French Christmas traditions versus British

French Christmas versus British Christmas

We have had our small apartment in France nearly ten years now.

We spend every alternate Christmas in France. If we are not in the UK on Christmas day we have a celebratory family lunch the weekend before we go. So we get to experience two Christmases and are able to observe the celebrations in the two countries.

Friends often ask me how the French celebrate Christmas. Do they have the same traditions or are they different? There are both similarities and differences. I thought you might like to hear about what we have observed about French versus British Christmases.

What I really noticed is that Christmas in France does not start until December whereas our shops are full of Christmas decorations as early as September. They do exchange presents; however, the emphasis in France is on getting together with family and friends and celebrating with an abundance of food and wine.

St. Michael's church Grimaud

On Christmas eve many French families attend the Masse de Minuit which is then followed by their big feast called “Le Réveillon”. The menu for this meal will consist of delicious seafood delicacies, normally oysters and large crevettes, along with the traditional Fois Gras. This will be followed by the traditional bûche de Noël (Yule log). On Christmas day the French will serve a capon ((a capon is a rooster; which makes the meat tender and the bird larger). However, turkeys are beginning to become popular as an alternative.

French Christmas versus British Christmas

In Britain, our main meal is served at lunchtime on Christmas day, when the traditional turkey, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy will be offered to our guests. Followed by our traditional Christmas pudding, mince pies served with either custard or brandy butter.

In the Uk children hang up their stockings by the fireplace waiting for Father Christmas to fill them whereas French children put out shoes for “père Noël”.

In general, I find that the Christmas holidays are more low key in France than in the UK. They don’t tend to send Christmas cards. They do, however, offer wishes of a “Joyeux Noel” to friends, neighbours and in every local shop you visit.

French Christmas versus British Christmas




  1. Lynne Savage
    23rd December 2017 / 13:06

    In australia we hope for a coolish christmas day. Commonly seafood either christmas eve or day and often as a picnic. Many still have a full on hot turkey roast dinner as we do in our house. I love hearing about your two cultures. Have a happy new year.

  2. Kari Vitaletti
    23rd December 2017 / 13:08

    Merry Christmas, Josephine. Thank you for sharing your journeys and style sense, I love your blog!

  3. Eleni
    23rd December 2017 / 13:49

    Dear Josephine, we are having a lovely snowy, cold Christmas in Toronto. The grandchildren are delighted.
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  4. Mary
    23rd December 2017 / 13:50

    A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your inspirational blogs and photographs.

  5. Judy
    23rd December 2017 / 13:56

    Have a wonderful time, Josephine, I look forward to next year’s posts. Thank you so much for writing on so many interesting topics – it’s always a joy to see “chicatanyage” pop up in my inbox!

  6. Anne
    23rd December 2017 / 14:23

    Merry Christmas and thank you for your inspiring blogs; I always look forward to them dropping into my email box. You look really chic and festive in this week’s Christmas photo!

  7. 23rd December 2017 / 14:37

    A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you too from Norway where the big day for Christmas is the evening of the 24th. Then we have a big family dinner, Santa Claus is coming and we give eachother gifts. The 25th and 26th are also mostly spent with family with large dinners and are days off from work.

    Christmas greetings from Ingrid at

  8. Afaf Sanders
    23rd December 2017 / 15:05

    Same to you Josephine. Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee. Thank you for the Fantastic topics for bring to us.

  9. Viv Butler
    23rd December 2017 / 15:07

    Joyeux Noel Josephine! Thank you for the lovely blogs, I especially enjoy your news on all things French ! Keep them coming. All the very best for 2018.

  10. 23rd December 2017 / 15:32

    Nice holiday post! I love it that your “other home” is in France!

  11. Rebecca
    23rd December 2017 / 17:10

    Thank you for this lovely post on the ways the French and British celebrate the holiday. In the US (I live in NYC) it seems like the marketing has become insane for shopping and starts in early October. I wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy holiday season and look forward to some wonderful posts from you in the New Year!

  12. Theresa
    23rd December 2017 / 17:42

    Hi Josephine
    I love all your interesting news and inspirational clothing advice. Do have a very peaceful & happy Christmas and may 2018 bring all you wish for and more!

  13. Sandra
    23rd December 2017 / 17:45

    Wishing you a Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee! Enjoy your time in France.

  14. Helen F. Newcomb
    23rd December 2017 / 17:50

    Merry Christmas and thank you for your blog!

  15. Wendy
    23rd December 2017 / 18:27

    Love reading about your experiences in France! Joyeux Noel!

  16. Wendy Barton
    23rd December 2017 / 19:18

    Lovely post. Happy Christmas! And thanks for all your posts throughout the year.

  17. Jeannine Athas
    23rd December 2017 / 21:48

    Wishing you, Josephine, and all your readers a fine 2018 – healthy, happy, fashionable or not but with senior wisdom yet energy!

  18. Debbie Hull
    23rd December 2017 / 23:35

    Hi Josephine ! That’s so interesting how france and the uk do christmas. I live in Michigan US and the holiday just seems to be about spending instead of the real reason for the season. Many families get together but the poor homeless don’t have it so good. Hope both of your holiday celebrations are wonderful for you. Happy new year too.

    • 24th December 2017 / 10:48

      I so agree Debbie. I did donate to two homeless charities in the UK before we left for France. One year when I was on my own I worked the Christmas week-end at a centre for the homeless. It was a very tough few days but it really opened my eyes to the plight of others,

  19. 24th December 2017 / 10:46

    Thank you all for your kind wishes and I am really glad that you like my blog. Your comments make all the hard work worth while. See you all again soon with news from St. Tropez.

  20. 26th December 2017 / 12:17

    What a lovely blog, Josephine. Makes me want to spend a future Christmas in France. And I think I will. 🙂

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2018. Thank you so much for your blog — it gives me much pleasure throughout the year. You do a wonderful job with it, and I appreciate your constancy.


  21. Kathleen Muddiman
    13th December 2020 / 17:10

    Such a small world! I teach French in an independant primary school in the UK & I was searching for good info on uk vs france for xmas and fell over your page, as im scrolling down I see the entrance the church we go to midnight mass back home! Et voila, you live in Grimaud!! so, I have now crawled all over your site, enjoying photos from home! We have a villa behind Gassin, but live now in the UK, we come back over every month, but this year has been difficult! We left living full time in france 4 years ago, its been interesting, but i long to retire and move back full time again!! lovely site, so nice to see home, what a surprise this was! Thank you

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