Christmas is coming and even your South of France surveyor is looking forward to getting stuck in with all the fun and festivity this time of year entails.


If you have recently purchased a property in the South of France, you will no doubt be excited about the prospect of spending your first Christmas in your new home. You’ve dug out the box with all the decorations in, the tree is up, the wreath is in on the door and you think you’re ready to settle in for some Christmas cheer.


However, you want to make sure you’re up to speed on all the French holiday traditions, so grab a sherry and some cake, and read on for our ultimate guide to Christmas in the South of France.

#1 Etrennes

During the Christmas period, do not be alarmed if your local postman, firemen, rubbish collectors, your apartment building’s caretaker, or other public servant knocks on your door offering you a calendar to purchase. It’s traditional in France for public service employees to receive a tip of cash or a small gift at this time of year in thanks for their hard work.


This tradition dates back to the Romans who believed the goddess of the New Year, purity and wellbeing, Strenua would give good fortune in the coming year as a reward for such generosity.

#2 Office Parties

Those used to the debauched and often regrettable work Christmas parties thrown in the UK will find the French equivalent a bit of a culture shock.


Office parties in France tend to far more civilised affairs, involving dinner, wine, and dancing, rather than Jager-bombs and disciplinary procedures. So, be sure to take your lead from your French colleagues when it comes to what’s expected of the evening.

#3 Carol Singers

You may be excited or saddened to learn that the tradition of packs of children going door to door and singing a poorly harmonised Silent Night or two, in exchange for a few coins or sweet treats, doesn’t exist in France.


Likewise, the traditions of exchanging Christmas cards and pulling Christmas crackers (despite them being invented by a Frenchman) don’t really exist in France either.

#4 Television

The Christmas television schedule is a big deal in the UK as well you know. Most of us of a certain age will remember grabbing the Christmas TV guide (they used to be printed of sheets of dried wood pulp and bound in something called a magazine) as soon as it was released and putting a ring round the shows and movies we wanted to see.


Unfortunately, while the French offer some of the best culture in the world, the television is less exciting. Those of you looking forward to an equivalent of the Doctor Who Christmas special, or a festive edition of your favourite soaps are likely to be disappointed.


Time to dust off the Monopoly set (French edition of course).

#5 Christmas Eve

Last, but not least, we have the big one – most French households have their big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve as opposed to Christmas Day.


The meal is known as Réveillon and is traditionally eaten after families return from midnight mass on Christmas Eve (so technically very early on Christmas morning). It begins with oysters and pâté, followed by turkey with chestnut stuffing, and a yule log for dessert. Cheese and other meats such as lobster, venison, or goose are often served as well.


Just make sure you’ve got some antacid on hand for bedtime.

Merry Christmas

Whether you are celebrating in the UK or France, we wish you a very merry holiday season and a happy new year.


If you’re looking to celebrate with a great new French property, then South of France surveyor, Charles Mackintosh has the knowledge and experience to make you dreams come true.


Please get in touch for more information.