always try to get crackers – another tradition that has our French friends shaking their heads in disbelief – sent over from the UK as you cannot find them anywhere in France. “