New Year’s Eve traditions in France on the 31st of December popularly called  ‘la Saint-Sylvestre’ mark the last day of the Gregorian calendar and are generally celebrated with friends, being fonder of this festival than perhaps any other in the year. Great wine, great food  and plenty of ooh-la-la dishes welcomes New Year with special five, six or seven course dinners organized called the ‘le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre’. Bottles and bottles of wines are uncorked (a great chance to rummage through your wine cellar to find a few old treasures)  to go alongside those Saumur sparklers of blanc, rosé, rouge and the luscious Coteaux du Saumur, paired with Foi Gras and Rochefort fromage.

In the Loire Valley it’s the time for a popular drink called ‘Soup Angevin’ which is not soup at all but a fabulous cocktail – recipe below if you want to try it some time.

  • 1 bottle of Crémant de la Loire
  • 1 ladle of juice lemon
  • 1 ladle of syrup of sugar cane
  • 1 ladle of eau de vie from oranges (Combiers triple sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
  • :……. and then enjoy!!

In village Salle de Fetes everywhere, there are gourmet gala dinners with orchestras and parties finishing in the early hours of the morning with Onion Soup around 5am if you can keep awake that long!  Of course Le Puy Notre Dame village is no exception with its particular joie de vivre!  We did go to one of these fetes when we first arrived in Le Puy Notre Dame and sorry to say could not keep up with the amount of eating or wine ?!!  I know it sounds odd but have you any idea how much is consumed in a wine village?  Once the bottles are finished away departs a local vigneron and a barrel or two suddenly appear from nowhere!  As for staying awake and still drinking and dancing at 5.00am, well you can imagine the effects of that – think it took a week to recover!!

Also the traditional way of midnight grape picking also marks the celebrations of New Year in France. It is believed that 12 grapes signifying the 12 months of the year are eaten at midnight on the New Year’s eve to bring in good luck and prosperity to the house. The ‘le Jour de l’An’, or the New Year day is welcomed by formulating new resolutions and bidding farewell to the old year.

And then on 6th of January this is the customary cake cutting ceremony of the le ‘Galette des rois’.

Gallete de Rois

Galete des rois (otherwise known as King cake because a King’s crown sits on the top). In Paris and the Loire Valley  la Galette is made from puff pastry or brioche. It’s filled with frangipane, which is a mixture of almond paste and pastry cream. This day marks the end of holidays and New Year celebrations.

The history of the date 6th january was set by Pope Julius II as the official date for the l’Epiphanie which refers to the twelfth night after the birth of Jesus, the night when the three kings – gaspard, balthazar and melchior – paid tribute to the newborn Christ. the king cake is named for these three kings.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to share aperitifs with family and friends.  Sylvie and Franck our boulangers in Le Puy will be preparing these delicious Galettes for everyone, having to open seven days a week by law to provide this cake for the village!  We are actually starting early this year on the 1st January, visiting our friends in Montreuil Bellay on New Year’s Day where we shall probably have several Galettes with different fillings ranging from frangipan to raspberry to chocolate to pomme (sounds rather like a wine tasting) unlike though after the second piece one doesn’t feel inebriated as one does after the second or third glass of wine!  Last year they even threw in another dessert of Millefeuille aux Poires at the end just for good luck! Mon dieu!  Inside the cake there is a little fevre (a charm) and whoever gets this in their slice of cake then wears the King’s crown and hosts another Galette ceremony at their house.  Very convivial and this tradition lasts for the whole month of January (not sure about the affects on the waistline following on after la Buche du Noel, although we always seem to get over it)!

Our clocks are turning midnight and the big old church bell in the village is ringing in the beginning of a New Year.  We can’t wait to see what 2013 brings …….. let’s hope that it sparkles for us all!

Thank you for sharing our “Living in the Loire” blogs this year and we hope you will enjoy future blogs in the new year just as much.

We would like to say to all our guests old and new who have stayed with us, family and friends who have been a special part of our lives this year through our ups and downs, a big, big thankyou to all of you for your support, friendship, sincerity and inspiration given so freely, it has been appreciated.  The best part we enjoy about living in France and  operating our gite/chambre d’hote accommodation and wine tours, is the people who we meet and connect with along the way, in fact, not only from France, England, Belgium and Holland, but from all over the world:- Australia, America, Canada, Thailand and New Zealand, who all leave their mark on our experience and heart forever – you are never forgotton!

Looking forward to a great ninth season at Le Clos des Guyons and more of those shared moments and new friendships!

Andrew et Melissa from Australia

Andrew and Melissa. Our first guests of  2013, from Melbourne, Australia

Here is a picture of our  first guests of 2013!  Andrew and Melissa, from Victoria in Australia, starting their New Year holiday in Le Puy Notre Dame sharing a few glasses of wine including chilled Ackerman’s X-Noir sparkling Rosé from Saumur to help bring in the New Year! What a great start!

a Trés Bonnes Fetes de fin d’Annee and  “BONJOUR 2013” 

Let’s welcome the beginning of a New Year!

A votre a tous!

Sheila and Brian

Vacation Lets and Loire Wine Tours



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