The Queen Mother’s Favourite Fruit Cake

For the cake:

  • 225g dried dates chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g dried walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 275g plain flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 75g butter

For the icing:

  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Grease and line a 23cm x 30cm tin.  Heat oven to 180ºF.

To make the cake:

Put the chopped dates in a bowl and pour over a breakfast cup of boiling water. Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir in. Set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar in another bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter, sugar and egg mix, then the dates and incorporate well. Scrape the batter into the baking pan and spread it right to the edges. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. To make the topping: In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and cream over a low heat. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil gently for 3 minutes, stirring all the time. Pour over warm cake. When cool, store in an airtight tin.

Credit/Source:  Julia Watson, The Bugle

 

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Festive traditions in France & Christmas Vocab List

  • L’Avent – Advent
  • Un ange – angel
  • Une chandelle – candle
  • Une carte de Noël – Christmas card
  • Un chant de Noël – Christmas carol
  • Le jour de Noël – Christmas Day
  • Le réveillon de Noël – Christmas Eve dinner
  • La veille de Noël – Christmas Eve
  • La fête de Noël – Christmas party
  • Un cadeau de Noël – Christmas present
  • L’arbre/Le sapin de Noël – Christmas tree
  • Le père Noël – Father Christmas
  • Un santon – figurine in a Nativity
  • Un jeu – game
  • Un jouet – toy
  • La crèche – manger
  • Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas!
  • La Messe de minuit – midnight Mass
  • Le gui – mistletoe
  • Le jour de l’An – New Year’s Day
  • La Saint-Sylvestre – New Year’s Eve
  • Le réveillon du Nouvel An – New Year’s Eve dinner
  • Un cadeau – present
  • Un renne – reindeer
  • Un ruban – ribbon
  • Un traîneau – sleigh
  • La neige – snow
  • Une boule de neige – snowball
  • Un bonhomme de neige – snowman
  • Une peluche – stuffed animal
  • Noël sous la neige – white Christmas

French children traditionally leave their shoes in front of the fireplace on la veille de Noël (Christmas Eve) before they go to bed. Père Noël (Father Christmas) visits them while they sleep and if they have been good leaves presents in and around the shoes. In northern and eastern France, there is a parallel tradition which celebrates Saint Nicolas on December 6th. Adults traditionally wait until le jour de l’ An (New Year’s Day) to exchange gifts, although, increasingly, families are exchanging gifts on Christmas Day.

Festive traditions An important aspect of Christmas in France is the Nativité (Nativity) with its crèche (manger) and santons (figurines). The latter are often hand-made and passed down through the generations. Mistletoe is hung above the door and is considered to bring for good fortune. Note that it does not have the ‘kissing’ connotations of other countries! The sapin de Noël (Christmas tree) is not as important in France as, for example, in the UK, but it does still form part of the Christmas celebrations. Christmas trees are decorated a few days before Christmas and Père Noël will often leave sweets and treats on its branches in addition to the present in the children’s shoes. Unique to Lyon is the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights), where every house in the city will place a candle in their windows, producing a spectacular effect. The celebration usually lasts four days, culminating on 8th December.

Le réveillon de Noël The most important Christmas event in France is la Messe de minuit (midnight Mass) followed by the eating of a meal known as the réveillon de Noël (from the verb réveiller, to ‘wake up’ or ‘revive’). Although fewer and fewer French attend midnight Mass, it is still an important part of Christmas for many families. The ré- veillon represents a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth and is one of the most important meals of the year. Traditionally the réveillon is a family affair and the meal is eaten immediately after midnight Mass at home or in a restaurant. The meal varies from region to region, but typically will involve seafood, followed by a cooked bird and the traditional bûche de Noël (Yule log). This cake is made from chocolate and chestnuts and represents the log burned from Christmas Eve until Epiphany in parts of France. The log-burning is itself based on an ancient pagan Gaul tradition of burning a log for the duration of the winter solstice. La Saint-Sylvestre – 1st January French New Year is celebrated with a feast called the réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre.

On New Year’s Day friends and family exchange good wishes and sometimes gifts. The president also uses Saint-Sylvestre to make his annual address to the nation. L’Épiphanie – 6th January The final celebration of the festive season in France is Épiphanie (Epiphany) on 6th January. The tradition on this day revolves around the eating of a special cake known as the galette des Rois (literally ‘cake of the kings’). A small figurine or fève is placed inside the cake. The cake is cut into pieces and distributed by a child, known as le petit roi, or l’enfant soleil. Whoever receives the piece of the cake with the gift inside is declared King or Queen for the day and gets to choose a partner.

en Français

Ala veille de Noël, les petits enfants français laissent traditionnellement leurs chaussures devant la cheminée avant d’aller au lit. Le Père Noël leur rend visite pendant qu’ils dorment et s’ils ont été sages, il laisse des cadeaux dans leurs chaussures. Dans le nord et l’est de la France, il existe une tradition similaire : c’est la célébration de Saint-Nicolas le 6 décembre. Traditionnellement les adultes attendent le jour de l’An pour échanger les cadeaux, bien que les familles le fassent de plus en plus le jour de Noël.

Traditions festives En France, la Nativité est un moment important de Noël avec sa crèche et ses santons souvent faits main et transmis d’une génération à l’autre. Le gui est suspendu au-dessus de la porte afin de porter chance mais sans la tradition du baiser des autres pays! Décoré quelques jours avant Noël, le sapin tient une part importante dans les célébrations mais moins cependant que dans d’autres pays tels que le Royaume Uni. Le Père Noël laisse souvent des friandises sur les branches lorsqu’il dépose les cadeaux dans les chaussures. Célébrée uniquement à Lyon, la Fête des Lumières se tient sur 4 jours, le moment phare prenant place le 8 décembre. Les habitants dé- posent une bougie sur le rebord de leurs fenê- tres, ce qui produit un effet spectaculaire.

Le réveillon de Noël Pour les Français, la messe de minuit suivie d’un dîner appelé «le réveillon de Noël» (du verbe «réveiller») est le moment le plus important de la célébration de Noël. Bien qu’en nombre décroissant, de nombreuses familles se rendent toujours à la messe. Le réveillon permet de revivre symboliquement la naissance de Jésus et c’est l’un des repas primordiaux de l’année. Le réveillon se passe généralement en famille et le repas est consommé juste après la messe de minuit, à la maison ou au restaurant. S’il varie d’une région à l’autre, le menu typique se compose de fruits de mer, d’une volaille rôtie et de la traditionnelle bûche de Noël. A base de chocolat et de noix, le gâteau symbolise une bûche qui se consume de Noël à l’Épiphanie dans certaines régions de France. C’est l’héritage de rites païens qui consistaient à faire brûler une bûche pendant le solstice d’hiver pour garantir une bonne récole. La Saint-Sylvestre – 1er janvier La nouvelle année est fêtée lors du réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre.

Le jour de l’An, familles et amis s’échangent leurs meilleurs vœux et s’offrent parfois des cadeaux. Le président choisit ce jour pour adresser son discours annuel à la nation. L’ Épiphanie – 6 janvier La saison festive se conclut le 6 janvier, lors de la célébration de l’Épiphanie. Les familles et amis se partagent alors une galette des rois. Une fève y est dissimulée et un enfant désigné comme «le petit roi» ou «l’enfant soleil» distribue les parts. Celui qui trouve la fève devient le roi ou la reine d’un jour et doit choisir un partenaire de sexe opposé.

Credit/Source: Sophie Arsac for The Bugle

Polygone Riviera – A Lifestyle Mall

Summary:

  • Cagnes-sur-Mer is the site for the first lifestyle shopping mall in France
  • 8 minutes from Nice, 20 mns. from Cannes, 10 mns. from Antibes, 5 mns. from Vence – easily accessible from A8
  • French Riviera is the #1 tourist destination for the French and #2 tourist destination for foreigners
  • The center is the first four-star shopping mall in the south of France

The mall comprises 75,000m2 to include:

  • Gastronomical dining plaza
  • Panoramic view terrace
  • Free wifi & interactive directories
  • Reception area & car parking valet
  • Luxury brand stores
  • Casino, 10-movie theater, bowling center & more….

Website HERE

PRINTEMPS & much more….

Christmas on the Côte d’Azur

REBLOGGED from blog at http://www.loumessugo.com

Christmas on the Côte d’Azur is full of fun, often full of good weather and probably a great deal more festive than you might think.

Christmas on Côte dAzur

Christmas Markets

Most towns in the area will have some form of Christmas market, perhaps with a theme, usually only for a day or two and nearly always in the month of December, not before (though there are some exceptions).  Here are some of my favourites

Aix-en-Provence:  the earliest market in the area.  It runs from 19 November – 27 December in the Cours Mirabeau consisting of regular chalet-style stalls selling everything and anything (gift based). There is also a separate market for the traditional 13 desserts of Provence on the 18-24 December in Place François Villon – Les Allées Provençales.

Christmas market Aix en Provence

Le Rouret:  another November market, this time just for one day on Sunday 29 November.  Le Rouret Christmas market is billed as “pure tradition” in the sense of past times/olden days and differs from many others in that it focuses on traditional artisanal crafts with displays of past trades and people dressed up in period costumes.  You won’t see much plastic tat here but you will find a lot of lovely produce and live farm animals for children to pet.  I’ve written about it in detail here.  My advice is to go early, it gets very crowded and parking can be a problem.

Christmas market Le Rouret

Valbonne:  one of my favourites, Valbonne Christmas market isn’t a “chalet” market, rather the streets of the old village are filled with market stalls just like every Friday morning but more of them, more christmassy and longer lasting.   To get into the Christmas spirit there’s nothing like a wander around this market followed by a drink in the square and a mosey around the seasonal show by the church, town hall and river.  Over the last couple of years this has been an incredible display of fire and lights.  This year’s programme is not out yet, but it’s sure to be good.  The market stays open in the evenings while the shows take place.  This year the festivities are from 20-24 December.

Valbonne Christmas market vin chaud

Nice:  the Christmas market is a classic affair of wooden chalets selling Christmas trinkets, jewellery, food, crafts, clothing and other gifts.  It is normally held in Place Massena where you’ll also find the Big Wheel, a children’s area of trampolines and bouncy castles, usually a merry-go-round shaped like a Christmas tree, oyster and champagne bars, vin chaud and a skating rink. (However this year due to the current security issues it will be within the gated section of the Jardin Albert 1er and I’m not sure about the children’s area, best to check online before going and I’ll update when I know).  The views from the giant ferris wheel are lovely and the atmosphere is always very festive here.  The theme this year is “traditions and folklore” and it runs from 5 December – 4 January.

Nice Christmas market

Monaco:  the Christmas market on the port usually has a food theme with plenty of chalets serving delicious seasonal and festive food from around the world.  There’s also a big wheel here along with a small fair for children and the wonderful skating rink.  The market is open from 4 December – 3 January.

Christmas market Monaco

Roquefort les Pins:  my town of Roquefort has its own festive celebration showcasing Christmas around the world at its annual “Noëls du Monde”.   A quarter of the population of the town is foreign and to honour this countryfolk from places as diverse as Poland, Peru, Holland, Haiti, Australia, Italy, Sweden, UK, Lebanon, New Zealand, South Africa and more come together to share their Christmas traditions with food, crafts and other specialities.  This year it takes place on 12 December.

Noels du Monde

Decorations & Illuminations

Lucéram:  one of the highlights of Christmas on the Riviera has got to be visiting the lovely perched village of Lucéram to see the display of hundreds of Nativity scenes (creches/cribs).  It’s so very different from regular town Christmas decorations, unique and wonderfully festive.  This year the village is decorated from 1 December – 6 January.

Lucéram Christmas village

Nice:  Nice’s Christmas illuminations are always pretty good centering on Place Massena and the water mirror/fountains in the Promenade du Paillon, the streets around Massena, Ave Jean Medecin, Place Garibaldi, the Promenade des Anglais and around Cours Saleya.  There’s always a giant Santa opposite Lenval (the children’s hospital) on the Prom for the poor kids in hospital over the festive season to look out at and several large postboxes dotted around town to send Christmas wish lists to Father Christmas.

Christmas lights in Nice Promenade du Paillon

Shows, pantomimes and carols

The Nutcracker (Casse Noisette) by l’Opéra National de Russie at l’Acropolis Nice, 10 Dec, 8pm

The Nutcracker by The Royal Ballet live cinema screening at CIV cinema 16 Dec, 8.15pm (to find out more about live CINEMA screening and to be in with a chance of winning tiickets click here). Primary school children FREE.

Troïka sur Glace, ice skating show with a Russian theme, Monaco Port, 20 Dec, 5.30pm.  FREE.

Valbonne Christmas fireworks and light show – I’m just guessing here and will update as soon as the information becomes available but usually there’s a great spectacle on the lawn between the Mairie and church every evening that the market is on.

Valbonne Christmas fire spectacle

Sleeping Beauty panto in English 1st performance 15 Dec Chateauneuf-Grasse then many more shows through December.

Carol Concert by Riviera International Singers, Antibes Cathedral  4 Dec,  7.30pm in aid of the Antibes Lifeboat, and  at Valbonne church 10 Dec 8pm + 12 Dec 6pm (Valbonne church has heated pews, this is a luxury I’d never come across before living on the Côte d’Azur!)

Big Blaze Chorus Winter Concert, Holy Trinity Church Cannes 3 Dec, 7pm

Christmas Concert by Sweet Seven, Valbonne church 6 Dec, 5pm.

carol concert in Valbonne

 Skating

Skating at outdoor pop-up rinks has become an integral part of Christmas fun in many places around the world and the Côte d’Azur is no exception.  My family love the rink at Monaco (the pool on the port is transformed into a rink for 3 months every winter). Skating to the backdrop of sailing boats and super yachts under a bright blue sky in mid-winter is an unbeatable experience!  (It’s also rarely crowded, you aren’t limited in time and you don’t have to book.)

Christmas skating rink Monaco

Patinoire à ciel ouvert Monaco Port, open every day from 4 Dec – 28 Feb except 20 Dec.

If you want to have a mountain experience, hopefully surrounded by some snow, the pop-up rink in Auronis rather lovely.  Open every day from December to the end of March (weather permitting).

Nice Place Massena, 5 Dec – 4 Jan every day from 11am – 8pm (sessions of 90 mins).

Christmas skating in Nice

 Santons

If you’re after something typically local to Provence and traditional at Christmas then do take a look at Santons.  These are clay figurines that come in many different shapes and sizes from standard Nativity scenes to more original characters from village life.  They are used to decorate houses at Christmas time and are available at most Christmas markets and at special fairs “Foire aux Santons” in a number of places.  They are highly collectable and make great gifts too.

santons of Provence foire aux santons

Here are the dates and locations of some Foires aux Santons on the Côte d’Azur and nearby.  The biggest and best is further afield in Marseille.

Mouans-Sartoux 13 Nov – 24 Dec, Mediathèque La Strada

Aix-en-Provence 29 Nov – 30 Dec, Espace Cézanne, Allées Provençales

Valbonne 13 Nov – 24 Dec, Salle paroissiale (church hall) next to St Blaise

For a very thorough programme of festivities in the Alpes-Maritimes check & pay attention to the dates as some information hasn’t been updated for 2015!

Christmas market stall

 

Christmas in Nice

The Christmas Village willl take place from 6th December 2014 to 4th January 2015 in the heart of Nice, on the Place Massena.
Every day from 11 am to 8 pm (9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays), come and admire the illuminations, do your Christmas shopping at the crafts chalets or go for a spin on the skating-rink.

FULL ARTICLE & VIDEO:
Christmas in Nice.

Winter on the French Riviera

Nice is a nice place to visit and live all year long, but winter is extra nice this year: a new Promenade park, moderate temperatures, panoramic sea views, and holiday festivities in Place Massena: holiday market craft chalets, lighted holiday decorations, snow-flocked trees, a giant, lighted ferris wheel, and an ice skating rink. Nice is truly a city for all seasons!

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cloudy day