Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 2007

December 15, 2007

Happy Holidays Joyeux Noël

Christmas approaches, each day passing faster than the last. It is amazing why this holiday appears to sneak up on us, since the commercial places have been telling us about it since the end of October. Maybe since the decorations and advertisements start so early now (even here in France), we get immune and try to ignore the whole thing.

The American Christmas has slowly come to France. Houses now put up outside lights, even to the extent of some of the American houses (remember Chevy Chase and the Griswolds). Some villages now have house decoration contest. The crèche used to be and still is the preferred decoration in France, usually indoors. However those ambitious outdoor decorators have placed the crèche and Pere Noël together.

Maybe it is the lack of snow too that throws me completely off. From my Minnesota roots, Christmas meant snow on the ground. Up until this week we have had rather warm weather (high 40’s to low 50’s). The grass is still green; a rose bud is still trying to open. The sun is out now, but the temperatures are colder this week. The birdbath had some ice on it this morning. Will Mrs. Merle (european blackbird related to the american robin) try to take her bath today?, probably not.

I am going into Dijon today with Marie Therese. We are going to see the decorations and the Marché de Noël (Christmas Market). Have to see if I find anything.

December 20th

We went into Dijon on Saturday and I have never seen so many people on the streets of Dijon. It was one mass crowd of people. INCREDIBLE. Looking down the long stretch of Rue de Liberty, it was a carpet of moving people. The street was closed to motor traffic, so the sidewalks and street were completely covered with people! At the end of Rue Liberty, on the Place de Liberty, in front of the Ducal Palace, the Marché de Noël has been set up. There were a couple of booths that sold Russian things (amber jewelry, dolls, scarves...), a person who sold hand made knives, candles, food, pillows, silk scarves, Christmas ornaments, perfume, Santons (traditional crèche characters, animals from Province),and the list of things to sell within the booths goes on.

Christmas Stalls

Ducal Palace

At this time of year there are carolers walking around downtown singing. This year they are in red costumes. They do get your attention when walking down the street. Everything is decorated in the holiday spirit in town center: stores have put up decorations, and the city has gone all out too- there are green trees or flocked trees on the sidewalks and hanging lights all around and the atmosphere is truly festive. However, for me the crowds made it a little too much. I went back on a weekday and it was much, much better.

This week has been cold, very cold. Almost Minnesota cold, well not quite. It has been down to 20 degrees. The last two days we have had a very heavy frost, so although we have not had snow, everything is very white.

You look out and see the fog and the wonderful transformation of the vineyards covered with frost. Magical to see. I stand at the window and gaze out. No wind, so it is very quiet. Ah no snow, but alas a White Christmas after all.

Last Friday night we went to a chorale concert. It was the group I used to sing with, when I sang. It was a very good concert, and we enjoyed it completely. Pam had added "Jingle Bells", in english and a very fun arrangement. And of course, lots of old traditional songs, some in french and some in english. We were in the small church of Noiron-sous-Gevrey, it was a little cold, although the church did have heat! Those old stone churches do not heat up easily. We were invited to sing along to White Christmas (Noel Blanche), however it was in french.

We will be going over to our good friends for Christmas dinner, Marie Therese and her family. It will be a nice Christmas afternoon with fine wine, good food and close friends.

I will end here to today, more to write but I will save it for January or I will never get this out on the web.

Recipe this month

Vin Chaud (mulled wine)


  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine (vin rouge sec)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar (or honey)..add to your taste (sucre ou miel)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cannelle moulin)

  • 1 orange cut into slices (orange coupées en rondelles)

  • 1 lemon cut into slices (citron coupées en rondelles)

  • 6 whole cloves (girofles)

  • 4 cinnamon sticks (batons de cannelle)


    In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, combine wine, sugar and cinnamon and fruit. Heat on low heat for about 20 minutes or so until steaming. Careful not to let it boil. Good idea to warm your glasses with warm water before serving.