French Christmas Conversation (Translation & Audio Pronunciation)

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Listen to my audio recordings of a French Christmas conversation: listen to my enunciated and modern spoken pronunciation and learn about Christmas in France.

This Christmas conversation in French and English comes with audio recordings. Please press on the audio players to listen to my slower enunciated French recording and then to the more natural, modern spoken French pronunciation.

Authentic French Christmas Conversation

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Slower Enunciated French

Modern Spoken French

Camille et Pierre, un de ses Ă©tudiants, parlent de leurs projets pour les fĂȘtes de fin d’annĂ©es.

Camille and Peter, one of her students, are speaking about their plans for the holidays.

Pierre
Qu’est-ce que vous faites cette annĂ©e, pour les fĂȘtes de fin d’annĂ©es ?

What are you doing this year for the holidays?

Camille
Et bien comme d’habitude, on va fĂȘter NoĂ«l avec la famille d’Olivier.

Well, as usual, we’re spending Christmas with Olivier’s family.

Pierre
Et ta famille ?

What about your family?

Camille
Ma famille n’est pas religieuse, et pour Ă©viter les conflits entre belles-familles, ma mĂšre a dĂ©cidĂ© il y a longtemps qu’on ne cĂ©lĂ©brerait jamais NoĂ«l le 24 ni le 25, mais un autre jour.

My family is not religious, and in order to avoid in-laws conflicts, my mother decided a long time ago that we would never celebrate Christmas on the 24th nor the 25th, but another day.

Pierre
En juin ?

In June?

Camille
Pourquoi pas :-) GĂ©nĂ©ralement, on fĂȘte la Saint Nicolas, le 6 dĂ©cembre. Ma famille est d’origine alsacienne, et c’est la tradition lĂ -bas d’Ă©changer les cadeaux le jour de la Saint Nicolas, et de prĂ©server ainsi le cĂŽtĂ© purement religieux du jour de NoĂ«l.

Why not :-) Usually, we celebrate St Nicholas’ day, on the 6th of December (St Nick is the French Santa). My family originates from Alsace, and it’s the tradition to exchange gifts on St Nicholas’ day over there and to save Christmas day for strictly religious matters.

Pierre
J’aime bien cette idĂ©e.

I like that idea.

Camille
Oui, ça arrange tout le monde. Dans ma belle famille, c’est tout le contraire. NoĂ«l est LA fĂȘte familiale, et on respecte les traditions.

Yes, it makes everybody happy. For my in-laws, it’s exactly the opposite. Christmas is the quintessential family holiday, and they respect traditions.

Pierre
C’est Ă  dire ?

What do you mean?

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Christmas French Conversation – Midnight Mass

Camille
Et bien, traditionnellement en France, on fait un grand repas aprĂšs la messe de minuit, tard dans la nuit, qu’on appelle “le RĂ©veillon”. Mais maintenant, de moins en moins de gens vont Ă  la messe. Alors pour des raisons pratiques, on fĂȘte souvent NoĂ«l le lendemain : les enfants ouvrent les cadeaux le matin, et toute la famille se rĂ©unit pour un dĂ©jeuner de fĂȘte. Dans la famille d’Olivier, on fait les deux.

Well, traditionally in France, we have a big meal after the midnight mass, late into the night, that is called “the awakening”. But nowadays, fewer and fewer people attend the mass. Therefore, for practical reasons, we often celebrate Christmas the day after: Children open the presents in the morning, and the whole family gets together for the holiday luncheon. In Olivier’s family, they celebrate both.

Pierre
Les deux?

Both?

Camille
Ben oui. On se rĂ©unit le 24 au soir, on fait un dĂźner simple mais sympa, et puis quelques fois on va tous ensemble Ă  la messe de NoĂ«l. Moi, je ne suis pas pratiquante, mais c’est plus pour la tradition que j’y vais. Je me souviens de messes de minuit vraiment magiques, avec des crĂšches humaines, des dĂ©filĂ©s d’enfants dĂ©guisĂ©s en anges, de la musique et plein de chants et de bougies partout…

Yes. We get together on the 24th in the evening, we have a simple but nice dinner, and sometimes we all attend Christmas mass. I don’t practice religion, but it’s more for the traditional aspect that I go. I remember really magical midnight mass, with live nativity scenes, parades of children costumed as angels, music and many songs and candles everywhere.

Christmas Conversation in French – The French Christmas Meal

Camille
Et puis c’est le 25 qu’on fait notre rĂ©veillon: on se met sur son 31, on mange du foie gras, des huĂźtres, du saumon fumĂ©, une dinde aux marrons ou un jambon cuit, et en dessert, une bĂ»che de NoĂ«l. Et bien sĂ»r, on boit du bon vin et du champagne.

Then, it’s on the 25th that we do the traditional French Christmas meal: we all dress to the nines, we eat foie gras, oysters, smoked salmon, a turkey with chestnuts or a roasted ham, and for dessert, a yule log. And of course, we drink good wines and champagne.

Pierre
C’est quoi “une bĂ»che” ?

What’s a yule log?

Camille
C’est un gĂąteau en forme de bĂ»che, qui fait rĂ©fĂ©rence Ă  la vieille tradition de faire brĂ»ler une bĂ»che chargĂ©e de symboles pendant 3 jours autour de NoĂ«l. Il y a plein de traditions comme ça, souvent rĂ©gionales, mais qu’on ne respecte plus vraiment aujourd’hui.

It’s a cake shaped like a log (traditional French Christmas cake), which refers to the antique tradition to burn a symbolic log for 3 days around Christmas. There are many traditions like this one, often regional, but that we don’t quite follow any longer nowadays.

Pierre
Et les cadeaux ? Est-ce que Leyla croit au PÚre-Noël ?

What about the presents? Does Leyla believe in Santa?

Camille
Oui, Leyla a 5 ans et c’est une petite fille trĂšs moderne: elle nous a dit l’autre jour qu’elle voulait Ă©crire un email au PĂšre NoĂ«l… Je peux te dire qu’on a bien rigolĂ© !!

Yes, Leyla is 5 and is a very modern little girl: the other day, she told us she wanted to write Santa an email… I can assure you we had quite a laugh!

Pierre
J’imagine !

Yes, I imagine!

French Conversation About Christmas – Presents 🎁

Camille
Enfin, pour les cadeaux, traditionnellement c’est le 25 au matin. Le PĂšre NoĂ«l passe pendant la nuit, et dĂ©pose les cadeaux dans les souliers posĂ©s autour de l’Ăątre. Bon, mais maintenant qu’il n’y a souvent plus de cheminĂ©e dans les maisons ou appartements, on place gĂ©nĂ©ralement les cadeaux sous le sapin. On laisse les enfants ouvrir un ou deux cadeaux le matin, et on attend que la famille arrive pour ouvrir tous les cadeaux… ou quelque chose comme ça… enfin quoi, on s’arrange pour faire plaisir Ă  tout le monde et laisser une place au PĂšre NoĂ«l.
Et toi Pierre, tu fais quoi cette annĂ©e pour les fĂȘtes ?

Then, for the presents, traditionally it’s in the morning of the 25th. Santa comes during the night and leaves the presents in shoes displayed around the hearth. Well, but nowadays since there are no more fireplaces in houses or apartments, presents are usually placed under the Christmas tree. We let the children open one or two presents in the morning, and we wait for the whole family to get here to open all the presents… or something along those lines… in other words, we do our best to please everybody and leave a small place for Santa. What about you Pierre, what are you doing this year for the holidays?

Pierre
Moi, je ne suis pas du tout religieux, alors je pars en vacances pour faire du ski. Et Leyla, elle a des vacances ?

I am not religious at all, so I’m going on a ski trip. What about Leyla? Is she going to be on vacation?

Camille
Oui, comme tous les écoliers, elle a deux semaines de vacances. En général, en France, le 25 décembre et le 1er janvier sont fériés. Mais si ça tombe un jeudi ou un mardi, les Français font le pont.

Yes, like all students, she has a 2 weeks vacation. In general, in France, December 25th and January 1st are official holidays. But if it happens to fall on a Thursday or a Tuesday, then the French take the in-between days off.

Pierre
Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ?

What does it mean?

Camille
Ça signifie qu’on ne travaille pas le vendredi ou le lundi, et on relie le jour fĂ©riĂ© au week-end.

It means we don’t work on Friday or Monday, and ‘bridge’ the holiday to the weekend.

French Christmas Dialogue – Merry Christmas!

Pierre
Ah, d’accord. C’est cool ! Bon, Camille, je vois que c’est bientĂŽt la fin de la leçon, alors je voulais te souhaiter Ă  toi et ta famille un joyeux NoĂ«l et une bonne annĂ©e.

All right. Sweet! OK, Camille, I can see it’s almost the end of the lesson, so I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and happy new year.

Camille
Merci Pierre. Je te souhaite Ă©galement de passer d’excellentes fĂȘtes de fin d’annĂ©es, et que tous tes voeux se rĂ©alisent en 2021.

Thank you, Pierre. I too wish you great holidays as well, and may all your wishes come true in 2021.

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Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 23+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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