Festive Cost of Living in France 2015

Enjoying a truly French Christmas without breaking the bank

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Christmas in France is very much a traditional one and far less commercial, so you are more than likely to find that your Christmas shopping bill is not nearly as high as it would be in the UK.  
 
The run up to Christmas is not as manic as in the UK, somehow. Shops will have special offers on for many Christmas foodstuffs such as foie gras, turkey, goose, yule logs, all of which are very popular at this time of the year in France. Oysters are also tremendously popular.
 
As always, it is worth shopping around and in particular taking advantage of the Christmas markets, which seem to be much more common in other European countries, France included. There will be all sorts of festive goodies on sale at these, both food wise and gift wise.
 
Look out for promotions in supermarkets too: they all have a large gift range at Christmas time and plenty of good bargains when it comes to Christmas foods. The Christmas meal in France usually involves at least four courses, with a huge selection of cheese taken before your dessert, and it is served traditionally after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Christmas pudding is not so well known in France, of course, but the yule log (buche de Noel) is: lots of delicious chocolate and cream, often served with a selection of chocolates and sweets.
 
There is not the familiar panic buying during the last week of Christmas in France, and you are not likely to have to worry about pre-ordering your turkey: people shop in a more leisurely fashion here and there are plenty of meats in all supermarkets and local butchers at a reasonable cost during the Christmas run up.
 
Christmas trees are not so widespread in France, but you will find plenty displayed by out of town local producers, usually cut down from a local forest. They are cheaper than they now are in the UK: expect to find a lovely bushy two metre tall tree for just a few euros. Yes, you will see municipal ones erected in public squares in towns and villages, but many homes simply display a nativity set, as well as Santa Claus climbing up an outside wall, with perhaps a few twinkly lights here and there. 
 
The nativity set is still very popular in France. Many families have little clay figures called “santons” placed around the crèche and you will often see them for sale in Christmas markets: little figures crafted from wood and sold at very reasonable cost.
In summary, Christmas is still very much a family time in France, without the feeling that you have to spend a small fortune on presents and entertaining. The true spirit of Christmas remains here, and your shopping bill is highly likely to be far less than in the UK but the real feel of Christmas is very much alive.

Further reading for Living In France

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Finding work in France

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in France.
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Education in France

Are you emigrating to France with school-age children?

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Social life in France

The best way to get settled in France is to find out as much as you can about your new community.
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Healthcare

The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world...

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