The snow is here and the Christmas lights in Chamonix are on, and there's plenty to do in the week before Christmas day.
Christmas markets pop up in the centre of town with stalls in small wooden huts, selling wares of all kinds, plus local foods and drinks. Perfect to pick up a last minute gift, or something to take home. You can browse local, handmade gifts, jewellery, soaps and a lot more while you indulge in some vin chaud or a local beer.
Christmas in Chamonix
With so many families visiting the Chamonix valley for the festive season, there is a real child-like excitement as the big day draws ever closer, and usually there's an opportunity to spot the main man himself meeting and greeting people around the town. There is normally a parade through the streets of Chamonix with Papa Noël followed by the local school children, held around the last day of term when the streets lights are turned on and it's hard to ignore that Christmas is nearly here.
To prepare you for your French Christmas, here are a few festive facts that make the French Santa Claus a little different:
- Rather than a red hat, Père Noël wears a red cloak with a hood trimmed in white fur - a small difference easily unnoticed.
- Children do not wake up to presents under the tree on Christmas morning, because traditionally le Père Noël brings toys to good little boys and girls after evening Mass on Christmas Eve.
- Children do not leave milk and cookies for Papa Noël, but at the very least they'll leave him a glass of Calvados or wine.
- Children do not hang stockings, but rather leave their shoes and slippers out and if they have been good Père Noël will fill them with treats.
- Children in France behave around the holidays out of fear of Le Père Fouettard, who follows Père Noël to discipline naughty children.