Back to articles

A French Christmas

Could it get any more swoon-worthy than celebrating Christmas in France?

Is there anyone who knows how to do Christmas quite as spectacularly as the French do?

The food is heavenly, the lights twinkle like stardust, while the traditions make the holiday season feel extra special. Their festive season stretches out for weeks rather than a couple of days. 

What’s not to love about that?  

Although celebrating Christmas in France may not be an option this year, you can bring France right to you! From cooking a French-themed Christmas dinner and decorating your home to some gorgeous French gift ideas, there are so many fun activities to enjoy this season.

Here’s how to do the perfect French Christmas and have a très chic Joyeux Noël (FYI: that’s French for Merry Christmas)!

France at Christmas time

Go to town on the Crèche

Nativity scenes are known as the “crèche” in France and are super popular across the country. 

But you won’t just find the usual suspects like baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph popping up. 

Oh no.

France likes to get the whole community involved in the celebrations, and rightly so! You’ll see a butcher, a baker, and a policeman on display too. And traditionally, these are all made of clay.   

In the month of December, certain towns like Marseilles have delightful Christmas markets (more on this to come) where you can purchase authentic, local versions of these nativity figures.

One of the unusual facts about Christmas in France is that, unlike the rest of the world, the crèche remains on display in homes until February 2nd, 40 days after Christmas

French markets 

Christmas market

Christmas markets (marchés de Noel) are a big part of France’s Christmas tradition. The first one can be traced back to 1570, which was Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmarik

Many of them start in the last weekend of December, running through into the New Year. And each one is slightly different from the next.

At these staple French markets, you can buy beautiful decorations, yummy festive treats, and high-quality artisan products from local producers. Each Christmas market is slightly different from the next, with its own unique charm. At every market, you’ll find beautiful decorations, yummy festive treats, and high-quality artisan products from local producers. 

The array of delicious food is perhaps the highlight and a brilliant way to bring France to you this year.

If you’re looking to bring that beautiful Christmas aroma into your home, start by roasting some chestnuts. This is one of the most popular snacks at French markets as you stroll around the different stalls. 

Delicacies like pâté, foie gras, cheese, and charcuterie are all French favorites, and each region boasts its own specialties. 

One dish that can’t be missed when visiting a French Christmas market is a cheesy tartiflette, which originates from Savoie. It’s a mix of real comforting ingredients: potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons, onions, and herbs. 

 

Those with a sweet tooth can whip up a batch of homemade waffles smothered in melted chocolate, just like you’ll find at the Arras Christmas market. Other family favorites include beignets (a mini doughnut), macarons d’Amiens (an almond and honey cake), and gâteau battu (a brioche-like cake shaped like a chef’s hat).

Don’t forget to share a toast with a glass of gently spiced mulled wine, or vin chaud as it’s known in France. 

French market at Christmas time

Some of the standout French Christmas markets to head to are:

  • Colmar
  • Strasbourg
  • Amiens
  • Reims
  • Metz
  • Montbeliard
  • Lille
  • Avignon

Check them out, and make a note of the ones you want to head to next winter!

Le Sapin De Noël

Christmas tree

In France, a Christmas tree is called “un sapin de noël” or “un arbre de noël.” 

Strasbourg is said to be the birthplace of the festive tree. A fir tree is chosen because it doesn’t shed its leaves, a symbol of hope and eternal life. This tree was originally covered in red apples and lights and stood in front of Churches as a symbol of Christ. 

Many homes quickly adopted this tradition and would decorate their trees with apples and biscuits. However, one year there was a shortage of apples. To avert the crisis, glass-blowers created decorative versions of them, and that is how the Christmas bauble was invented!  

To create the perfect French-themed tree, decorate using ribbons, candles, and baubles, and place a star at the very top. 

If you want to go one step further, you can place your shoes under the tree (or by the fireplace) on Christmas eve instead of hanging stockings. It’s tradition for French children to do this in the hopes that Père Noël (Santa) will fill them with gifts. 

Spread the love like Père Noël

Christmas letter writing

Did you know that in France, it is illegal for a letter to Santa to go ignored?

That’s right.

In 1962, France passed a law stating that all letters to Père Noël must be responded to with a postcard. Isn’t that beautiful? All those handwritten letters from children are saved from ending up in bins and storage boxes. 

Christmas is traditionally a time of giving and receiving, so how about giving to those less fortunate than you this year? 

You could volunteer to respond to children’s letters to Santa or donate food and gifts to a local shelter. Bake some French Christmas treats and give them out along with blankets and sleeping bags to homeless people in your local community.

This year has been a tough one for all of us, but Christmas is all about family, love, and compassion. Let’s end the year on a high and spread the Christmas cheer.

Enjoy a beautiful log fire

Christmas socks by the fire

Long ago in France, it’s said that a large log would be carried into the home on the eve of Christmas, sprinkled with red wine to make it smell nice (plenty leftover for you to enjoy), then left burning all night long. 

Yule logs made of Cherry Wood are always a firm favorite across French homes. 

There’s something about an open fire that feels so wintery, cozy, and festive. You might even want to make some mulled wine or hot cocoa, slip into some snuggly clothes and relax as the warmth fills your soul. 

The perfect stocking stuffers

Christmas stocking

Whether you’re filling shoes or stockings, it doesn’t matter! What really counts is what’s inside. 

What better way to celebrate Christmas like the French than by stocking up on some French beauty products? 

Our Long-Lasting Matte Lipstick Duo Pack in classic red is the perfect shade to see any woman right through the holiday season. Think Réveillon, Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve, and everything in between. And if red is too bold for you, there are plenty of tamer shades to choose from. 

No French woman can do without some classic French mascara in her beauty bag. Why not pick up the legendary Cabaret Première Classic French Mascara—promising natural volume and definition in one swoosh. 

How to celebrate Réveillon in style

Christmas dinner spread

In the US, Christmas dinner on December 25th tends to be the pinnacle Christmas meal. But the French like to do things a little differently.

The holiday season’s biggest meal is traditionally eaten around midnight on Christmas Eve, known as le Réveillon. Starters often include delicacies like foie gras, oysters, or escargots. The main course is usually roast goose or turkey. And the meal is completed with the bûche de Noël (Yule Log). There’s always plenty of wine on hand too.

Doesn’t Christmas dinner in France sound amazing?

If you’ve never done this before, why not mix things up this year and prepare a feast for Christmas Eve. It’s a perfect way to get into the French Christmas feels.

Sweet treats to indulge in

Holiday pastry

What I love most about the way the French do Christmas is their celebration of all things sweet.

One of the most noteworthy facts about Christmas in France is their tradition (in some regions) of eating a grand total of 13 different desserts! 

Yes. You read that right. 

Here are a few of the standout sweet treats to try


Chocolate Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) Cake

A French pastry chef invented this in the late 1800s. Traditionally, it’s a Genoise sponge layered with buttercream and shaped into a log. It’s then topped with some beautiful decorations like meringue mushrooms or even a fresh cutting of holly. 


Classic French Marrons Glacés (Candied Chestnuts)

These are a popular holiday treat in France and will fill your home with a deliciously sweet aroma. They take a few days to prepare, but they're definitely worth it.


Chocolat Chaud

This is hot chocolate, but it's not just any hot chocolate. This is probably the most decadent hot chocolate you’ll ever drink! Made with melted chocolate, warm milk, topped with whipped cream, and maybe some marshmallows for extra fun—the perfect companion to an open fire. 


Celebrate the Fête des Rois

Fête des Rois

Fête des Rois (known as Epiphany in the US) is celebrated on January 6th. This marks the official end to Christmas in France.

Baking and eating a galette des rois (king cake) is a tradition. This is a delicious flaky pastry filled with frangipane (almond cream). Hidden inside the pastry is a fève (a small baby figurine). Whoever is lucky enough to get the piece with the fève becomes the King or Queen for the day.

This is such a popular tradition that most French bakeries sell the cakes with a paper crown.   

And why not?

We are all Queens in our own way. Let’s celebrate that more this year!

And that is how to do Christmas like the French do. Enjoy weaving a bit of French wonder and magic into your holiday season.  

Wishing you all a beautiful French Christmas, wherever in the world you’re celebrating this year.


Joyeux Noël!

Next to read
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    8
How to Use a Makeup Sponge
June 05, 2021
How to Use a Makeup Sponge

Is a makeup sponge part of your beauty toolkit? For us, it’s a must-have! Makeup blenders, in particular, are a fairly recent innovation that has had a big impact.  French girls have totally fallen in love with makeup blender sponges because, when used damp, they give a glowy finish that’s integral for achieving natural-looking makeup in seconds.  Whether you only apply a touch of concealer once in a while or you like a full foundation and contour makeup look, using a makeup sponge correctly will help up your makeup game. In this post, we’ll focus on a more French approach to using a makeup blender, with tips for simplistic makeup that’ll help your skin look naturally radiant.  First, we’ll give you a quick overview of the different types of makeup sponges, and then we’ll provide tips for using them depending on the products you like.  Types of makeup sponges There are two major types of makeup sponges to choose from, so let’s quickly summarize the details you should know about them.  Makeup blender sponges   When we hear the word makeup sponge, the first thing that comes to mind is a round, reusable sponge, much like the original Beauty Blender and the other sponges inspired by it. These sponges are meant to be used damp to apply and blend complexion makeup. You wash them with soap and water after every use. You can use the same sponge again the next time you do your makeup.  These reusable sponges are fantastic for complexion makeup. They blend away streaks and harsh lines, and because they’re damp, they don’t absorb your foundation. The water in the sponge helps add more moisture and glow to the foundation, contributing to a healthier and more natural finish.    Disposable sponges   Before blenders became standard in all of our makeup kits, many women were using disposable sponges to do their makeup. They were usually wedge shapes, but occasionally you could also come across flat sponges. They were never especially popular in French beauty since French women preferred to use their fingers to apply their makeup.  Some brands market their wedge sponges as reusable. In practice, they’re usually flimsier and more likely to harbor bacteria compared to makeup blender sponges, so while you might be able to wash and reuse them, we don’t recommend keeping them around for long.  These days, many makeup artists still use disposable wedges. They can just throw them away instead of having to carefully sanitize a reusable sponge for their next client. They work well in a pinch, although their smaller size and straight edges mean that getting a seamless blend takes a little longer.  How to use a makeup sponge for foundation makeup   This is the French approach to using a makeup blender for natural-looking makeup. It works whether you use a foundation or a product with lighter coverage like tinted moisturizers or BB cream.  Always start with clean and very well-moisturized skin. If you want, you can even use your sponge to apply your skincare steps!  Next, soak your sponge with water until it doubles in size, and then wring out the excess, so it’s damp but not dripping.  Dispense your cream or liquid foundation makeup on the back of your hand. The heat from your skin will help warm it up so it’ll glide more easily.  Dip the sponge into the makeup on your hand.  Start with the area of your face where you would like the most coverage, and gently bounce the sponge over your skin.  Never drag the sponge over your skin since that can leave visible streaks.  Use overlapping bouncing motions to spread your foundation and to give your skin a seamless, poreless blend.  If it looks like you’ve overapplied makeup to any part of your face, use one of the sponge’s clean sides to blot away the excess and to prevent a cakey look.  Applying concealer with a sponge   Many French women use concealer instead of foundation since they can just dab it where they’d like to even out their skin tone a little. Getting a concealer to blend into bare skin isn’t always easy, but with a makeup sponge, it’s a piece of cake! It’s best to apply concealer directly to the area that needs the added coverage, either with a brush, a finger, or the applicator that comes with your concealer. Then, use the clean, pointed end of your damp sponge to blend out the concealer into the rest of the skin so it becomes truly undetectable.   Using a makeup sponge for blush and contour   Powders aren’t especially popular in French beauty because they can leave the skin looking too matte and dry. Instead, cream blushes, bronzers, highlighters, and contour makeup are much more common.  Using a sponge blends out those colorful, precise complexion products in a way that gives them a skin-like finish.  As with concealer, it’s best to first dab the product on the skin, concentrating on the areas where you want it to be more saturated.  For blush, that means the apples of the cheeks, while for contour or bronzer, it usually means below the cheekbone and along the temples.  Using a clean side of the sponge, gently tap over them to blend, and add a bit of a dragging motion if you also want to distribute the product further out.  Finally, if you think your blush or contour is a little too dark or vibrant, you can actually dip the sponge into a bit of your foundation and concealer and then bounce it over the makeup. It’ll help to soften the blush, as though it’s emanating from within your skin.   Soak it up When you use it correctly, a sponge is the ultimate makeup aid. No other tool can blend things quite so seamlessly for natural-looking makeup every time. Use it damp, and that added moisture will help you realize all of your French beauty fantasies! 

Warm Weather Makeup Essentials
May 30, 2021
Warm Weather Makeup Essentials

Everyone looks forward to the summer, don’t they? It’s the time of ditching all those winter layers, heading off on vacation, lazing by the pool, soaking up the sunshine, eating ice cream, and watching the sunset in all its glorious colors.  But if there’s one thing we don’t love about the warmer weather, it’s what it does to our makeup! Finding the right makeup for hot weather can be a real struggle. If you don’t know what products to use, the high temperatures and humidity will make applying your makeup a challenge. To top things off, it can quickly melt off your face in minutes once you walk out the door.  While you can’t control the weather, you can control the makeup you put on your face. And there are plenty of tips to help you look your best during the warmer weather.  Here are some great summer makeup tips you need to know, so you can be ten steps ahead when the sunshine finally says hey. Prep is key When the weather is hot, it’s essential that you properly prep your skin before even thinking of putting makeup anywhere near it. This is because when you have the right base, your makeup will sit nicely on your skin and last longer. So, what do you need to do? Be sure to thoroughly cleanse your face and neck in the morning with your favorite cleanser. This will help remove any oil or perspiration before you start applying your skincare and makeup. And remember, prep really begins the night before. Make sure you’re removing your makeup at the end of the day, cleansing and toning your face, and applying a good night cream to replenish and nourish your skin while you sleep.  This way, you’ll wake up with less work to do and set yourself up for success.   Use an oil-free moisturizer There are two main types of moisturizers out there: 1. Water-based moisturizers2. Oil-based moisturizers Oil-based moisturizers are great for people who tend to suffer from dry skin. However, even if that’s you, when it’s warm, your body will perspire and produce more oils than it usually does. Chances are, you won’t need as much hydration as you do in the colder months.  This means you can swap out your oil-based moisturizer for a water-based one. This will reduce the amount of oil and shine on your face, and help your makeup stay firmly in place throughout the day.   Add SPF Of all the summer makeup tips on the list, this one is paramount.  Aside from sunburn, the sun can do real long-lasting damage to our skin over time if we don’t protect it properly. That means wearing SPF (at least factor 25) every day underneath your makeup is the best thing to do.  And try not to let this slide once the weather cools down again. Ideally, you should be wearing SPF every time your outside for long, because even if you can’t see the sun, it’s still there! Many women skip sunscreen because it adds another step to their already hectic morning routine. But the great news is, there are so many skincare products on the market today that have SPF added into them, so you can save time and protect your skin.  So if you’re looking to save time and create a simpler summer makeup routine, look out for products like this.  Invest in a primer Primer is a must for the warmer weather. It’s light, easy to apply, and will really help your makeup stay in place the whole day. Apply a thin layer of your favorite primer after your moisturizer, and before you add any makeup.  Wear less makeup If you want to completely avoid your makeup from creasing, caking, and sliding in the warmer weather, you’re better off wearing as little makeup as possible! We can give you all the tips in the world to help your makeup stay in place, but there’s only so much you can do to prevent this from happening. So if you want to avoid the hassle altogether, try stripping down your makeup routine to the bare essentials.  When it’s hot, you don’t want to cover your face in products because your skin will struggle to breathe. If you still want some coverage, try a BB or CC cream or a tinted moisturizer. If you have stubborn dark circles or pigmentation, and you just can’t ditch your concealer, opt for a waterproof version instead.  Less is more ladies! Use a waterproof version of your favorite mascara If there’s one thing we can’t leave the house without, it’s a coat of mascara. But the last thing you want is to have panda eyes by lunchtime! That’s why waterproof mascara is one of the makeup essentials for summer. It won’t smudge or budge an inch and will keep you looking fresh-faced and bright-eyed all day long. Plus, it’s the perfect companion if you enjoy swimming or dipping in the ocean while on vacay.  The only snag is it’s a little more difficult to remove at the end of the day, but the right makeup remover will do the trick, and if you ask us, it’s totally worth it!  Less shine, more glow When it’s hot and humid, your t-zone is likely to take the brunt of it. But a greasy, shiny forehead is not a look any of us want!  This is where blotting papers become your new best friend. They’re inexpensive and super simple to use. Keep a small pack of them in your handbag, so you can eliminate shine throughout the day. If you want to re-apply your makeup, blot your face first, then go for it.  Swap lipstick for a lighter lip gloss The summer months call for a more subtle, dewy look, so why not try swapping your regular matte lipstick for a lighter shaded gloss? This will add moisture and just a hint of color which you can layer up as you like.  We swear by this volumizing lip gloss for soft, plump & kissable lips.  Invest in a mist with SPF Did you know that you’re meant to reapply SPF every 2 hours if you’re continually out in the sun? Nobody has time (or the patience) for that. Plus, reapplying sunscreen on top of your makeup is a recipe for disaster.  Don’t worry, we’ve found a workaround! Stock up on a refreshing setting spray or mist that comes with the SPF you’re looking for.  One spritz and you’re beach ready. Remember: less is more!  Of all the summer makeup tips out there, the most important one is to remember that less really is more.  And the less time you spend applying your makeup, the more time you’ll have to sunbathe at the beach and soak up the gorgeous rays!

Summertime Makeup Ideas
May 19, 2021
Summertime Makeup Ideas

  As the weather starts getting warmer, we’re ready to change up our look! For us, timeless summer looks have to be a little lighter and softer, as opposed to the darker colors we favored in the winter.  However, just because we prefer a more natural summer makeup look, doesn’t mean we’re giving up on any of the beauty or glamour. Makeup for hot weather shouldn’t feel heavy, but it can still pack a punch.  That’s why we’ve selected our favorite summer makeup looks for 2021. Have a look at the photos to get inspired, and then follow our tips so you can try these makeup looks for yourself.  Glowy and natural    To start, let’s talk about natural summer makeup looks that help you feel cool and refreshed no matter how hot it gets outside. This stunning look is ideal for daytime, with a focus on healthy, glowy skin and bright, vivacious eyes.  To achieve this look, start with a good canvas of well-prepped skin. Don’t skimp on moisturizer and sunscreen, especially if you’ll be spending any time under the sun. Use just a hint of tinted moisturizer to even out the skin tone, and then build up layers of bronzer and highlighter for that sunkissed, glowy look. If you don’t have a liquid highlighter on hand, a dab of shimmery gloss can totally do the trick!   To make the eyes pop, frame them with a lengthening Vivienne Sabó mascara. The newest addition to our mascara collection, the Polynésie Francaise is ideal, because it offers natural length with water-resistant and non-flaking formula. Finally, fill in your brows, and then brush them up for that fluffy look. Our Brow Arcade pencil comes with a comb on the end, so it’s perfect for the job.  Feeling pink    If you’d like to have a bit of fun with your eye makeup without necessarily spending ages on eyeshadow, get inspired by this makeup look! Pops of color are going to be everywhere in 2021. A swipe of pink along the lash line is a great way to rock the trend without feeling silly or overdone. This look isn’t quite as glowy as the previous one we showcased, but otherwise, the two are quite similar, with a more natural vibe. Just use a slightly more dramatic Vivienne Sabó mascara, like the volumizing Provocation. Finish things off with a dose of a more pigmented pink lip gloss, like our Le Grand Volume in Raspberry, to match the eyes.  Nude glam This is one of those timeless summer looks for the evening. It’s elegant and polished, with a refined glamour that’s never in danger of looking like too much. This kind of nude glam look is fitting for any occasion, including a day at the office or a night at the opera.  Because the colors used in this look are natural, it’s possible to slightly amp up the intensity of both the eyes and the lips. For the eyes, a shimmery champagne shade is ideal for the lids while brown eyeshadow helps to contour the crease. Finally, a soft Feutre Fin wing is essential for framing the eyes, along with a few coats of mascara.  To give the lips that glossy fullness, the secret is to first use a warm nude lip pencil to contour the lips. Then, a coating of our Polynesie Francais gloss in Tahiti completes the look with a radiant sheen.  Soft and smokey    If you want smoldering makeup for hot weather, a soft smokey eye is our favorite. It’s an alluring and irresistible look with a lot of sex appeal. Because it relies on brown eyeshadows, it doesn’t have the heaviness of a black smokey eye. As with all of our favorite summer makeup looks for 2021, the base here is also natural, soft, and incredibly glowy. The eyes are the focus, of course, so apply a soft, shimmery brown to bring out the lids.  Then, in the crease, apply a medium brown shade that’s just a little darker than your skin tone. Use that same color all along your lower lash line, to create that smokey effect. Finally, use a darker brown shade to deepen the outer corner of the eye and the crease.  To finish things off, apply your liquid liner in a very thin line, right along both the top and bottom lash lines. Finally, apply a generous coat of Vivienne Sabó mascara, and a light dab of nude gloss on the lips.  Peachy keen   A softer way of adding color to your summer eye makeup is to use peach! The vibrant color looks incredibly natural against the skin and adds a touch of warmth that’s perfect for the season. It’s universally flattering, and because of its orange base, it really makes blue eyes pop.  This monochrome look is a great way of making this color work! There’s no need for eyeliner—just a swipe of peach over the lids and across the cheekbones. A coat or two of mascara and a touch of warm lipstick like our Matte Constance in Warm Pink finish the look.  Summer night glam    Red lipstick fits every season. It’s elegant and eye-catching, so it’s perfect for a classy summer soirée or romantic dinner date. In true French beauty fashion, this timeless summer look also features a subtle black wing and perfectly groomed brows.  To make this work for you, choose a red lipstick with rich depth, like our Matte Constance in Classic Red. A dab of gloss only at the center of the lips adds a reflective touch that makes the lips look a little bigger and fits in well with summer 2021 trends.  Bringing the heat The best season of the year is just around the corner, and with these makeup looks, we’ll be bringing the heat! Sure, there’s no reason why you can’t wear these timeless summer looks during other seasons, but to us, they perfectly capture everything Vivienne Sabó loves about the warmest season. They’re light, fresh, and timelessly beautiful.