Monday, January 9, 2017

Meilleurs vœux, bonne année et bonne santé

French VIllage Diaries Voeux du Maire
Vœux du Maire

“Meilleurs vœux, bonne année et bonne santé” are words you hear a lot of in France at the beginning of the year. Neighbours, friends, work colleagues and everyone you meet will give you their best wishes for the coming year and especially for your good health. Yesterday we had the last of our village festive celebrations; the Maire’s New Year Wishes (Vœux du Maire) accompanied by tasty treats and aperitifs, but our festivities started quite a while ago. As a village councillor I feel honoured to have been involved in shopping, serving, decorating and eating.

French Village Diaries children's Christmas party
With Père Noel at the children's party
Our small village is rather unusual, but lucky, to boast a healthy number of families with children so we always hold a party just before Christmas, with gifts from Père Noel, for all children aged ten and under. With hot chocolate, mini viennoiseries and music; a fun afternoon is had by all, including Ed and I.

French Village Diaries shopping with Père Noel
Shopping with Père Noel
This year we contacted Père Noel in November to inform him of the names and ages of the 38 under elevens (just in case he needed a reminder) and he arranged a date to meet us somewhere special and top secret to decide what gifts would be suitable. 

French Village Diaries shopping with Père Noel
Stacking the gifts
Together with a local toy expert, who we will call Chief Elf, we made our way down the list starting with boys aged ten and finishing up in the baby section. Père Noel (dressed down to ensure he wasn’t recognised) had brought his modern sleigh and it wasn’t long before it was stacked high with boxes, big and small and of every different colour. 

French Village Diaries shopping with Père Noel
The arrival of the parcels

These were then wrapped by the elves and delivered just before Père Noel arrived at our party.

French Village Diaries Christmas meal foie gras
Foie gras starter

As well as the children’s party, we also have a bit of a ‘do’ for those aged over seventy. At the beginning of December, they were invited to the salle des fêtes where the councillors served them a five-course meal that we all enjoyed together. 

French Village Diaries Christmas meal fish terrine
Fish terrine

I remember both my Nans having bird-like appetites and always choosing small portions and light meals. Not so French Mamies, they have no trouble in putting away a starter of foie gras, a fish terrine, a stuffed quail main course, cheese and dessert, all washed down with a kir, two different white wines, a red wine and a digestif of Cognac. 

French Village Diaries Christmas meal buche de noel
Dessert

I could barely move afterwards and I didn’t even drink any alcohol with my meal, but it was a lovely afternoon with lots of chatter and fun.

French Village Diaries Christmas decorations
Village decorations

With the sun shining in mid December, it was good to get out in the fresh air and help to put up the village decorations. Last year we had a little working party that made our unique wooden trees (see here) and it was lovely to put them out again this year and decorate the village. Our sewing group has also added to the decorations making a Joyeuses Fêtes banner for the salle des fêtes and some bunting for the square.

French Village Diaries Choucroute meal
Choucroute meal

I was treated to another feast of a meal last Friday when the councillors and commune staff got together to thank everyone for another year of work and commitment to village life. We enjoyed a choucroute meal, which with sausages, pork and ham has to be one of the meatiest dishes known to man.

French Village Diaries Choucroute meal
Choucroute - can you see the cabbage hiding under the meat?

Portions were so generous we all came home with doggy bags, and although I’ve made an Alsace themed pizza I still have enough food to keep me going well into the week.


All that is left now is to take down the wooden trees and pack our village Christmas away, but this being France the salle des fêtes will stay busy and shared meals will continue throughout the year.

I do hope that wherever you live in the world, your community also knows how to hold a celebration. Bonne année et bonne santé to you all.

This post has been linked to Paulita's #DreamingofFrance blog link up. See here for more posts.