While Christmas in St Tropez might not be the first thing that comes to mind, there is something about the festive season that offers visitors a whole new perspective of this glitzy coastal retreat. As well as the dazzling Christmas lights and an extensive range of events taking place along the Côte d’Azur, there’s the additional benefit of having some of the world’s best cuisine at your fingertips, where you can enjoy a wonderful French Christmas dinner in Saint Tropez. In fact, the traditional Provençal Christmas feast is a true culinary experience, featuring a variety of delicacies and multiple courses, and, of course, plenty of champagne. If you are considering becoming acquainted with traditional French Christmas food in time for your winter getaway, St Tropez House can guide you through this wonderful epicurean experience.
Le Gros Souper/Le Réveillon – Christmas Eve Dinner
Contrary to many other European Christmas dinners, the main event for the French is not Christmas Day dinner, but the dinner which precedes Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. So, whether you are attending a local service at the beautiful Italian-Baroque style Eglise Notre Dame de l’Assomption, or simply relaxing with your family, it is worth getting involved in this wonderful tradition if only for the incredible French Christmas food.
Le Réveillon, as it is more commonly known in Provence, refers to the ‘awakening’ of Jesus and comprises of a meat-free meal featuring seven dishes of fish and vegetables specialities. The aperitifs consist of caviar, oysters, foie gras and escargots, all served with Champagne. The mains include a garlic and herb soup called l’argo bouido, and brandade de morue, a cod and potato dish, as well as scallops served in a cream sauce called Coquilles Saint Jacques. These seven dishes represent the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary and are a thoroughly indulgent way to kick off the Christmas festivities.
Thirteen Provençal Desserts
To follow the Midnight Mass is a tradition which is exclusive to Provence, where mass-goers’ piety is rewarded with a total of thirteen desserts. Taking Christmas extravagance to an excess typical of the region which is home to Saint Tropez, these thirteen desserts include a variety of dried fruits and nuts, fresh fruits, various sweets and a favourite of French Christmas food, the Bûche de Noël, which is essentially a French yule log. These après-mass treats traditionally symbolise Jesus and the 12 Apostles and are a wonderful way to pacify children who might otherwise try to stay awake on the look-out for Père Noël.
French Christmas Day Dinner
French Christmas dinner traditions vary from region to region, and family to family, but Christmas Day dinner generally consists of any stuffed bird; a decadent pheasant or the humble turkey can make the perfect centrepiece for a Christmas Day celebration in Saint Tropez. One particularly popular recipe is a roast turkey with roast chestnut stuffing, served alongside an appetising platter of local cheeses and breads.
Christmas Dinner in Saint Tropez
If you are a cooking enthusiast, or intent on upholding the tradition of the French Christmas dinner being a home-cooked labour, we would recommend searching in the Place Des Lices market for freshly baked breads, regional cheeses, and a variety of organic herbs, fruits and vegetables to adorn your Christmas feast. This popular Saint Tropez market is open every Tuesday and Saturday morning and can be a great place to pick up recipes and tips from local food vendors.
If, however, you are seeking out the peace of Saint Tropez in winter in order to avoid all the hassle involved in going to the marketplace and labouring over the stove in your Saint Tropez villa, there are many options for dining out. Several of the gourmet restaurants in Saint Tropez will be opening their doors on Christmas, although due to the local norm being a home-cooked meal, it is worth checking whether your favourite dining establishment will be open in advance. We would recommend La Bastide, which will be hosting Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas day lunch. Le Girelier is also recommended for partaking in Saint Tropez Christmas festivities, with its two michelin stars and fame for seafood, it is the perfect place to indulge in local traditional Christmas meals.
If all this wonderful tradition and French delicacies are not enough to tempt you into spending your Christmas in Saint Tropez, why not also peruse St Tropez House’s collection of luxury villas in order to find your ideal Christmas getaway.