Happy holidays!

Our first Montpellier Christmas Season

Because our beloveds keep up with us through this blog, we are not sending out a holiday letter summarizing our year (although we LOVE receiving those from others!), but through this short post we’d like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday. After traveling most of the month of November, Phil and I decided to stay home and enjoy our first Montpellier Christmas (we spent last Christmas in Stockholm with our daughter and son-in-law). 

When we got home, Phil’s first job (after unpacking, of course) was to finish my early Christmas present: a gorgeous acrylic seascape of one of the beaches near Montpellier. I feel joy every time I look at it!

The beautiful Montpellier seascape Phil painted for me!

To get into the holiday spirit, we had a day trip with friends to the holiday market (called l’Hivernales in French) in Aniane, a medieval village less than an hour away. We arrived at the only available parking spot only to find two women standing in it, trying to save it for friends that “might” be coming. Fortunately, we had our friend in the car, and with her expert French and her very French gestures, which matched those of the two women, she succeeded in persuading them to move so we could park. “It’s good to have an Alpha in the car,” commented her husband.

The view from the parking lot in Aniane

The market was wonderful, offering everything from hot wine (vin chaud) to perfume made by a “nose” who lives near the village, to lovely handmade items.


A view of the Aniane market

We did a bit of shopping before it was time to head to Bistro des Terrasses for lunch. We went all out with the three-couse meal (four courses if ;you count the fabulous amuse bouche-)-duck fois gras, various beef, pork, and fish dishes, and delectable desserts–and, of course, plenty of wine.

My dessert: a chocolate-orange mille-feuille

After lunch we walked back to the now-crowded market and strolled around, returning to a few special vendors for goodies. We saw tons of Christmas trees, Santa, and this wonderful book hut.

What’s a holiday market without a hut made of books?!

We finally bade farewell to Aniane, with plans to return when things are back to normal. It’s a gorgeous little village and well worth a trip. Back in Montpellier, one couple hosted us for a delicious meal and a “Love, Actually” viewing to top off the delightful day.

Another lovely Aniane view

Aside from this trip, several fun lunches, French lessons, and errands, our month has been fairly quiet. We’ve enjoyed the festive season in Montpellier and look forward to a quiet Christmas at home with a few close friends. I’ll be making our traditional foods–turkey and dressing, Christmas tree coffee cake, and more–but with a few French twists, including escargots that friends are bringing. And Phil and I will spend some time reflecting on this splendid year, thinking of our dear friends in the U.S. and beyond, and feeling immense gratitude for  our adventurous life.

Roamers in Aniane (photo courtesy of our friend Jana)

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