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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Christmas Fiesta

Like most of us, the French don’t like to be cold. So, when vines become grapeless skeletons,  terrace lunches are only for polar bear club members, and it’s dark by four thirty; those that can afford it head to the sun.  Typically, Morroco, Tunisia, or the French isles of Guadeloupe and Reunion.

The ones who can’t – The ones in those hilltop villages with no multiplex – No twenty-four seven supermarket – No videos-r-us; They eat. They drink. And they tell stories. Used to be,  in simpler times, they did that in the excited states.  The travelling storyteller was a respected and welcome guest. An “Oral Historian” who kept traditions,  heritage, and regional humor, alive and vibrant.


They still got ‘em here folks. Here’s how it works:  The regional cultural council sets up a series of “Contes” (story evenings) in villages throughout the area. These nights of food, wine and tall tales are hosted in the local community center. (Salle de Fete) For ten to twelve Euro, you get : A choice of two aperitifs; as the storyteller launches into round one.  As my “got the froggie tee-shirt” readers know – The French are not renowned for vegetarianism. Alors, Quelle surprise round two of “stories-be-us”,  is accompanied by a plate of cold cuts (“charcuterie”) along with wine number one. When this action winds down,  it’s time to circulate, commiserate, and appreciate an exhibition of local art.

The main course(usually chicken or lamb) arrives chaperoned by wine number two. Accompanied by – you guessed it – more stories!  Naturally, by this time, after one or more aperitifs, at least two glasses of wine and the grub, the assembled multitude are feeling no pain. And the story teller is feeling his oats. (And you thought this was a family evening. Silly you!) The story teller is now definitely on a roll. And tho’ his humor is past borderline risqué,  his double-entendres, register only on the adults. Then, just when you think these folks could’nt possibly be any happier, guess what? You’re right. Wine number three!

At this point, the locals are seriously inter-acting with the man-o-many-words. Exuberantly investing themselves in the narrative and the spirit of the evening. Something that’s difficult to do with the slasher movie from videos-r-us. Aware of the French passion for chocolate, cream, and all things diet-busting, I know your taste buds are spewing rivers of saliva as you imagine – what’s for dessert!? Black Forest Cake? Kirsch- soaked. Studded with cherries? An orange extravaganza with alternate layers of hazelnut crème and pear puree?

The classic Profiteroles? Dark chocolate rounds stuffed with lightly sweetened heavy cream? Hard cheese for you, dear reader. Tonight’s “piece de la resistance”, although a French dessert classic, contains no chocolate. No cream. No exotic puree. No candied fruit.  And – glorly gee to besus – no calories! 


 It’s a seasonal favourite. Served in a cone. Of warm newspaper. Does the phrase, “Chestnuts roasting on a open fire” ring any bells?


but not until sometime in 2011 – because after 52 posts in 8.5 months – DA  BG needs a little r ‘n r. Even it it was’nt Christmas!

MY  XMAS  WISH : Be good to yourself. Be better to each other.

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22 Responses to “French Christmas Fiesta”

  1. brad callent says:

    Yet another personal look at an aspect of French life that would otherwise remain a mystery. We remain, happily, in your debt.

  2. sandi ballistrie says:

    always a pleasure to read your posts…but this one is especially welcome. Like peter mayle, but on a different level, you have a knack for making the reader feel that he/she is experiencing the story. long may you scribble!

  3. calvin wong says:

    yet another personal look at an aspect of french life that would otherwise be unknown to we non “BG’s”

  4. deidre bennet says:

    i want to be you in my next life. Hopefully, i’ll return with more faith in human nature.

  5. sam hunnicut says:

    i’ve subscribed to your rss feed from the start – and have never ceased to be amazed at the richness of your adventures…and the way you share them with us. thanks for a great 8.5 months!

  6. beatrice revanet says:

    great story….but you did’nt say where you’re spending christmas!

  7. clement dozier says:

    good to know that there is some good regional cultural backlash to this internet age.happy chesnuts to you!

  8. angie patterson-white says:

    sounds like a great time……however i would have preferred the profiteroles as my happy ending!

  9. carson steiner says:

    what i like about your posts is you give us the info that isn’t in the guide books. keep it up! and hey, merry christmas!

  10. mavis hearn says:

    Your “backroads” style of reporting is the reason i wait for each new post.Have a great holiday!

  11. carl radley says:

    “A story-telling” Christmas……isn’t that what christmas should have more of?…….more stories and less seasonal sales hype?

  12. raven house says:

    why not chesnuts AND profiteroles?

  13. albert watson says:

    i think if more people passed their holidays this way, the world would be a better place.

  14. sandi posterman says:

    Nice to know that there are some people who are not affected by the massive onslaught of commercialism that the christmas season has become.

  15. gerry andrews says:

    ok – it all sounds great…but i’m wondering about how(and if) they drive home after all this?

  16. paul eversal says:

    responding to your reader who was wondering about drinking and driving after this celebration……i can tell you from my vist to france that the police there are very agressive with regard to this subject. frequent checks. heavy penalties.

  17. jack deveroe says:

    looking at your photo of all the meat…..hard to image there are vegetarians in France!

  18. paula dennis says:

    reading this post, it’s easy to see your attraction for france and it’s unique lifestyle. The reason also for our attraction to your adventures. merry christmas! and all the best for the new year!

  19. stanford avery-jones says:

    As much as we enjoy you posts, it’s good you remind us (however obliquely)of the time and energy require to create them. Enjoy your well deserved break!

  20. karen toustago says:

    Good to know there’s something “non-electronic” for all the family at Christmas!

  21. brian watson says:

    thanks for all your great posts.know it probably isn’t a piece of cake to have and share all your adventures……i really appreciate it……and i guess i’m not alone. Have a good rest!

  22. shelly parkinson says:

    sounds like a great way to spend christmas…except that i’m a vegan.

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