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Posts Tagged ‘paris’

Classic French Recipes

June 1, 2011 3:58 pm
posted by Rebecca

Think of France and one of the first things to spring to mind will no doubt be delicious dishes full of fresh seafood, beautifully cooked steak and, of course, lashing of cheese.  From instant crowd pleasers like Moules Frites and Croque Monsieur to après ski favourite Raclette (with some more Frites and plenty of Fromage) and then there’s every school child’s nemesis, Escargot.  And of course there are the famous CrêpesTarte Tatin, Gateaux, Eclair, Crème Brûlée… is your mouth watering yet??

Of course there’s much more to traditional French recipes than just Crêpes andFrites…and it’s not all haute cuisine or cordon bleu either. So here are our all time favourite French regional recipes, more rustic than refined in most cases, but guaranteed to get your stomach rumbling!

The Alps…for aprèsski comfort food

When most of us visit The Alps it’s for lashings of fresh air and winter sports, so we can be excused for wanting to sit down at the end of a hard day’s skiing to some truly hearty fare.  It’s little surprise that our favourite Alpine food relies heavily on cheese as the main ingredient! There are, of course, the delicious Fondue and Raclette but one of our favourites is Tartiflette.

Tartiflette is a truly indulgent dish, best appreciated after a strenuous morning on the ski-slopes — or at least a brisk winter’s morning walk. It is important to use a ripe Reblochon, preferably bought a few days in advance and left to reach maturity out of the fridge. Of course, if you have a good cheese monger you will be able to buy one ripe and ready to eat.

Here’s a recipe for the cheese delight, as taken from “The Food of France” by Sarah Woodward:

Tartiflette

Tartiflette

Ingredients:

[Serves 4]

1.5kg medium-sized red potatoes, such as Desirée

1 large white onion, peeled and diced

2 thick rashers of smoked streaky bacon, diced

25g butter

1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ripe Reblochon cheese

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 5.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes whole, in their skins, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the onion and bacon in the butter in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat; they should sweat but not brown.

Drain the potatoes and as soon as they are cool enough to handle peel them — the quicker the better. Slice thickly across.

Choose an ovenproof earthenware dish and rub it well with the other halves of garlic. Layer half the sliced potatoes across the base, season, then scatter over the onion and bacon mixture. Add the remaining potatoes and more seasoning.

Place the whole Reblochon on top. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C/350’F/gas mark 4 for a further 20—25 minutes. The Reblochon should melt within its skin and the fat drip down while the potatoes crisp.

Tartiflette is a filling dish and all you really need to go with it is a nicely dressed green salad.

Try Tartiflette in the alps when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region, and booking for the 2011/2012 ski season starts on June 15th!

Alsace-Lorraine…for a German twist

The cuisine of this corner of north-eastern France brings together influences from neighbouring Germany such as Sauerkraut and marinated meat and veg stew, Baeckeoffe, with more typically French flavours.  Locals are masters of pickling vegetables, smoking meats, and packing sausages.

The region’s two legendary dishes are Foie gras and Quiche Lorraine: the word quiche is from the German “kuchen”, which means cake.  There is some debate about what constitutes a traditional Quiche Lorraine but we like the following recipe for its simplicity:

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

 

Ingredients:

Pie pastry

6-8 slices of bacon, diced

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup of whipping heavy cream

1 or 2 tsp of butter

1/2 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of pepper

1 pinch of grated nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C)

Put bacon dices in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes. Drain. Put in a pan and heat till brown. Drain again.

Roll out pastry in a pie pan. Pastry should come about 1″ up the sides.

Beat eggs, cream and seasoning. Add bacon.

Pour mixture on the pastry, no more than 3/4 of the pie pan.

Reduce heat to 300° F (150°C). Bake for 30 minutes or until pie is cooked. Put a knife in the middle, if it comes clean the quiche is ready.

Let the quiche cool. Do not remove it from the pan. Goes well with a salad.

Just a suggestion: Although traditional recipes do not include it, you can add Swiss cheese such as 1 Gruyère to the egg, cream and bacon mixture, [around 1 cup is best].

Try Quiche Lorraine in Alsace and Lorraine when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.

Brittany and Normandy…for the sweeter things in life

Famed for Crêpes, apples, Normandy cider and Calvados, the north-western tip of France is the best place to head if you have a sweet tooth.  Apple and Calvados sorbet make a welcome appearances on many menus but our heads were turned by this recipe for Bretton Butter Cake, a classic version from Brittany.

Bretton Butter Cake

Brittany Bretton Butter Cake

Ingredients:

[Serves 6-8]

1 ounce instant dry yeast

1 teaspoon plus 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided

3/4 cup lukewarm water

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cold salted butter

1 egg yolk, beaten

Instructions:

Sprinkle the yeast and one teaspoon of sugar over the warm water and allow the yeast to dissolve for 5 minutes. Stir the flour into the yeast mixture until it forms a smooth, thick dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough into a large rectangle, about 9-inches by 13-inches. Dot the surface with 1/4 cup of the cold butter and sprinkle it with 1/4 cup of sugar. Fold the dough into quarters. Repeat the rolling and folding process again, three times.

Preheat an oven to 350F. Once the dough is folded into quarters the last time, fit it into a greased 9-inch round baking pan. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg yolk, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, until it turns golden brown.

Allow the butter cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, run a thin, offset spatula or knife around the edges of the cake, and remove the cake from the baking pan. Serve the cake warm with berries or cream.

Try Bretton Butter Cake in Brittany when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts.

 

Central France…for heart-warming stews

It’s here in the heart of France that you’re most likely to find traditional dishes such asBoeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin.  A good French stew is not something to be rushed – and of course, the crucial ingredient is wine.

One of the most famous recipes from Burgundy is the one that includes its name, Boeuf Bourguignon. This version is adapted from that used by the chef at The Hotel Dieu, Monsieur Vernet:

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients:

[Serves 4]

1.5 kg/3 1/2 lbs stew beef preferably taken from the shoulder or shin

50G/3 1/2 tbsp butter

5 tbsp olive oil

2 carrots

2 onions

small round onions

button mushrooms

100g/1/4 lb fresh bacon

20g/1/4 cup flour

2 cloves garlic (optional)

1 1/2 bottles red burgundy wine

castor sugar

1 bouquet garni

salt and pepper

Instructions:

Marinade the beef, together with a ‘garniture aromatique’ (bouquet garni, onions and carrots,) in the wine and leave to marinade overnight.

Brown thoroughly in oil the drained pieces of meat. Skim off the fat and then sprinkle them with flour.

Add the marinade, the bouquet garni, carrots and onions and cook on a low heat for two hours. During the cooking time glaze until brown some small, round onions, button mushrooms and bacon (cook them in just enough water to cover them and some butter), sprinkle with sugar, cover with tin-foil and cook until the water boils away. Stir from time to time to ensure an even glazing.

Mix with the beef mixture, check the thickness of the sauce and, if necessary, add some beurre manié (butter and flour.) The cooking can be finished in the oven, in a covered casserole, or even covered with flour.

Try Boeuf Bourguignon in Central France when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.

Charentes…for seafood

From eel stew to steaming mussels, the gastronomy of the Poitou-Charentes is heavily based on seafood.   The mussel, an inexpensive mollusk, is prepared in many different ways in France, depending on the region.  The most spectacular is certainly L’éclade, a recipe from Charente Maritime. For this, the mussels are arranged on a bed of dry pine needles and set ablaze. After a minute or two they are cooked and ready to be eaten sizzling hot.

But this recipe is the simplest way to prepare mussels, and a perfect occasion to gather plenty of friends around the table for a huge steaming stock pot fragrant with white wine and shallots.

Mussels with White Wine and Shallots

Mussels with White Wine and Shallots / L’éclade

Ingredients:

5 to 6 pounds mussels, preferably the small bouchots

4 shallots

6 sprigs parsley

10 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup dry white wine

Freshly ground pepper

1 sprig thyme

Salt

Instructions:

Wash the mussels, scraping to remove their grassy “”beards””.

Peel and chop the shallots.

Remove the parsley leaves and chop them finely.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy skillet or saucepan.

Add the shallots and cook until wilted.

Add the wine, a sprinkling of pepper, and thyme.

Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan often so that all the mussels open at about the same time.

Take off the cover, remove the mussels as they open, and place them on a warmed serving platter.

When all the mussels have opened, empty the pan, and strain the cooking broth through a fine sieve.

Wipe out the pan and return the broth to it.

Cook briefly over high heat until boiling.

Cut the remaining butter into small pieces.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk the butter into the broth a little at a time.

Correct the seasoning, if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and serve.

Try Mussels in Charentes when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.

Paris…for anything your heart desires (as long as it’s Croque Monsieur!)

Of course, all roads lead to Paris when it comes to food, where almost anything from the whole of France is available and where diners can pick and choose from more than 9,000 restaurants.

The immediate environs of Paris provide plentiful game but it’s arguably its pastries that the grande dame is most famed for.  That and its bread, the key ingredient to the legendary Croque Monsieur!

Who knows where the tasty snack originated from (the first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910) but today the city’s cafés have thousands of varieties on offer, each bringing their own unique interpretation to this classic dish.  Regional variations exist, with either tomato, Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, smoked salmon (instead of ham), sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese or pineapple.

Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur

The classic recipe is hot ham and cheese (typically emmental or gruyère) grilled sandwich. Simple, quick and delicious!  Fast food at its most fabulous.

Try Croque Monsieur in Paris when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the city.

Picardy...for tarts and terrine

Picardy is known as the market garden of France with bountiful crops, an abundance of seafood and dishes with a distinct, earthy palate.  There’s an undeniable Spanish influence on the regional dish of Escaveche (escabeche in Spain), which is a cold terrine of sweet water fish in wine and vinegar, and Flemish influence on another terrine, PotjevleschAmiens Duck Pate draws the gourmands as does the Flamiche Leek Pie.

Flamiche aux Poireaux

Flamiche aux Poireaux

Ingredients:

2 round, puff-pastry crusts, uncooked

3 tablespoons butter

2 pounds (or more) leeks, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch rounds (don’t use the tougher dark green part)

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1/4 cup grated gruyère or similar cheese (optional)

salt and pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg yolk

Instructions:

[Serves 6]

Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft – about 10 minutes.

Stir in the flour until mixed completely with the leeks. Pour in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes. Stir in nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, line a nine inch tart or pie pan with one of the crusts. Brush the bottom of the crust with the egg yolk mixed with a couple of teaspoons of water. Pour the cooled leek mixture into the crust and top with the second crust. Roll the edges together so that the whole tart is sealed. Make a hole in the centre of the tart so that steam can escape as the tart is cooking and, if you wish, make a design on the top crust with a sharp knife.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375° F. Serve warm.

Try Flamiche aux Poireaux in Picardy when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.

The Pyrénées…for deep-rooted culinary traditions

From black truffles to Foie Gras and Roquefort cheese, the food of the Midi-Pyrénées has made significant contributions to the wider French dining scene.  The region’s traditions and epicurean culture are deeply rooted and fiercely protected.  One of the dishes most synonymous with the Pyrénées is Cassoulet.

Cassoulet

Cassoulet

For the beans:

1 kg (2.2 lb) dried beans: either white navy beans, kidney beans, mojettes, pamier beans or Soissons beans, but the absolute best would be “tarbais” beans.

2 peeled carrots

1 onion, spiked with 3 cloves

1 bouquet garni (thyme, laurel, parsley)

1 large pork rind, cut into 2 halves

Meat:

8 lamb neck cuts (for taste)

8 lamb shoulder pieces, cut into squares of 100 grams (3 oz) each

8 pork loin pieces, cut into 100 grams (3 oz) cubes

8 mule fat duck thighs cut in half

8 pieces, 5 cm (2 inches) each, of Toulouse sausage (scalded and roasted)

Other ingredients:

200 grams (1/2 lb) of carrots and 200 grams (1/2 lb) of onions cut into small cubes

6 garlic cloves, crushed and degermed

1 bouquet garni

2 tablespoonfuls concentrated tomato paste

150 grams (5 oz) goose fat

150 grams (5 oz) bread crumbs

Instructions:

Soak the dry beans overnight in unsalted water.

Next day, put the beans in a large pot and cover them with new water, add the two carrots and the onion with the cloves, the bouquet garni and the pork rinds. Season with pepper and DO NOT SALT. Cook at a slow boil and do not forget to progressively skim the froth that forms on the surface.

Using a large ovenproof dish, sweat the vegetables: carrots, garlic, onions and the bouquet garni in some goose fat for 10 minutes, covering on low heat.

During this time use a large frying pan to brown all of the meats in some goose fat (until they are quite brown). Then retrieve and drain the pieces (in order to remove excess fat). Add tomato paste to the large casserole where you cooked the vegetable garnish.

Cook this mixture for two minutes and then add the meats and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place in the oven and cook at 350°F (180°C or th6), covered, for 2 hours.

Check if the beans are cooked. Once they are almost ready add salt and drain the beans (put the carrots in the large casserole that is already in the oven) and set aside.

Use a needle to check if the meats are well cooked. Next, use a fork and a skimmer to retrieve the meat and the bouquet garni. Be careful not to leave any small bones at the bottom of the dish. Remove excess fat from the remaining vegetables using a spoon. Mix these vegetables in a blender and then put through a sieve, pressing strongly in order to obtain a delicious vegetable sauce. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Put the meat, the beans, the sausage and the pork rinds, cut into 8 pieces, in a large terracotta dish (better known as a “cassole” hence the name of this recipe “cassoulet”) and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 375°F (210°C ) and serve.

Try Cassoulet in The Pyrénées when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.

South of France…for a taste of the Med

Whilst regional recipes found simmering in the south of France are still likely to involve stewing, the further you head the south, the more likely you are to encounter seafood or fragrant herbes de Provence in the mix.

The original Bouillabaisse (bouï abaisso in Provençal, meaning boil and press “bout et abaisse”) was from the Calanque coast between Marseille and Toulon , although it is said to be invented at Saint-Raphaël. Although called a soup, this is really a main dish, a full meal in itself.

Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse

[Serves 6-8]

Ingredients:

200ml / 1/3 pint of olive oil

2 onions thinly sliced

2 leeks trimmed and thinly sliced

3 tomatoes skinned seeded and chopped

4 garlic cloves crushed

1 sprig of fennel

1 sprig of thyme

1 bay leaf

1 strip of orange peel without pith

750g / 1 ½ lbs shell fish e.g. crab mussels, king prawns

2 litre / 3 ½ pints of boiling water

salt and pepper

2.5kg / 5 lbs of fish e.g. monk fish, sea bass etc.

4 pinches of saffron powder.

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large pan add the onions, leeks, chopped tomatoes and garlic.

Sauté over a low heat for 2-3 minutes until soft stirring from time to time.

Stir in the fennel. thyme, bay leaf and orange peel.

Add the shell fish, boiling water and some salt and pepper.

Turn up the heat and boil for about 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the fish continue cooking for 12 to 15 mins over a medium heat.

The fish should be opaque and tender but still firm.

When the fish is cooked adjust the seasoning.

Stir in the powdered saffron and serve immediately.

Try Bouillabaisse in the South of France  when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.

South West…for something a little rich

The emphasis in south-western France is on rich foods – more truffles, more Foie Gras and duck.

Confit de Canard

Confit de Canard

Ingredients:

[Serves 4-6]

What you’ll need is 4-6 duck portions, rub salt into them and leave in a shallow covered dish for 5-6 hours.

Put your oven on low, 150 C/gas mark 2.

Wipe off the salt with kitchen paper and place all the pieces in a flameproof dish quite tightly, slightly brown both sides of the duck pieces very slowly, this can take 15-20 minutes.

Now cover your duck with enough duck fat to cover completely, pop it in your preheated oven for up to 2 hours. Then leave it to cool.

You can keep your duck preserved like that for a few days.

Instructions:

The idea is to warm the duck portions, not to cook again. The best way we found is to pan fry.

Heat a frying pan without any oil, as you already have duck fat around your pieces of duck.

Place the portions skin down and leave on a medium heat, do not move the pieces until they are a little crispy, then turn and do the other side.

‘Voila’ it’s ready!!

Serve with a salad or Potate Saladaise with Haricots Verts.

Try Confit de Canard in the South West of France  when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.

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Six Nations Rugby: Get ready for Le Crunch

February 23, 2011 4:33 pm
posted by Sarah

It may be the Six Nations Championship, but right now, only two countries seem to matter in Rubgy Union [sorry Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy]. On Saturday 30 men will meet spine-shaking tackle to spine-shaking tackle, with their nation’s expectations heavy on their shoulders…

V

 

 

The Six Nations showdown

In the blue corner we have the French, who have dominated the Six Nations for the past ten years with five wins, three of which have been Grand Slams [when one team beats all five other sides]. In the white corner are the English, with the most titles in the history of the tournament and winners of the Rugby World Cup in 2003.

Both teams have won their first two matches, England with a close but comfortable performance defeating Wales 26-19, and a thorough thumping of Italy 59-13. And France with a confident win against Scotland 34-21 and a wobbly defeat of Ireland 25-22.

Despite their strong starts, England and France are both coming into the tournament after set backs: England with a very disappointing 2010 full of defeats, and France after their November pasting by Australia when they were booed off the Paris pitch by their own fans.

The bookmakers favour England who currently sit at the top of the tournament table on scored points difference, but France have the upper hand if you consider their consistent form in the Six Nations over the past decade.

But this Saturday isn’t just about one game. Whoever wins Le Crunch is then the favourite to win the entire Championship. Not to mention the winning momentum this could create going through to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand later this year.

Who’s playing in Le Crunch?

Our brief guide to the key personalities on either side of the pitch:

England:

 

Coach: Martin Johnson CBE

Regarded as one of the greatest ever locks to have played, Johnson captained England to victory in the 2003 World Cup and began coaching England in 2008.

 

 

Captain: Mike Tindall

Tindall was part of the winning England squad at the 2003 World Cup and is not afraid of tough tackles – he once suffered a punctured lung and tear to his liver while playing against Wales. Perhaps more daunting than Saturday’s game for Tindall is that he is to become part of the Royal Family when he marries Zara Phillips, granddaughter of HM Queen Elizabeth II, in July.

Jonny Wilkinson

Fly-half: Jonny Wilkinson

Famous for his lucky left foot, Jonny Wilkinson’s conversion kicks were instrumental in England’s World Cup win in 2003. He holds the highest tally of international points and the Rugby World Cup points record of 249. A succession of injuries have disrupted his recent career but if his performances as a substitute against Wales and Italy are anything to go by, he’s on his way back to form.

Fly-half: Toby Flood

According to the English press, Flood is the French team’s primary concern for the upcoming head-to-head. And as England’s play-maker-in-chief and goal kicker who hasn’t missed yet, it’s not hard to see why.

 

Wing: Chris Ashton

Ashton has hogged the English headlines with six of the 10 tries scored in England’s first two games. He needs just one more to break the individual record for tries scored in a single Six Nations campaign. But he’s faced criticism for his swallow dives when scoring, which run the risk of counting the try null and void if he drops the ball.

France:

Coach: Marc Lièvremont

Lièvremont retired from playing professional rugby union in 2002 and after coaching French club Dax took over the national team in 2007.

Captain: Thierry Dusautoir

As well as having a degree in chemical engineering, Dusautoir captained France to a famous victory over New Zealand in 2009. He took over the full-time captaincy of France in November 2009 and is famous for his hard and fast tackles.

Full back: Maxime Médard

Despite not playing for the French team in their grand slam Six Nations win in 2010, Medard has scored two tries in two games for the 2011 tournament, and with sideburns as distinctive as his play, he’s one to watch.

Lock: Sébastien Chabal

One of the most popular French sporting personalities, Chabal’s nickname is ‘the horse’ because of the similarity of his name to the French word ‘cheval’, and also his distinctive ponytail, full beard and ferocious tackling.

A guide to Rugby Union in France

Rugby was introduced into France by the British in the 1870s and in 1892 the first ever French championship took place between two of the first established clubs:  Racing Club de France and Stade Francais.

The elite French clubs compete in the professional domestic club league known as the Top 14. Rugby Union is traditionally more popular in the south, with 12 of the Top 14 clubs based in the southern half of France.

Here are some clubs to keep an eye out for:

ASM Clermont Auvergne

The current Top 14 Champions. Founded in 1911 they are also known by their former name of Montferrand. Located in Clermont-Ferrand, until last year the club had reached the French Championship final 11 times but had never won.

Accommodation in Saint Etienne

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How to celebrate Christmas like the French!

November 19, 2010 2:58 pm
posted by Rebecca

Speak to any of our Gallic cousins and you’ll be told that Christmas is a very different affair in France.  It’s all about the family and food.  Sound a little too much like Christmas à l’Anglaise?  Well there’s plenty more to drive home la difference.  Here’s our guide to how to celebrate Christmas like the French.

And if you need further convincing, book yourself a trip across the Channel for a truly Joyeux Noël.

  • Write To Santa

In France, Father Christmas is known as Père Noël or Papa Noël.  He isn’t big and plump and ruddy but a tall, slim chap.  In the east of the country he’s likely to be accompanied by Père Fouettard who keeps a tally of just who’s been naughty or nice, dolling out a spanking to those not deserving of gifts.

The French take Santa very seriously – a law was passed in 1962 decreeing that anyone writing to Père Noël must receive a reply.

The question of when to give presents is a potential hurdle to the uninitiated.   Most provinces in France celebrate Christmas day on 25th December, but in Eastern and Northern France the season begins on 6th December on La Fête de Saint Nicolas, when children receive small gifts and sweets. There are other regional variations, such as the Fête de Lumières in Lyons on 8th December.  Many adults don’t exchange gifts until New Year’s Eve or even New Year’s Day.

And rather than stockings hung by the fire, French children leave their sabots or shoes out on Christmas Eve (you’ve got to hope you’re a size 9 rather than 6!).


  • Deck The Halls

Despite laying claim to the invention of the Christmas tree – originating in Strasbourg in 1605 – the French don’t invest as much significance in the festively decorated fir as the Brits.  (If you do opt for a tree, don’t forget your tasteful red ribbons.)  And whilst mistletoe is often hung above the door for good luck, the main decorative focus is the crèche or the equivalent of our nativity scene.   Filled with wooden or clay figurines of santos or saints, the crèche features in many French homes and churches.  Living crèches are common, in the form of plays and puppet shows, and a tradition has grown up in the south of France for craftsmen to make the figures year round – legend tells that the moulds have been passed from generation to generation since the seventeenth century.  Don’t be surprised to see random characters such as local dignitaries, butchers, bakers and policemen.

  • Fatten Up The Turkey

Unlike in the UK where Christmas day dinner is the main event, in France the tradition is to celebrate le Réveillon (traditionally after midnight mass) on Christmas Eve.  Confusingly many French also mark le Réveillon on New Year’s Eve, often going out with friends or enjoying a variant of the Christmas menu at home.  If you’re planning on spending New Year in France it pays to book your preferred restaurant early if you want to usher in the New Year with a meal out.

The menu various from region to region, but common attributes will be special-occasion foods served over multiple courses.   Typical dishes include:

  • Goose in Alsace
  • Turkey in Burgandy
  • Oysters and foie gras in Paris

To truly follow form the meal should include an aperitif such as Kir Royale, canapés, entree, a plat principal or main course (preferably stuffed with chestnuts), and dessert.  The is one course the French all agree on, the chocolate Yule log, or Buche de Noel (not to be confused with the actual Yule log which is made out of cherry wood and sprinkled with red wine to make it smell nice when burning).

Other festive culinary – or quaffing – highlights include Beaujolias Nouveau.  The new wine is re-released on the third Thursday of November and, never a wine to hang around, tradition holds that the entire stock has to be consumed by New Year.

It’s not all about the meal on Christmas Eve – La Galette des Rois is an almond cake baked to celebrate the Fête des Rois on January 6th, the twelfth day of Christmas.  The cake has a charm or toy crown inside and whoever finds it is dubbed King or Queen for the day.

  • Silent Night

Aaand relax.  Christmas Day in France is typically a quiet affair, time for the family to come together and relax.  Without the emphasis being all on the one day, December 25th is just one chapter in the yuletide celebrations.  Time to recharge before the big New Year event!

  • A French Carol – Un Chant de Noël Français

‘Vive le Vent’( Jingle Bells)

Vive le vent, vive le vent, vive le vent d’hiver

Qui s’en va, sifflant, soufflant

Dans les grands sapins verts, Oh !

Vive le temps, vive le temps, vive le temps d’hiver

Qui rappelle aux vieux enfants

Leurs souvenirs d’hier !

Sur le long chemin

Tout blanc de neige blanche

Un vieux monsieur s’avance

Avec sa canne dans la main

Et tout là-haut le vent

Qui siffle dans les branches

Lui souffle la romance qu’il chantait petit enfant

 

Christmas Holidays in FranceDo it Style!

  • Christmas in The Alps

5* Premium Les Crets in Meribel stands above the resort and enjoys uninterrupted views over the Tueda lake and the ski area. The building, in typical Savoie style, has undergone major renovation: apartments have been enlarged and redecorated in warm colours, and top-of-the-range furnishings and equipment installed.

Accommodation for 4 people sharing for one week starts at €1490 during the Christmas period.

  • Christmas accommodation in the Cote d’Azur

4* Pont Royal Holiday Resort offers small residences no taller than 2 floors with views of the lake, golf course or surrounding hills. The apartments are near shops and activities. The houses are on the edge of the village. Most of the Provencal farmhouses are on the edge of the golf course.

Accommodation for 4 people sharing for one week starts at €2373 during the Christmas period.

  • Christmas in Paris

Adagio Paris La Defense Le Parc, located in the Faubourg de l’Arche district, this new 12-storey architecturally modern residence with rounded lines offers conformable air-conditioned apartments, most of which open onto terraces or balconies. Facing a 1-hectare landscaped park, it is also close the shopping and business centre of La Défense.

Accommodation for 4 people sharing for one week starts at €1211 during the Christmas period.

Check the Pierre & Vacances website for it’s amazing  two nights for free Christmas ski offer!

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PV-Holidays: Top Ten Christmas Markets in Paris

November 2, 2009 2:02 pm
posted by Simon

As the yuletide season fast approaches, many shoppers dread their annual shopping trip for Christmas gifts.

If the thought of battling local crowds, struggling to find a parking space, and buying yet another pair of socks fills you with doom, a short break in France could be just the ticket to put the fun back into Christmas shopping.

Why not treat yourself to a weekend in Paris where you’ll find some of the best – and certainly most elegant – Christmas markets in Europe. At the beginning of December, the French capital welcomes a great selection of traditional-style chalets and tastefully decorated stalls across the city.

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The markets sell a variety of goods from crafts and trinkets to clothing and decorations, and are illuminated with twinkling fairy lights late into the evening.

Take advantage of cheap weekend break in Paris to do your Christmas shopping in style!

We’ve selected Ten Best Christmas Markets that Paris has to offer:

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1.Place Saint Sulpice
Dates: 9th-23rd December 2009
Address: Place Saint-Sulpice 75006 6eme, Paris.
Nearest Metro: Saint Sulpice

One of the busiest markets in the city is actually three fairs rolled into one grand event.The “Village de Noel”, which is a Christmas Village, opens for the entire month. The first fair sees the square transformed into an artist’s showcase, where 60 artists gather to display their work and sell their goods. Art works are produced from a range of materials, including wood, glass and textiles.

At the beginning of December, local groups and charities supporting the mentally handicapped sell their art and produce to visitors, which means you can buy presents and support a good cause. The reasonably priced hand-made cards are great buys and can be popped into the post on time after your return!

Lastly, the longest-running market of the month celebrates the 44th anniversary of the founding of Quebec. Scrumptious French-Canadian products will be readily available (make sure you try the maple syrup lollipops) alongside cultural events such as readings, music and dances.

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2.Marche Saint- Germain
Dates: December 4th-30th
Address: Place Saint- Germain Des Pres, 75006, 6eme, Paris.
Nearest Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Pres
Located in the bustling Latin Quarter, this market attracts big crowds with many English visitors making it their Winter port of call. Situated next to the L’Eglise Saint-Germain, it’s a traditional-style market, which sells local produce and hosts a range of seasonal activities. It’s also near many other tourist attractions, making it a dreamy detour on a weekend break to Paris. Specialties at this market include muelled wine and other home-made christmas snacks.

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3.Maison d’Alsace
Dates: November 28th- December 22nd and then December 26th-29th.
Address: 39, Avenue des Champs-Elysees, 75008.
8eme, Paris.
Nearest Metro: Etoile
The biggest Christmas market in France may be located in Strasbourg, but this collection of stalls is its smaller, less crowded twin. It’s known for selling plenty of French and German produce, such as pain d’epices and vin chaud. These are sold alongside retro wooden toys and handmade tree decorations. The most magical feature of all, however, is a giant (700 square metre) advent calendar, counting down the days until Santa’s annual visit.

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4. La Defense
Dates: November 25th- December 27th
Address: Central
Nearest Metro: La Defense.
This may be out on the outskirts, but is very accessible and is not only one of the biggest, but also one of the more established Parisian Christmas markets. Whilst its skyscraper backdrop may lack some of the Christmassy charm that the smaller markets may possess, it makes up for this with a vast amount of fairy lights and decorations. Best to go in the evenings, when everything is switched on and the crowds have separated. If shopping amongst the stalls gets too much, a quick skate on the resident ice rink may help you get back into the mood. Make sure you grab a cup of steaming hot chocolate from one of the stalls after your skating session!

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5. La Maison du Limousin
Dates: December 6th- December 20th
Address: 39 Avenue Des Champs-Elysees, 75008, 8eme, Paris.
Nearest Metro: Havre Caumartin

The Marche de Noel Limousin is a haven for creative types who love nothing more than giving kitsch presents. Stocking up on regional honeys, chocolates, jams, bonbons, liquors and other local products such as the famous Limoges porcelain, will ensure satisfied smiles all round from your family when opening your presents on Christmas morning.

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6. Les Feeries d’auteuil
Dates: December 5th-20th
Address: 40 Rue La Fontaine 7501
Nearest Metro: Jasmin

A perfect haven for yummy mummies to escape to before the Christmas rush, this particular market plays host to some incredibly glam stalls selling a range of high quality products including foie gras, champagne and chocolates alongside upmarket tree decorations, jewellery and other gifts. Organised by a charity called Fondation d’Auteuil, the market also draws crowds who are eager to see its yearly nativity display, which depicts five scenes from the story. Take a break, grab a bite and join other shoppers for coffee in the market’s onsite bistro.

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7.Les Halles
Dates: Throughout December
Address: 101 Porte Berger, 75045 Paris Cedex 01
Nearest Metro: Les Halles and Châtelet
The market of choice for shoppers who wish to “go native” during their splurge, this is the place to rub shoulders with the locals. Parisians love it! As expected, there’s lots of haggling to be had over tr
aditional meats, bread and cheeses. Once you’ve marveled at the food, browse the traditional stalls selling handmade chocolates, unusual art and a range of craft items.

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8. Gare D’est
Dates: November 28th-December 12th
Address: 10th arrondissement, Paris
Nearest Metro: Gare d’est

This is a great market to drop into as you make your way to Gare de la Nord at the end of your short break in Paris. It may not be the most iconic or traditional of markets but stalls have a range of French specialities, making you the most cultured Santa of the season.

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9. Montparnasse
Dates: December 1st-31st
Address: Centre commercial, Maine-Montparnasse, Paris, 15eme
Nearest Metro: Maine-Montparnasse

This is the foodie market of choice. Prepare to have your senses bombarded with a huge dose of the Christmas magic, and an overwhelming choice of gastronomic delights. This is the place to head if you are the type of person to savour your Christmas dinner more than most on the big day. Tuck into delicatessen, sniff smelly cheeses, salivate over eye-watering cakes, and sample an array of delicious wines to buy and feast upon around the table once you are home.

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10. Disneyland Paris Christmas Market
Dates: December 11th- January 5th 2010
Address: Disneyland Resort
By RER: line A – Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station.

Not many venues can “do” Christmas as well as The Happiest Place on Earth™, which offers a magical experience for little ones, and there’s a great Christmas market onsite to preoccupy the grown-ups, too. Taking place in the Disney village, a thousand fairy lights hover above the endless stalls and chalets. Plenty of tasty treats are available to eat whilst you are there, or can be saved to pass around at home. To complete the Christmassy atmosphere, introduce the kids to the resident elves, musicians, the giant toy brigade and Astrobulles- performers who are housed in luminous spheres.

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PV Holidays have 12 apartments in Paris, which are perfect for a short weekend or Christmas break. They are also great for overnight stays and perfect to drop your shopping bags in and collapse onto the comfy beds and sofas after an eventful day trip.

Choose from a wide selection of affordable apartments and studios with their own bathroom, kitchens and diners. Many boast great views and easy access to the city, and to the Christmas markets.

Visit the Paris Apartments section of the PV-Holidays website for more information.

HOT OFFERSave up to 30% on your holiday or business accommodation in Paris when you book up to 3 nights in any of our residences listed below. Prices start from only €60 per person per night. Visit our special offer page to find out more information.
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Pierre & Vacances: Montmartre Wine Festival 2009

September 29, 2009 4:23 pm
posted by Simon

7th-11th October 2009

It’s not difficult to come up with an excuse to spend a lazy weekend hanging out in Montmartre. Paris’s enduringly romantic artist’s quarter has a year- round appeal but few weekends are as decadent as the annual wine harvest festival in October.

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Yes, wine! The area best known for its cafes and galleries is also home to the city’s only wine growing area. Over 2000 vines thrive in the enclosure between rue Saint-Vincent and rue des Saules, and every year the locals celebrate the arrival of the Clos Montmartre wines with a suitably large party.

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This year’s wine weekend takes place on the 7th-11th October 2009. It’s hardly surprising that a wine festival in the capital offers more than just wine tastings and parades. The packed programme of events features cultural performances, variety shows, banquets and balls, as well as the opportunity to guzzle the fruits of the vine.

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The streets of Montmatre become awash with stalls piled with wines – the labels are designed by local artists – and regional produce. There’s live music and street performances on the Saturday, and concerts and poetry readings take place on Montmartre Hill.

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And if all that sounds a bit too high-brow, panic not. The main festival parade is dedicated to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. Simple follow the flush-faced local producers who march through the streets brandishing the blue and yellow banner of the République de Montmartre, picking up singing supporters and tourists en route. Don’t forget to watch the election of the festivals “Harvest Queen”, too!

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Pierre & Vacances have 13 Adagio properties in Paris. For current availability and booking, visit their Paris page on www.pv-holidays.com

You can grab up to 30% discount on your holiday or business accommodation in Paris when you book up to 3 nights or more with Pierre & Vacances. Apartments start from only €60 per person, per night. Find out how you could get a discounted stay on your weekend break in Paris by visiting the Pierre & Vacances offer page

Have you ever been to the Montmartre Wine festival? Or are you visiting the Montmartre Wine Festival 2009? Let us know how you got on!

Thanks for reading,
Pierre & Vacances

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