Christmas in the Loire

Dear Friends Near and Far,

How quickly Christmas comes round each year.

In France Christmas or ‘Noel’ is a time for the Family marked by Family Reunions.

Creche in Village Church

Creche in Village Church

In the Loire, our Churches and Cathedrals are packed for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve – at 9pm!!, (the French are very logical and realise that midnight would be much too late to eat so they still call it Midnight Mass but start at nine)! Most Churches display a beautiful crèche.  Anyone visiting France during Christmastime should make sure they see a crèche as it’s definitely a must-see as so much work goes into creating them.   A few days before Christmas the family sets up a nativity scene on a little platform in the corner of the living room and some families decorate a Christmas tree but the crèche is much more important.  After mass, families celebrate with the Reveillon (the waking), with an expansive late-night feast.  This festive table can include:- Mussels, lobster, foie gras, escargot, delicious canapés, chestnuts, poultry, salads, and desserts including the traditional ‘Buche de Noel’ (a log shaped cake) all washed down with sparkling wines! After the Reveillon it’s customary to leave a candle burning in case the Virgin Mary passes by.  Children put shoes in front of the fireplace in the hopes that Pere Noel (aka Father Christmas) or baby Jesus will fill them with gifts.

Last Sunday, we enjoyed a lovely long lunch with our good friends Jean Pierre, Claire and their son Aurelien, eating the last of our freshly picked tomatoes from the garden.  Incredibly our last tomato harvest was on the 17th December and here’s the picture to prove it!

Tomato harvest on 17th. Dec.

Tomato harvest on 17th. Dec.

We practiced our gastronomic Christmas lunch recipe of Venison, and afterwards sampled the first home made Buche de Noel which Claire had prepared – all washed down and enjoyed with some great wines!  A nice prelude to Noel when Brian and I are looking forward to receiving our guests at “Le Clos des Guyons” for a Xmas Break Special – and it’s such a good excuse for indulgence!

Jean-Pierre, Claire, Aurelien et Brian

Jean-Pierre, Claire, Aurelien et Brian

The village of Le Puy Notre Dame has been busy hanging sparkling lights around the tiny rues, there are Santa’s dangling from windows and chimneys, the crèche in the Church has been lovingly created by a dedicated group of ladies including our neighbours, Jeanette et Robert Guyon and the little bright star on top of the Eglise is already twinkling for everyone to see for miles around.  So, before I continue with our hectic Christmas preparations, I would like to share with you a Christmas greeting:-

Christmas is full of shiny things that sparkle, gleam and glow;
These holiday pleasures dazzle us and yet, deep down, we know…

That Christmas has its special gifts but our year-round joy depends
On the cherished people in our lives our family and our friends”. 

It has been a frantically busy year for us with our wonderful guests, many with whom we have formed treasured friendships and are more like family to us now, so Brian and I would really like to thank you all, along with friends old and new, for your continued and enthusiastic support. We look forward to enjoying good times and interesting conversations over a glass or two of wine in the seasons to come in 2012.

Relax, uncork that bottle of wine drink and be merry!

Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas, Peace, Joy and a Happy, Healthy and Blessed New Year!

Meilleurs Vœux et Bonne Année 2012!


from Sheila and Brian

Gites and Wine Tours in Loire Valley