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Fun & Festivities in France

Here's a short guide for getting out and enjoying everything that life has to offer in France. Whilst things may be done a little differently across the Channel, there's not that much of a cultural clash for certain festive events.

Take, for instance, the celebration of the Christmas period. Instead of Santa Claus visiting and stuffing presents into Christmas stockings, traditionally French children leave their shoes beneath the Christmas tree and Père Noël comes by to visit at midnight on the night of the 24th. The night that we in England know of as Christmas Eve is called le Réveillon in France, and it's marked by an enormous evening of feasting on oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, roasted meats and a bûche de Noël (Yule Log) that's all washed down with plenty of champagne! French Christmas also comes equipped with Christmas crackers, but the fun doesn't end in December. Carrying the festive season well into the New Year, the French celebrate the Epiphany with a galette des rois (Kings' Cake), which is a seasonal dessert made from puff pastry and a frangipane filling of almond cream, sugar, butter and eggs. Hidden within each cake is a tiny porcelain fève which everyone vies to find in their slice. If you're making a galette des rois at home, unique and decorative fèves can be purchased from party supplies stores, although it might be easier to pick up a pre-made version of the delicacy from a bakery.

Speaking of parties, there's also similarities between the French and British way of celebrating an impending marriage. Nights out with the lads or ladies, accompanied by stag or hen night accessories, are commonplace for the grooms or brides-to-be. As summer approaches and the town halls and churches are full of young couples getting married, keep your eyes out for fancy dress bedazzled and glow in the dark bedecked hens out enjoying their last night of freedom!

Finally, when it comes to a patriotic outburst, you're most likely to see an abundance of French flags for a football or rugby match or tournament. Even local team events are a huge draw card, and crowds with matching scarves always give it away!

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