Christmas in the South of France

Christmas choux. A Californian in Paris.

Choux (cabbagage) decorated with glitter for that Christmas feeling!

Petit Copain’s parents were very kind to invite me again to celebrate Christmas at their home. Nestled in the hills of Cassis, going to Petit Copain’s home is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Plus, the air is much more fresh here! Petite Copain and I have gone on a couple adventures between Marseille and Cassis, so I might switch back and forth in this post!

Cheese in Cassis, France. A Californian in Paris.

The weekly farmer’s market in Cassis was open yesterday and I got to swing by. It’s a small market but during spring and summer, it is loaded with amazing stalls that sell soaps, lavender, baskets, herbs, towels, and fresh fruits and vegetables from Provence. If you’re ever here in the South of France, you should also try the Aix-en-Provence markets.

Cassis market. A Californian in Paris.

Panettone in Cassis, France. A Californian in Paris.

Fouta towels at the Cassis market. A Californian in Paris.

I am obsessed with these beautiful fouta towels. You can usually buy them in Paris during the summer, but you’ll find better deals if you head down south. They are for sitting on the beach or wrapping yourself when a summer evening gets a little chilly.

A colorful house in Cassis, France. A Californian in Paris.

What’s great about the South of France is that you’ll find lots of colorful houses with contrasting shutters. A big break from the forever blues and greys of Paris.

 

Saints around Cassis, France. A Californian in Paris.

You’ll also find many hidden altars or alcoves where old patron saints protect homes and inhabitants.

Christmas in Marseille. A Californian in Paris.

We also got to go to the Santons market, a little groups of stalls selling figurines for La Crèche de Noel, which is a nativity scene that includes provençal characters. It’s a huge tradition in the South of France and families really take their crèche seriously.

Santons Market in Marseille. A Californian in Paris.

Santons Market in Marseille. A Californian in Paris.

marseille-santons

The figurines are so detailed, you’ll have every part of classic provençal life, including free range chickens and other ones caged and waiting to be sold at market. On the other hand, you’ll also have the classic biblical figurines, including elephants and camels.

marseille-santons-3

La Crèche in Cassis, France. A Californian in Paris.

Here is an example of a crèche at the home of Petit Copain’s parents. They have a very beautiful one, complete with a river. Petit Copain bought them the boat figurine at the Marseille Santons Market. It fits right in!

Sleeping boy in a crèche. A Californian in Paris.

Another figurine we got them from Italy, the sleeping boy.

The happy man in a crèche. A Californian in Paris.

Here is the happy man, a very important provençal figurine in the crèche.

La Crèche in Cassis, France. A Californian in Paris.

Jesus is not born yet. A Californian in Paris.

In the traditional crèche, you don’t place baby Jesus until he’s “born”, that is, the day of Christmas.

Clementines for Christmas. A Californian in Paris.

Petit Copain and I picked many clementines for tonight!

As you can tell, I’m writing this post very fast as we are about to celebrate the big Christmas Eve meal. Before I go, I’ll show some of the preparations we’ve done for the big night! For my family in the U.S., we only make a big celebration on the day of Christmas and not so much on Christmas Eve. It’s nice to celebrate both ways.

Prepping decorations. A Californian in Paris.

Glasses for Christmas. A Californian in Paris.

Potimarron Soup. A Californian in Paris.

Potimarron Soup. A Californian in Paris.

This version of potimarron soup is very different from mine! The squash is boiled with onions and chestnuts, then puréed with crème fraiche.

A gingerbread house in France. A Californian in Paris.

 

 

The only other American thing I brought besides myself! I needed to share a little bit of my home with everyone. You can’t go wrong with a Gingerbread house 🙂

Well that’s all I have for tonight. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas from all of us in France!

 

 

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