Get ready for a lot of pictures, folks.
Though we were far away from friends and family (and missing them greatly), we still had a lovely Niçoise Christmas.
The day before Christmas Eve (so…Christmas Eve Eve) we met up with Molly and Katy and ventured into Vieux Nice to see the live crèche with musical performers and real animals. The streets were far busier than in the previous weeks, and the air was buzzing with the excitement of the holiday. Even the butcher was in the holiday spirit, and a huge line had formed to buy birds for Christmas Eve dinner.
The next day on Christmas Eve, we had a relaxing morning at home and then went into Nice as it got dark to see the lights with Molly and Katy. We had only been in town in the daytime so far, so we wanted to see everything all lit up before Christmas.We were not disappointed! Place Masséna was decked out and even more impressive than we had expected. It was also a lot more crowded too, but nothing compared to what we were used to in New York. We had a nice spot of champagne and then Katy convinced Molly to go up again on the giant Ferris Wheel (Molly “white knuckled it” the whole time).
After that we headed to the apartment of Chris’ parents for more champange and appetizers, and to open some presents. Chris’ mother made me the most beautiful scarf – I was so surprised! I’ll get a better picture for you but it’s a blue and turquoise version of Katy’s below. Molly and Chris got me some fancy body wash and Jared got a giant scratch ticket. Everybody really went out of their way to make sure we felt welcome and included, and we are so touched by their kindness.
Katy loves to pose for pictures while Nico actively dives out of the way (lest you think I don’t try to include him). After the presents we went over to Molly and Chris’ for dinner and to give Katy and Nico their gifts from us.
The next morning (Christmas Day!) we had some mimosas and breakfast at home and then met up at Molly and Chris’ to drive up to his family’s house in Blausasc, about 20 minutes above Nice. There was a big lively crowd of Chris’ family, and they were really fun to spend the day with. It was nice to be around someone’s family if we couldn’t be with our own! I was also feeling quite at home since I’d been up to the Blausasc house a few times on my previous visits. It was particularly cozy for Christmas Day, though.
Here, instead of Christmas dinner they do a lunch (which I think is pretty common for Europe), and it is several courses long and paired with wine (OF COURSE). We were so full for the rest of the day that I only ate a yogurt for dinner to help digest! We started out with champagne and sausages, then moved on to homemade fois gras pâté with various breads (Molly brought gluten-free bread for Jared, because we are totally spoiled here). There was a delicious fig bread, but with the pâté my favorite was the gingerbread – I would have never thought to put them together but…wow. Then we moved on to a roast (Molly made stuffed turkey breast for me since I don’t eat beef…like I said, spoiled) accompanied by three potato gratins: regular, asparagus and violet. Then we moved on to salad and cheese – the French eat salad after their main course to aid digestion – and at this point Jared realized what I meant at the beginning of the meal when I said I was going to pace myself. Oy, the cheese! Most of it was local and they were all delicious. After that came dessert. We had a twist on the traditional bûche de Noël and had two bûches, one with lemon and raspberry sorbet and one with hazelnut and vanilla ice cream. THEN we had dried fruits and nougat, which are traditional Christmas foods of Nice. Chris’ mother explained that there are 13 traditional foods…but nobody could quite list them all at once, and I couldn’t remember them even if they did. Lastly, we had various chocolates with coffee, and Jared had to go sit down on the couch and watch some American football with Chris because he could barely move. He did choke down some Limoncello, though.
Once Jared could move again we went downstairs to the game room and worked off a few calories with some intense rounds of fooseball. Molly turned on the French 80’s music (the room doubles as the family “disco”) and Nico practiced his ping pong. We had been told there would be a tournament with a cash prize, but I think everyone was too full to make that happen. Probably for the best, as one of Chris’ relatives is some sort of ping pong champion so none of us would have stood a chance!
Since the festivities were early in the day, we got back to our place with a lot of time to relax, digest and Skype with our families. It was really a great day. We are so happy to have been in Nice to celebrate with Molly and Chris and their extended family, and are so thankful for friends like them who make us feel a little closer to home when we are halfway around the world.