The best of both worlds

Living France - - Insight -

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. “

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