Christmas – French School Style


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I used to bemoan the fact that French schools didn’t put the same emphasis on art as English ones. In some ways I am right and others wrong. Art is a very small part of the school curriculum but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a means for artistic expression. There are some very talented artists beavering away all over France to bring art to school children.

I have to take my hat off to the extraordinary talent of Madame Corruble, an active parent at our kid’s school, St Dominique in Rouen. Last year my son in 3ième had the great fortune to study KT (religeous studies) under her and they spent the time making the most amazing Crèche de Noel as seen above. I never believed it could be improved upon. But this year they have done….

IMG_20121213_155022My mobile camera really doesn’t do it justice – but this is the creation of the historic buildings of the Vieux Marché. What you don’t see in this photo is how the students have coloured all the windows as stained glass. The effect is amazing.

IMG_20121213_155116In the centre, the oldest auberge in France, now in minature.

IMG_20121213_155103surrounded by its neighbours.

IMG_20121213_155050Not to be outdone, we parents decided to get creative and make ‘couronnes’ (crowns) of foliage for gates and doorways, to sell at the school Marché de Noel.

I had great satisfaction in making all the French mamans say ‘wreath’ – a tongue twisting impossibility for them to match my recent failure to pronounce ‘canalisation, a word that i’ve needed to use a lot thanks to the leak in my smelly toilet and my landlord’s misguidedly hopeful request that my assurer pays up!

Mais NON, monsieur!

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Anyway – along with all the good humoured banter we managed to make a good dozen or so, all for sale at the Marché. I nearly managed to pinch my friend’s much coveted bit of ribbon for my wreath, but she caught me just as I was attempting to attach it!

At 3, we were invited into school to hear the 6ièmes singing a rendition of Spanish and English carols, and to eat all the lovely ‘gouters’ we parents spent half the night before baking. Of course nothing so simple as giving me some English recipes to bake, I was dealt a handful of Spanish delicacies, for which I was missing half the ingredients at approximately 8pm! Apparently most of the French mamans were in the same boat, as on the table for the sing-a-long were about ten versions of the same recipes, the more complex ones having been discarded.

We discovered where all the missing reindeer had gone!

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One little girl piped up “My mum made the christmas pudding because my dad doesn’t like English people”, and whilst the staff  busied themselves trying to restore what they imagined irrevocably damaged ango-french relations, I was laughing uproariously in the corner.

Carols over, we made our way to the Marché de Noel….

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…..where the children were blowing all our hard-earned pennies. Mine were delighted at the vast quantities of sweets on offer, but forgot the point was to buy ‘maman’ a christmas present. Sigh!

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Did you spot the lavender fish in the basket at the back? My youngest tells me he was all ready to buy one for me before the lure of the sweet table became too strong. He knew it was the kind of thing I liked, he said. But that could be because he saw me sewing them all over the last few weeks! december 2012 009

After school I am able to go and collect my christmas tree from the school garden, as the school buy in bulk and the proceeds go towards residential school trips for the kids who can’t normally afford to go.

If you spot a bedraggled woman (it’s raining ‘comme un chien’ today) dragging her tree through the centre of Rouen, that will be me!

And if you see three boys dragging bags of sweets, christmas hats and sparkly decorations, ring me quickly so that I get time to bar the door until the sugar ‘rush’ is over!

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5 comments on “Christmas – French School Style

  1. amelie88 says:

    Both Nativity scenes of the Place du Vieux Marche and Rue du Gros Horloge are amazing!!!!

  2. Oh I remember so well the Christmas sales so well. I always made delicate spice cookies wrapped delicatel in pretty, transparent Christmas paper, tied with pretty red ribbon. Now that my oldest is in seconde and my youngest is in 3ème, I don’t do that anymore but it was fun when we did. Anyway, I’m healing from my torn Achilles tendon and just started walking last week. Slowly but surely with crutches and as if I’m 75 years old. LOL! That Nativity scene was absolutely beautiful!!! Chapeaux they did a wonderful job! Hope you’ll be showing us a picture of your Christmas tree. 🙂

  3. The marché de noel is amazing, and completely different to anything my girls’ schools used to produce. The fact that we continued going to the Noel Kermesses is proof of how much we loved the children.

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