Growing up I always dreamt of skating in Central Park, but at the time I had never visited America and my dream was simply fueled by movies I had seen – it seemed to represent the perfect Christmas scene. I’d forgotten all about that dream until we bought our house here, however, and then during our first Christmas I saw that there was an ice-skating rink in Rochefort. It seemed that decades later my wish was to finally come true, although the country and setting were different. In reality though, the magic is exactly how I imagined it would be. There are laughs and giggles, the smooth swoosh of skates on ice and everyone has rosy, glowing cheeks from exertion in the chill air.
With some considerable work and effort the Place Colbert, right in the heart of Rochefort, is transformed into an open air rink for most of December and half of January. Lots of Christmas trees are brought in and little wooden chalets appear selling local delicacies and crafts.
and no one can deny Rochefort is looking radiant in the winter sunshine
It will be of little surprise to you all then that we spent yesterday afternoon skating
and quite naturally we then enjoyed chocolat chaud in the late afternoon sun
Christmas here does not explode in a blaze of colour at the end of November, rather it slowly evolves as December unfolds; each day a new light will appear, a new stall at the market, a new delicacy in the boulangerie. Streets and shops are decorated, Christmas trees appear in the windows of houses, wreaths welcome the visitor or passerby at front doors and green garlands of fur with red bows replace the red geraniums of summer in window boxes. It’s all very subtle, but it wets the appetite and feeds our anticipation and excitement; it’s not everyone’s idea of a perfect Christmas, but I rather like it.
Further afield, Christmas markets take place most weekends
and in Pont-l’Abbé the ancient archway under the old prison, a road I travel twice a day on the school run, is lit up to perfection.
It’s all part of the build up to Christmas in our little corner of France.