Feeling French in the New Year

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you all a happy & healthy 2018.

We had a calm and relaxing Christmas in the north of France with my in-laws. Of course I ate way too much, and had a few too many glasses of wine, but isn’t that what the holiday season is all about? And especially in France, where they go all out as far as holiday meals are concerned.

And I certainly learned that on New Year’s Eve. This was the first year that I cooked a meal (we had a small dinner party) and wow, if the supermarket wasn’t the busiest I’ve ever seen it. The Saturday before the big day, I ventured out with my shopping list and was amazed by the size of the crowds. And the food…  just wow. Additional tables (long ones) were brought in to host seafood platters, baskets heaped full of oysters, and rows of dried fruit & nut baskets. In the dairy case, I found at least 5 different cheese platters that were impossible to pass up (we opted for a goat-cheese selection).

Driving through Beaujolais on our way home from the north of France.

My aperitif (apéro) involved smoked salmon, and I literally had to twist and turn (& “pardon”) myself into the salmon case to get my hands on one of the remaining packages. It was craziness. But it was a fun & exciting kind of craziness. I really felt a part of the holiday excitement.

A few years ago my mother-in-law asked me if I felt more American or more French – which I thought was a very funny question at the time. I didn’t skip a beat and answered, “American, for sure”. I’d never felt like French culture had changed me all that much.

But on the 30th of December, piloting my shopping cart topped sky-high with all of the trappings of a traditional New Year’s Eve, I felt it. I felt French. Sure, that feeling really only lasted that afternoon, and some of the next day while preparing for our party, but it was something really new for me. I felt like I really “got” it all: the meal-preparation frenzy, the careful attention paid to each dish (scallops, we must have scallops!), and the following of the classic steps of a French NYE celebration – the amazingly long meal, the watching of a kitschy, but well-love variety show (cancan dancers, circus acts, the works) and the final “sound & lights show” countdown on the L’avenue des Champs-Élysées.

Christmas decoration at a vineyard in Beaujolais.

Of course I’ll never really be 100% French, but it was a pretty great feeling to be fully involved in the holidays this year, and feel fully a part of the celebrations.

This month will mark 8 years that I’ve lived in France, and it feels light-years away from those first few moments when I stepped off the plane in Marseille and thought, whoa, this isn’t exactly what I bargained for…  how in the world will I ever learn this language?

Our New Year’s Eve entree, scallops with balsamic-carmelized onions.

Living in France has most certainly changed me in the most unexpected of ways.

-Have you ever lived in a place that you felt changed you forever? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Bonne Année from belle Provence!

13 responses to “Feeling French in the New Year”

  1. Sometimes when I’m with my French friends, eating and drinking and talking about a French subject that I know something about (politics, literature, whatever) I’ll kiiiiiiiinda feel French. And I’ve certainly picked up a lot of French habits, like an appreciation for how practical scarves are or an enjoyment of wine with almost every dinner. But I’m not quite to the point of feeling French. More like Frenchish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, I feel much more “Frenchish” than really French (great term by the way, I’m totally going to use it 🙂 ). I’ve really gone for years and years thinking that France has had no big impact on me, but it’s funny how you find yourself changing in subtle ways. Like you said, especially about food & wine, the way of eating here has really rubbed off on me, in a positive way! Many thanks for your comment.


  2. Hi Tuula, I enjoyed the read. The meal prep frenzy is nuts, isn’t it? I don’t remember it being that crazy in the US, but then again, I wasn’t the one doing all the shopping so maybe it is similar.

    You might like my post from a couple of weeks ago “Do you feel French” which pretty much sums up my thoughts on that. 😉

    Hope it’s OK to link.

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Diane, that’s so funny! I read your post and it’s almost spot-on to what I was talking about… looks like us Americanos in France are living much the same experiences. Thank you very much for sharing and I hope your week is off to a great start, bonne année!


  3. Hi Tuula… Happy New Year from Canada. I love France and one day would love to spend a few months or even a year living there so I can “feel” French!! I love being Canadian, of course, and growing up in Montreal, I do know the French feel. We always celebrated Reveillon on Christmas Eve and went to Midnight Mass, and in Quebec they are big on the cheese (maybe not as much as France), but still lots of similarities. I have lived in Vancouver for many years – most of my adult life now, but I am a Franceaholic for sure. I Was there in September and heading back in May. Can’t wait. We always try to stay with French families in gites or chambres d’hotes – not hotels. That gives us the real feel of French life or as close to it as possible. I’d never give up living in beautiful Vancouver, but I must say I would love to house sit or stay there for a few months…..Especially so I could think, dream and talk French everyday. That would be my dream and the one thing in life that I’d love to do if I had a wish. I will do it for sure. I will make it happen!! Have a wonderful 2018 . I so enjoy your blog. Merci, Patricia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Patricia! A very Happy New Year to you! Thank you so much for your comment and your very nice words about the blog, I’m so pleased that you enjoy it. I have a lot of friends who are absolutely in love with Canada, sounds like such an amazing place. I can only imagine how beautiful Vancouver is, and I hope to get a chance to visit one day. I understand how you caught the French “bug” though! The lifestyle here is pretty great and they really do have a singular approach to a lot of things that we can say exists nowhere else – food & wine being the top ones that come to mind! I love your idea of house sitting and / or staying for a few months. That’s really how you get to “live” in the culture and it’s also such a learning experience – you’re extended mentally and challenged every day. I loved that part of moving here in the beginning. Never a dull moment! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and looking forward to hearing more. Wishing you all the best for 2018! Tuula


  4. I love that you had that moment of feeling French, Tuula. 🙂 Every now and then I get that Aussie feeling too, and it always makes me smile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year Krista! Hope you’re having a lovely start to 2018 “down under” and I always really appreciate your comments. Isn’t it so nice to learn from / appreciate a different culture? I’m sure you’re like me, learning new things every day and enjoying it all! 🙂


  5. Apart from England, where I was born, I have lived in Italy, the far west of Ireland, France and the USA. For me the most foreign by far was the US (Massachusetts to be exact) … and the place I feel most at home is undoubtedly France. More and more I find my own home country quite foreign. I have no notion really as to why this is so but it just seems to fit and the feeling persists as I stride through my fifth year. Je vous souhaite un très Bonne Année – mes meilleurs vœux et surtout le santé 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your comment and a very bonne année as well! Of course if we don’t have our santé, we have nothing, so I wish the same for you (it’s the most important!). And it’s funny how we search and search to find the place that’s the best “fit” for us… When I first moved to Italy, I was convinced that it was the place where I belonged… but in the end, France feels much more like “me”. It’s much more subtle here, the culture that is, so I think I missed that right in the beginning. It grows on you, slowly, and then I think you are completely unable to leave! I can’t see living anywhere but France now… lucky we are in that way! All the best, Tuula

      Liked by 1 person

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