All posts tagged: Christmas

City of Masks: Unmasked, or Christmas in Venice

Ahhh January 25th. The perfect day to talk about December 25th! The holidays can be a tricky time of year when you’re away from home. All of the European assistants I know went home, and some of the Americans as well. But as for me, Home came to France!! My family and sister arrived in Chambéry after a much delayed flight on December 22nd. We walked around the town, got some snacks at the market and they got to meet one of the teachers I work with, which was especially nice since my mom is doing a pen pal exchange with her class! The next day we set off in our rented car for Venice, Italy!!! The drive was long, but as we keep reminding people here, driving 6 hours in the US doesn’t get you all that far, so the fact that we made it through the Alps and across nearly all of northern Italy in that amount of time was actually pretty thrilling. And when I say we went through the Alps, I mean we …

All of the Lights: Christmas in “secular” France

The Christmas season arrived swiftly in France. Although the French are as unaware about Thanksgiving as the rest of the world, they – just like any self-respecting American should – waited until all the parades and football games were over before blasting carols and decorating trees. The Friday night after T-day saw the illumination of hundreds of lights strung through the streets of Chambéry and that weekend the Christmas market opened! From what I can tell, there is a Christmas market in virtually every single French town of a certain size (I’ve seen them in Chambéry, Lyon, Grenoble and Montpellier), and there are certain elements that make every Christmas market: Dozens of tiny wooden cabins, called chalets, which serve as the individual stands of each vendor At least one chalet, but usually more, serving vin chaud (hot mulled wine – delicious!) and churros and marrons chauds (roasted chestnuts – also delicious!). A chapellerie, or a hat vendor. I don’t know why, but every Christmas market I’ve seen has at least one. Vendors of regional products: sausages, …