French winter traditions at our residential centre, Le Moulin aux Draps

11 Jan 2023, 10:23 by Rachel Lewis

How we celebrate winter in the Pas-de-Calais region of Northern France

There’s a reason why winter is the festival season. As the long nights draw in, many cultures, religions and local communities celebrate customs and traditions to bring light and cheer into the darkness.

As part of the local community, our team at Le Moulin Aux Draps have the inside knowledge of French winter traditions and have incorporated elements into our programme to create a range of truly authentic seasonal French school trips.

Read on for more on how we celebrate winter at Le Moulin and our magical winter school trip programme.

As winter draws in…

In some regions, including the Pas-de-Calais, the feast of Saint Nicolas is celebrated on 6th December. On the eve of his feast day, good boys and girls leave out shoes in the hope that Saint Nicolas will fill them with sweet treats. For the naughty ones, a stick is all they are left with. 

Christmas is traditionally celebrated with a feast late on 24th December. From the verb réveiller (to wake up), Le Réveillon is a huge feast that continues until the early hours of Christmas morning. Our Christmas and Wintersports Festival offers a traditional Réveillon De Noël for students to enjoy the French festive foods (although earlier in the evening!).

And of course, a December school trip to France is not complete without a trip to one of the magical Christmas markets. In the heart of Lille, aromas of roasted chestnuts and spicy gingerbread fill the air as local craftspeople and artists offer their wares.

Bringing in the new year

As we move into January, la fête de Saint Sylvestre on 31st December is another feast of treats and delicious foods. It is a time for friends and loved ones to see in le jour de l’An and make those resolutions and promises for the year ahead.

A similar celebration awaits strudents on our New Year & Wintersports Festival. Three days and two nights of seasonal activities including a full day's ski, throughout January at Le Moulin.

It’s carnival time!

Widely celebrated across France, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) marks the end of feasting before the Christian fasting period of Lent. The run up to Mardi Gras sees one of the most unique Pas-de-Calais celebrations - Le Carnaval de Dunkerque!

With dancing and revelling from January to March, this tradition dates to the 17th Century when parties were held by shipowners before sailors left for months to fish for cod.

While the bands play on in Dunkerque, the traditional waffles, or gauffres, are cooked to use up the supply of eggs and butter which would traditionally not be eaten during Lent.

Student stays at Le Moulin in February will enjoy these tasty treats and learn about other Easter traditions while soaking up the carnival atmosphere as part of our Mardi Gras & Wintersports Festival.

Experience traditional French festivities at our Opal Coast residential centre

Perfectly located less than an hour from Calais, Le Moulin Aux Draps is ideal for short French stays or those first school trips abroad.  With our experience and dedicated team in France, we create exciting and memorable school trips, jam-packed with cultural activities, local visits and learning opportunities to make the most of the season.

Discover our seasonal school trips to the Opal Coast here

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