marche de noel

The Christmas season seems to have officially kicked off this weekend here in France. For weeks, each town has had lights strung up on poles… now they are actually turned on at night. And the Christmas markets have started. The big one around here is in Grenoble. It goes from now until Christmas eve.

Today, we headed out to the marche de Noel in St Martin d’Uriage.

The vendors and warm weather aside, there was something really charming about going to an event in our little town and running into person after person we know. Not all other ISE’s. (but mostly) Each stopped to say hello, offer a hand with some translating, an explanation for the tradition behind a food for sale.img_6301.jpg

What was for sale? A lot of jewelery. Lots of it. Apparently, beading has taken off in France. There were a few people with pottery. A couple of artists. Some scarves. I nearly bought Todd a beret. Some wooden toys. Cakes. Wine. Champagne. Cheese. A guy wandered around playing his accordion. (retirement possibility, Dad?)img_6293.jpg

Of course, Papa Noel was in attendance. He handed out traditional candies and oranges to the kids. To the kids who weren’t afraid of him. Kaitlyn clung to her daddy when Papa Noel came too close. She said he wasn’t her friend and she wanted nothing to do with that guy. Nothing at all. Ok. Hopefully she’ll get past her fear of Santa in time for our big Christmas trip to Colmar.img_6308.jpg

We did pick up a few things.

Kaitlyn stopped at the first toy seller she found. I told her she could pick out one thing. She looked very carefully at each thing and really took her time to decide. She finally picked her one thing: a wood snake made so it can slither.   img_6305.jpgimg_6295.jpgI guess she decided that the snake she made her granddad buy her in the Phoenix airport needed a friend.

I bought chestnuts from the booth run by Kaitlyn’s school. Couldn’t figure out why they were impossible to open, cold and hard as little rocks. Nasty things, really. Waste of two euros! Then some woman started blabbing on and on to me in French. All I could say was the old trusty “je ne comprends pas.”  img_6309.jpgShe sighed and switched to English. I’d walked away from the stand with the “example” chestnuts, not the ones that had been cooked. The woman at the stand had tried to chase me down to tell me, but I was too fast (first time for everything). No wonder they were so awful. She offered to walk back to the stand with me to exchange them for ones you could actually eat, but I’d just bought Kaitlyn a waffle she’d been begging for and thought if I delayed her consumption of that she’d be furious. I never did get back over to exchange those chestnuts, but at least I know they weren’t expecting me to eat what I’d gotten!

Kaitlyn was thrilled to have a waffle. We didn’t bring our waffle maker and we apparently really need to buy one. I knew she liked them but had no idea she’d miss them this much. We tried some frozen waffles last weekend. They were made in Belgium which made them genuine, if not good tasting, Belgium waffles.img_6267.jpg

One group was selling some cabbage soup, which I am told is very good. Bill didn’t want any because he isn’t big on cabbage. It smelled great, I should have just gotten some for myself. One of the people we ran into is from France… he said he was out at 7 this morning to buy his daily bread and saw them cooking the soup and just had to return for some. He says it’s a tradition to eat that soup after a long night of partying…. at 4 or 5 am after, say, New Year’s Eve, you break out the soup. Hhhhmm…. ok.

I didn’t leave with my soup or with roasted chestnuts… or even with bags of Christmas gifts. But I think I picked up a wee bit of Christmas spirit and a renewed adoration for our little town and the others who call it home-for-now.

3 Responses to “marche de noel”

  1. Dad says:

    Accordions in retirement would simply put a squeeze on how much time is available to do other things. Not that I’d bellow out key activities to the exclusion of base living, but pumping out so many varied fun things day in and day out can make reeding difficult. It’s an open and shut case, really.

  2. Dad says:

    Papa Noel has no face. No wonder Kaitlyn is afraid. Who befriends something that is a fuzzy white mass of nylon hair that walks and has a nose + two eyes behind glass barely peeking out of all that hair? Good for her to realize fantasies to be accepted must broach on reason. Walking hair isn’t reasonable.

  3. Dad says:

    As a little girl, Mandy used to bite into wax fruit. As an adult she’s eating the plastic sample chestnuts. Some things don’t change.

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