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Dec 14

A Christmas Carol in French

A Christmas Carol En Version Française

There are many famous stories about la période des fêtes (the holiday season). My personal favorite is Un chant de Noël (A Christmas Carol) by Charles Dickens. Although originally in English, Un chant de Noël can help your French!

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Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol, Title page, First edition 1843. Wikimedia Commons.

You will know how it can be useful to watch your favorite TV shows and movies either with les sous-titres français or doublées en français (dubbed in French). While it’s preferable to watch a movie or a TV show en VOST, being familiar with the characters and the story in your first language can help you stay engaged in another language.

The same idea works with les livres (books)!

If you have a favorite book in English, you can usually find it en version française.

Dans l’esprit de Noël (in the Christmas spirit), one such example is Un chant de Noël, a story that has been retold many times and in many different styles. My first memory of the story is la version de Disney (the Disney version) where Balthazar Picsou (Scrooge McDuck) plays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge and Dingo (Goofy) is le fantôme de Jacob Marley (the ghost of Jacob Marley).

The novella is most commonly known as Un chant de Noël in French, but it was also published under the names of Cantique de Noël, Chanson de Noël, and Conte de Noël. No matter the version It’s easy to recognise le thème général (the overarching theme):

Scrooge déteste Noël

« Foutaises ! » 

Bob Cratchit, le pauve employée de Scrooge

Le fantôme de Marley visite Scrooge et lui dit qu’il va être hanté par trois esprits

L’esprit des Noëls passés

L’esprit du Noéls présent

L’esprit des Noëls à venir

Scrooge se reveille, il aime Noël et il veut changer sa vie

Scrooge hates Christmas

“Bah! Humbug!”

Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s poor employee

The ghost of Marley visits Scrooge and tells him that he will be haunted by three spirits

The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Ghost of Christmas Present

The Ghost of Christmas Future

Scrooge wakes up, he loves Christmas, and he wants to change his life

If you’re looking to practice your French during the holidays, try reading le grand classique (the great classic) in French.

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Dec 13

Christmas for Père Fouettard

Santa’s Naughty Partner: Come Meet Père Fouettard!

He sees you when you’re sleeping

He knows when you’re awake

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake!

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Image courtesy of 'le blog marievie'.

Christmas tomorrow, so that means there are only 24 hours to right your wrongs from the past year to make sure you end up on Santa’s nice list.

In many countries, good little boys and girls wake up to presents under the tree and stockings filled with goodies. The rotten apples get a gift from the man in red, too, but it’s in the form of coal. What are you supposed to do with un morceau de charbon (a lump of coal)? Well, I suppose you could harness its energy  for electricity or apply enough energy to transform it into a diamond, but that’s for another blog.

While coal was on the lips of many American politics this past political season, it certainly was not on any kid’s wish list. And while bad kids in France also receive coal, they have another thing to worry about that anglophone kiddies get to avoid: Père Fouettard (Father Whipper)!

We all know the story of the Christmas patriarch Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra who was the inspiration behind Santa Claus. Nicholas came from a wealthy family and spent much of his life sharing his wealth with those less fortunate than he. Santa is a very nice man to the kids all around the world, but homeboy works alongside Father Whipper, who takes care of the naughty kids.

So what’s this punisher’s story? His first appearance dates back to the 12th century. A local innkeeper (in some variations, he’s a butcher) and his wife capture 3 wealthy children who were on their way to enrol in a religious boarding school. The couple rob the children, murder them, and cook them in a stew. Saint Nick was not happy and showed up at the innkeeper’s door. The innkeeper was transformed into Father Whipper and became an eternal partner with Saint Nick. Personally, I don’t see that as much of a punishment since the innkeeper continues to torture children, but I’m but a mere blogger.

On Saint Nicholas’s Day (le 6 décembre), Père Fouettard travels around and gifts coal and spankings. He’s pretty easy to recognise, too. Our cultures show Santa Claus the same way: a jolly fat man in a red suit with a big white beard. There are different representations of Father Whipper, but he’s easy to spot. Sometimes you’ll see him in dark robes carrying a bag with switches on his back. Other times, he’s wearing teh same suit as Santa, but it’s black. He has a darkened face from all the soot in the chimneys (and alas, sometimes, you’ll still see people playing him in blackface) and his beard is unkempt.

So you better be good whatever you do

cause if you’re bad, I’m warning you

you’ll get nothing* for Christmas

Alors, as-tu été sage cette année ?

So, were you good this year?

* = except coal and whippings

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Dec 12

O Christmas Tree In French

My Beautiful Fir Tree – O Christmas Tree In French

L’esprit des fêtes (the holiday spirit) is stronger than ever with Noël just around the corner. This festive time of the year is the perfect moment to add un chant de Noël français (a French Christmas carol) to your holiday playlist!

Les chants de Noël are a big part of the ambiance of the holiday season.

Les chansons (the songs) complete the scene of les chausettes de Noël (Christmas stockings) resting above la cheminée (the fireplace) with a pile of cadeaux (gifts, presents) waiting under the wonderful sapin de Noël (Christmas tree).

Le sapin de Noël is lucky enough to have its own chant de Noël:

Mon beau sapin - O Christmas Tree (literally: My Beautiful Fir Tree)

Christmas Scene

La chanson, like le calendrier d’Avent, is a holiday tradition that came from Germany. Mon beau sapin was originally called O Tannenbaum en allemand (in German) and translates to O Fir Tree. Ses origines (its origins) go back as far as 1550, but it’s the more modern version written by Ernst Anshütz in 1824 that became known all over the world.

Interestingly, la chanson did not specifically refer to Noël at first, but slowly became associated with the holiday with the rise in popularity of les sapins de Noël. By the 20th century it was a standard chant de Noël like Au Royaume du Bonhomme Hiver and was translated into many languages, including anglais et français (English and French).

In between opening presents and walks around les marchés de Noël, take a moment to learn ce chant de Noël français!

Voici Mon beau sapin avec les paroles et une traduction : 


Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts

Que j’aime ta verdure

Quand par l’hiver, bois et guérets

Sont dépouillés de leurs attraits

Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts

Tu gardes ta parure


My beautiful fir tree, king of the forests

How I love your greenness

When in winter, woods and fallow lands

Are stripped of their charm

My beautiful fir tree, king of the forests

You keep your decorations


Toi que Noël planta chez nous

Au saint Anniversaire

Joli sapin, comme ils sont doux,

Et tes bonbons, et tes joujoux

Toi que Noël planta chez nous

Tu répands la lumière.


You who put Christmas in our home

The holy birthday

Lovely pine, how pleasant they are

And your sweets, and your toys

You who put Christmas in our home

You spread the light.


Mon beau sapin, tes verts sommets

Et leur fidèle ombrage

De la foi qui ne ment jamais

De la constance et de la paix.

Mon beau sapin tes verts sommets

M’offrent la douce image.


And their faithful shade

Faith that never lies

Loyalty and peace

My beautiful fir tree, your green peaks

Give me that pleasant image.


Wishing You a Merry Christmas.

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Blog submitted by: David at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Dec 11

Festive season - So how do the French celebrate Christmas?

So how do the French celebrate Christmas?

In France, Christmas is a time for family and for generosity, marked by family reunions, gifts and chocolates for children, gifts for the poor, Midnight Mass, and le Réveillon.

We still arrange and meet with clients during December and over the holidays for property viewings in France, vendors still want to sell their house in France and you may have some time off work to visit France to look at some lovely French Houses BUT make sure you give us enough notice as it can be a busy period and of course most of our offices will have periods of closure over the festive period.

Christmas in France

The celebration of Christmas in France varies by region. As you would expect most regions celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, which is a bank holiday. However, in eastern and northern France, the Christmas season begins on 6 December, la fête de Saint Nicolas, and in some provinces la fête des Rois* is one the most important holidays of the Christmas season. In Lyon, 8 December is la Fête de lumières, when Lyonnais pay hommage to the virgin Mary by putting candles in their windows to light up the city.

*Epiphany (la fête des Rois) is usually celebrated the 6th of January, but in some places in France it is celebrated the first Sunday after January 1st.

French Christmas Traditions

French children put their shoes in front of the fireplace, in the hopes that Père Noël (aka Papa Noël) will fill them with gifts. Chocolate, fruit, nuts, and small toys will also be hung on the tree overnight. In some regions there's also Père Fouettard who gives out spankings to bad children (sort of the equivalent of Santa giving coal to the naughty). Pere Noel, like Santa, has a long, white beard, but wears a long, red robe that is trimmed with white fur and hooded. He is also portrayed as being thin, rather than fat.

AND shopping in France is as big an event as in the UK and eslewhere of course.

In 1962, a law was passed decreeing that all letters written to Santa would responded to with a postcard. When a class writes a letter, each student gets a response.

Le Réveillon

Reveillon is a huge traditional feast that takes place over the holiday season. It is eaten late at night, following Christmas Eve mass. What is served largely depends upon which area of the country you live in. This is probably one of the best reasons to visit France during Christmas. Although fewer and fewer French attend la Messe de Minuit on Christmas Eve, it is still an important part of Christmas for many families.

Le Réveillon is a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ's birth and is the culinary high point of the season, which may be enjoyed at home or in a restaurant or café that is open all night. Each region in France has its own traditional Christmas menu, with dishes like turkey, capon, goose, chicken, and boudin blanc (similar to white pudding). Examples of some the dishes served are oysters, pâté de foie gras, turkey, goose, salads, fruit, a Yule Log and, of course, wine.

Throughout the French Christmas season, there are special traditional desserts:

  • La bûche de Noël (Yule log) - A log-shaped cake made of chocolate and chestnuts. Representative of the special wood log burned from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day in the Périgord, which is a holdover from a pagan Gaul celebration.
  • Le pain calendeau (in southern France) - Christmas loaf, part of which is given to a poor person.
  • La Galette des Rois (on Epiphany) - round cake which is cut into pieces and distributed by a child, known as le petit roi or l'enfant soleil, hiding under the table. Whoever finds la fève - the charm hidden inside - is King or Queen and can choose a partner.

French Christmas Decorations

The sapin de Noël is the main decoration in homes, streets, shops, offices, and factories. The sapin de Noël appeared in Alsace in the 14th century, decorated with apples, paper flowers, and ribbons, and was introduced in France in 1837.

Another important aspect of French Christmas celebrations is the crèche filled with santons, which is displayed in churches and many homes. Living crèches in the form of plays and puppet shows based on the Nativity are commonly performed to teach the important ideas of Christianity and the Christmas celebration.

Mistletoe is hung above the door during the Christmas season to bring good fortune throughout the year.

After Réveillon, it's customary to leave a candle burning in case the Virgin Mary passes by.

Is that Carol singing?

Some traditional French Christmas carols include "Un Flambeau", "Petit Papa Noel", "La Marche des rois", "Venez Divin Messie", "Nouelle Agreable" and "C'est la jour de la Noel."

Blog submitted by: David at Cle France.

2 CommentsViews: 563
Dec 11

Christmas & Winter Traditions: Marché de Noel

One thing in common, that I love, about the various places I have lived in France over the years are the winter markets. They are smaller, larger, bigger and better in the varying regions of France but the one thing they all have is bundles of Christmas spirit and a sense of community, even though some of the stall holders travel the country to different markets; all the 'locals' visit the town square and share du vin chaud under des illuminations de Noel (Christmas lights).

If you are planning a viewing trip in December be sure to not only visit many nice french houses for sale, take time off and soak up the atmosphere at one of the local French winter markets.

Christmas Winter Markets in France

Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra on Flickr

In many pays européens (European countries) December brings les marchés de Noel (Christmas markets). These marchés are a special seasonal affaire that last all too short, but provide a nice traditional atmosphere right in the middle of town.

The tradition originally comes from l’Europe centrale (Central Europe), and as such, the most famous marchés de Noel se trouve en Alsace (are found in Alsace). But there are well known marchés all throughout France.

Dans un marché de Noel you can buy all kinds of jouets (toys) and other petits cadeaux (small gifts), or for those older kids in the crowd, du vin chaud (mulled wine). The traditional shops line the streets, creating an outdoor shopping experience, a real winter wonderland.

While enjoying du vin chaud under des illuminations de Noel (Christmas lights), you might even catch un spectacle (a performance) or two. All in all, se promener dans (taking a walk in) un marché de Noel is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

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Blog submitted by: David at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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