As the calendar edges ever closer to Christmas, have you experienced any of the following:
1. hope that the NHS will soon add mince pies and Christmas pudding to its ‘five a day’ list
2. eternal respect for anyone who knows how to cook the perfect turkey/sprouts/bread sauce
3. queasiness at the thought of starting the Search for the Perfect Present?
Well, dear readers, you don’t have to worry any longer about the final Christmas conundrum.
Have a look at these Christmas present ideas that’ll give your Christmas Day more Gallic charm than Jean Dujardin brooding at the camera against a backdrop of the Eiffel tower.
Maximum Frenchness guaranteed or your money back. With a Despicable Me-style pinkie promise.
Raclette is a Swiss hard cheese that’s normally melted on a mini grill before being served with potatoes, cold meats and pickles.
I remember on my gap year when friends of my host family invited us to a raclette dinner, and we each had plastic spatulas to place cheese slices on to heat under the raclette grill.
I got far too carried away by the meaty, cheesy feast in front of me and had a bit of a reputation after that as ‘la gourmande’ (‘the greedy one’) or ‘l’anglaise gourmande’ (‘the greedy English girl.’) Hmmm. Not my finest hour.
For things that you can actually eat, a bag of mendiants (milk or dark chocolate discs topped with candied fruit and nuts) are a stocking-filler that your loved one will be thanking you for… if you don’t beat them to it and eat them first!
Ditto a jar of Pierre Marcolini’s salted caramel spread. I still haven’t tried it yet (cue the sound of the world’s tiniest string orchestra playing in sympathy with my sorrow), but I’m determined 2017 will be the year that I finally manage to(!)
How about buying a scarf or Breton top for your chers et tendres if they love French fashion?
Or what about a voucher for Sephora (aka make-up mecca). I’ve heard whisperings on Google that they might open in London in the near future, but still no luck 😦
Luckily, this does mean that a trip to spend the voucher could be combined with a trip to France, so make the most of it before Sephora pops over the Channel to Britain!
Magazine subscriptions are also a great idea for a Christmas present – you can order print editions of French Vogue, Elle or Paris Match to be delivered for a monthly dose of French fashion (I can already hear the siren-call of white shirts, perfectly tied scarves, trenchcoats…)
And whether you’re hoping to transform your home into an oasis of Frenchness in Brisbane, Berlin or Birmingham, these cushions and art prints are lovely little reminders that, in a parallel universe, you’re reading Maupassant on a lavender-covered balcony somewhere in Provence….
For bookworms, I highly recommend Au Revoir Là-Haut or En Attendant Bojangles, which I review here and here. Or try out Chanson Douce, a thriller by Leila Slimani that’s been compared to Gone Girl and recently won the Goncourt prize in France.
If you’re interested in French and English non-fiction, try Emma Beddington’s brilliant memoir We’ll Always Have Paris, or Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba, which looks at the lives of Parisian women under the German Occupation of France during the Second World War.
Frenchie film buffs, rest assured – there are more than enough cinematic treats and TV series to keep you occupied not just for Christmas but for many years to come.
Le Boucher, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg and Jules et Jim are all classics, but if you’re looking for a more modern film, try Entre les Murs (read my short review here), Potiche or the Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf biopics Gainsbourg: vie héroïque and La Vie en Rose.
I only recently found about the crime series Engrenages (very late to the party, I know..), which is particularly good for anyone who’s enjoyed series like The Killing or Sherlock. Les Revenants, which was shown on Channel 4, is also fantastic – it’s similar to shows like Top of the Lake and The Walking Dead.
A night out at the theatre is also a good idea to have in mind. Olivia Ruiz, Michel Sardou and Renaud are all touring France over the next few months. If a night out in Paree is not on the cards, you can at least pretend you’re in Paris with this new London production of An American in Paris(!!)
As always, I love hearing from all of you – how are your plans for Christmas coming along? Are you on track with your Christmas preparations or, like me, slightly behind? Feel free to write in the comments box below this post or get in touch on Instagram 🙂
Joyeux Noël et bonne année à tous !