Here are my favorite French Christmas ornaments for Francophiles. Christmas holidays are fast approaching! And if you’re setting up your Christmas tree soon, here is my selection of the best French Christmas ornaments to get your tree ready the French way. Plus everything you’ve always wanted to know about decorations and ornaments the French use, and French traditions for Christmas.
If you can’t make it to Paris this Christmas, little touches of French Christmas decor can help bring the joie de vivre home to you. So let’s get to my list of top French Christmas decorations and Paris Christmas ornaments for Francophiles.
What Decorations Do The French Use For Christmas?
The French call a Christmas tree “un Sapin de Noël” or “un arbre de Noël”. In France, the Christmas tree first appeared in Alsace in 1521. The Alsatian Christmas trees were decorated with natural and edible products such as apples, candies, dried cakes in the shape of characters, nuts, pine cones, and also ribbons and colored papers.
Today, there is an extensive range of ornaments available in Christmas markets and department stores. If the most expensive ones are made of glass, the cheapest ones are in plastic. For decorating their Christmas trees, the French usually use 5 different ornaments:
- Christmas baubles (les boules de Noël)
- Lametta (silver or gold fringes that evoke angels’ hair, in French: les cheveux d’ange)
- Tinsel (les guirlandes)
- Fairy lights (les guirlandes lumineuses)
- Fake Candles (des bougies pour sapin de Noël)
Finally, the French traditionally place a golden star on the top of the tree (Christmas tree topper or une étoile in French), symbolizing the Bethlehem star. The star also represents the one which the three Wise Men followed to find the baby Jesus.
When Do The French Set Up Their Christmas Tree?
According to the Catholic tradition, a Christmas tree should not be put up before Christmas Eve (on the 24th of December). And it should be taken down twelve days after Christmas (on the Epiphany).
However, in reality, there is no fixed date. Indeed, most French households have their French Christmas tree set up by about the 15th of December (and even the 1st) and street decorations are usually up from the first Sunday of Advent. Advent wreaths (Couronnes de l’Avent) are also common in France, they are made up of fir and pine tree branches for the first Sunday of Advent. Finally, fresh trees are much more popular in France than fake trees made of plastic (personally, I love the scent of a fresh tree).
French-Inspired Christmas Tree Ornaments And Decorations
1. Christmas Baubles
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2. Christmas Tree Toppers
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And you, how do you decorate your Christmas tree? I would love to have your thoughts! Please add your comment below.
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Bonjour! I’m Leonce, I’m French and I’m a Parisian expat currently living in the city center of Amsterdam (I previously lived in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, on the Ile-Saint-Louis). I created Leonce Chenal back in 2018 when I was living in London and missing my home country way too much. Because I truly believe you don’t have to be French or to live in France to experience the French art de vivre, Leonce Chenal is a French digital magazine to help you live your French life, wherever you are. Enjoy <3