Dreaming of a French Christmas

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St Lizier

Christmas tends to represent a very definite deadline in the property market; sellers want to know that they have sold and can move on in the New Year and buyers want to have completed and preferably be in their new home for Christmas. By mid December, property hunters have other things on their mind (and over-stretched bank accounts) and sellers have usually decided to wait until the New Year to market their properties. As for agents and Notaires, well they generally go into hibernation in December.

The majority of my clients this year (save those currently going through the offer or completion stages) are now the proud owners of their own home in France which means that their Christmas will have a French theme, lucky them. Christmas here in the foothills of France, to my mind, encompasses all the things that are really important about Christmas while shrugging off (in a very gallic manner) all the worst elements.

The focus in our part of France is on family, food and, because we are lucky enough to be within striking distance of the mountains, snow. In the UK the build up to Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier whereas here, Christmas decorations are only just going up. Of course there is all the usual Christmas fanfare in the shops but there is just not the hype nor the stress here that there is in many places. Most people (us included) will do the majority of their food shopping at one of the many fantastic local markets in the few days before Christmas, all of which will be fresh, locally grown and predominantly organic.

The Christmas meal usually consists of oysters, smoked salmon and foie gras followed by either turkey or, more usually capon, salad, cheese and then the Buche de Noël, the traditional French log. And no shops or restaurants are open on Christmas day because Christmas is, above all, a family celebration here so nobody is expected to work and the majority of people will be spending the day en famille.

Usually the weather at this time of year in South West France is glorious with cold frosty mornings, blue sky, sunny, warm days and chilly evenings that are best spent in front of the fire. And thanks to our privileged location, we know that we will always have a white Christmas because on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day we can drive up into the mountains for some sledging, skiing or snow-shoeing, picnics and mulled wine. Now that’s what I call a proper Christmas.

Wishing you all a wonderful and very bonnes fêtes, a very happy New Year and may all your property dreams come true.

Skiing yesterday in the Pyrenees

Skiing yesterday in the Pyrenees

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