December in Normandy is a reminder of some of the simpler pleasures in life and revolves around family, friends and food. There is less emphasis on the commercial element that you perhaps see in other parts of the world. Sending Christmas cards isn’t really a thing in France although people do sometimes send cards in early January with good wishes for the coming year. Decorating your house with outside lights isn’t something that a lot of French homes do. However, towns and villages do have lights although they are often classy and under-stated.
Read on for some suggestions for things to do in December in Normandy.
Visit a Christmas Market
The Christmas markets have already started and welcome artisans selling a range of products. Most events take place at the weekend with smaller ones being a one or two day event. Larger towns and cities have markets for a much longer period. Some events have food to buy and eat in-situ ranging from pancakes and waffles to cake and candy floss. Father Christmas also manages to call in at some events. Click on the link for a list of just some of the Normandy Christmas markets happening this December.
Indulge In Some Chocolate
December is definitely the month to buy chocolate in France. It starts appearing in supermarkets in late November with an extremely wide range of different products. If you prefer something different, then chocolate shops, épiceries, boulangeries and pâtisseries are the place to go. Here you’ll be able to buy hand-made chocolates and select your favourite flavours. Snails are not something you associate with Christmas but you can buy chocolates in the shape of snails. The shell is made of milk, white or dark chocolate filled with praline. They were first produced in 1934 by the Lanvin chocolatier and have remained a Christmas tradition ever since.
Visit A Tourist Attraction
During the Christmas school holidays some tourist attractions will open if you fancy a change from Christmas preparations. Lucerne abbey will be open from 17 – 31 December. The Premonstratensian abbey was founded in 1143 and is undergoing an intensive restoration project. You can read more about the Abbaye Sainte-Trinité de La Lucerne by clicking on the link below. Other nearby heritage that will be open include Pirou chateau and the château de Gratot.
Enjoy Typical French Christmas Fare
Whether you eat out at a restaurant or buy food to cook, you’ll find Christmas-type food on menus or in the shops. Usually foie gras is very popular but the recent bird flu outbreak has meant that it’s in short supply. Normandy’s shellfish industry is always busy in December and it’s a popular festive choice. Boulangeries re-create their regular cakes as mini Christmas logs and you can buy larger ones for a dessert to share. They often include sponge, mousse and ganache in a wide range of flavours. There’s more information in this article about what we eat at Christmas in Normandy. For a special treat you’ll find a good selection of champagne to toast your friends and family.
Watch A Christmas-Themed Event
If Christmas markets don’t appeal, how about a different type of Christmas activity. From fireworks, taking a dip in the sea, parades and ice skating there should be something to appeal to you. Barneville Carteret will host a firework display on 17 December from 6.30pm while hardy souls will gather in Agon Coutainville at 12 noon on 31 December for a dip in the sea. Coutances has a free outdoor ice rink until 1 January in the cathedral square. Alternatively, find a local cafe or bar and enjoy a glass of hot wine or cider.
There aren’t as many sound and light shows as in previous years respecting the energy crisis. However a number of villages in the Orne region will be lit up. The list of illuminated Normandy villages is in the link. There will also be an illuminated miniature village in Guéhébert which is between Gavray and Coutances.
Normandy in December offers lots of options that are not Christmas related inclusing walking on the beach, stocking up with foodie treats and exploring heritage sites.