Saturday, November 4, 2017

You're Invited: Thanksgiving in France 2017

Because I totally live to please you guys, once again I've rounded up a great selection of Thanksgiving celebrations here in the South of France and in Paris. Who attends these gala soirées? The local expat community of course, but also French friends and other Europeans, travelers, house guests and, in one case, invited members of the American military stationed in the area. All nationalities are wanted and welcome!

Over the years, many of my French friends have told me they love the idea of celebrating this very-American meet new people, to sample unusual foods, to learn the holiday traditions. At a friend's Thanksgiving in Provence a few years back, the Frenchman to my left said he loved how the various dishes were served all at once, all on one plate, rather than in courses. Another said he was looking forward to his first taste of cranberry sauce, which he called red fruits jam

While the literal translation is Action de Grâce, most French just call it Thanksgiving...except for my friend Philippe who refers to it as Merci Donnant, which he says "means absolutely nothing at all." 

If you plan to be in Paris for the holiday rather than down south, I've included a couple celebrations there, including one built around a cooking class.

And for those of you hosting Thanksgivings in France this year or sharing in the food prep, I've provided two great sources for all your ingredients including fresh cranberries, canned pumpkin, pecan pies and of course, the big juicy bird.

If you're hosting or know of a Thanksgiving celebration that's not listed here, email me the info ( and I'll happily add it.

And finally, while we're on the subject, I'm sending a very heartfelt thank you to all of you: for reading and supporting my blog...for sharing it with your friends....for commenting on the stories you particularly enjoy. I wish you all the most joyous and delicious Merci Donnant, wherever you plan to spend it!


*The American Club of the Riviera's Thanksgiving is a gala, annual affair...large, elegant and extremely popular. This year it's at the historic Hotel Negresco in Nice on Thursday Nov. 23, starting with a 12:30 Champagne reception under the cupola of the stunning Galerie Royale, followed by a traditional feast of turkey and trimmings.  Prior to the luncheon (at noon and 12:15 pm), the hotel is offering short guided tours of the lobby and its famous art, collected over the years by Madame Jeanne Augier, whose family has owned the hotel since 1957.  This year's special military guest will be Major William Connors, Liaison Officer between the US and French Army, and his wife Sarah. For those who'd like to take this opportunity to join the ACR, there's a special 14-month membership being offered. Book quickly as this even always sells out; 180 people are expected and it's first come, first served with priority going to member families. Last call for reservation payments is November 16th. All the info is on the ACR website here.  

*MonacoUSA will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner at StarsNBars (Monaco) on Thursday Nov. 23, starting at 7 pm. Seating is family style at communal tables. The menu? Stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce, peas, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob and cornbread. Desserts will be apple tart, pecan pie and brownies. Cost: 50€ members, 55€ non members, 25€ for kids under 12. To reserve:


* My great friend Jon Chiri, an American chef with 20 years experience working in Provence, has just taken over the cooking school at Les Halles, the wonderful indoor food market in Avignon. (Jon ran the popular Le Marmiton cooking school at the nearby Hotel La  Mirande for many years.) This is a brand new enterprise for Jon--he hasn't even posted his offerings or pricing online yet--but he does have a name: Cuisine Centr'Halles. On Thursday Nov. 23, Jon invites you to join his family for a special holiday lunch at Les Halles from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm; choose from a Thanksgiving Plat du Jour (turkey with Jon's version of accoutrements) for 20€...or 25€ with pumpkin pie. Wine will be extra; final menu details are still to come. To reserve or be added to Jon's mailing list:

* The Anglo-American Group of Provence once again welcomes the community to celebrate Thanksgiving in Aix "with a spirit of appreciation for all that we share." The party is Sunday, Nov. 26 at 4 pm (aperitif) and 5 pm (dinner) at Restaurant Le Verguetier, 7 chemin d'Eguilles in Celony (Aix), across from the Maison de Ste-Victoire. The'll have all the traditional foods: turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Cost: 29€ members, 10€ for their kids under 12; 36€ for non-member guests and 18€ for their kids under 12. To book: Please specify number of adults and kids, write a check payable to AAGP and send it to Mari-Luz Saboui, 25 Chemin de Masse, 13710 Fuveau. Checks must be received by Nov 20. Questions? Email to:

Biocoop - La Coumpagnie in Aix will host two Thanksgivings on Thursday Nov. 23. The first is a lunch which owner Rick Harrison says is "mostly for our curious French clientele - and it's always our biggest lunch turnout of the year!" The lunch will be less than 20€ pp.  (To reserve, see below.) Then comes the main event: a dinner starting at 7:30 pm. "We have a wide diversity of Americans, French and English people excited to attend," Rick says. As they did last year, the Marseille Chapter of Democrats Abroad will have their own space at the event and 40 to 50 of their members are likely to attend.  The meal will be 100% organic, 0% GMOs and 100% homemade from American family recipes! The evening starts with spiced wine and appetizers (stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs), then moves on to turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole (with cream of mushroom soup...yes!), pumpkin and pecan pies and a classic cheesecake. Prices are 27 € adults and 19 € kids under 12; wine and beer are available for purchase. Reservations required for both lunch and dinner: +33 (0)6 81 34 85 74, 

* Near Forcalquier, the restaurant Le Bistrot de Pierrerue in Pierrerue celebrates its annual Thanksgiving on Friday Nov. 24 at 8 pm. On the menu: an amuse bouche, brined and roasted turkey with dressing (made from bio sausage and chestnuts), homemade gravy and cranberry chutney, mashed potatoes, roasted local Brussels sprouts,  pumpkin pie, apple crumble, chocolate pumpkin-seed torte and vanilla ice cream. Price is 25€ per person, without drinks. To book: +33 (0)4 92 75 33, 00,

*At the restaurant L'Epicerie de Cecile in Beaucaire, chef/owner Cécile Guillo is all fired up to serve her two annual Thanksgiving fêtes: a dinner for the general public and a lunch for members and guests of the Avignon Chapter of Democrats Abroad.  You can attend either but the DA one is almost full up...just a couple spots left. The public dinner is Thursday Nov. 23 and seating is communal at large tables for 12. Price: 28€ for a three-course dinner with wine and live music. (To reserve for the public dinner, contact the restaurant directly: +33 (o)6 80 04 09 04.) The Democrats Abroad lunch is Sunday Nov. 26 at 12:30 pm. The price is €23 but wine and drinks are extra. To reserve for the DA lunch:


There seem to be more and more Thanksgiving celebrations in Paris each year, ranging from the very-casual one at the Hard Rock Cafe to the very-posh one at Ralph's, the restaurant in Ralph Lauren's elaborately appointed store on the Blvd. St.-Germain.  A good list of this year's offerings is here

* If you want to join a group rather than do your own thing in a Parisian restaurant, sign up for Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday Nov 22 with the American University Clubs of FranceFor the 2nd year, they're partnering with the famous Ladurée, known for elegant sweets since 1862, and will be dining in one of Maison Ladurée’s private salons with views on the Champs Elysées. You can have a drink there before but the evening officially starts at 7:30 in the restaurant, which is privatized for the occasion. Everyone gets a small gift to take home. Prices range from €60 to €75 pp and all the info is on the site hereQuestions?

If you can't decide whether to cook at home or go out, the cooking school La Cuisine Paris has the perfect solution for you: a Thanksgiving cooking class (in English)...followed by everyone eating lunch or dinner together overlooking the Seine. Timing is either 10 am to 2 pm or 4 pm to 8 pm on Thursday Nov. 23;  the price is 160€ pp for lunch or dinner. For more info or to reserve: +33 (0)1 40 51 78 18,


The Paris shop called Thanksgiving sells a wide range of American foods year round, in person and online, so of course they're the Parisian's go-to for Thanksgiving supplies. But they also stock Canadian, British and Mexican products, too. And now, with new owners, there's an even-greater selection of products as well as a slightly new look to the store. (My sweet contact there, Gemma, says you should definitely pop in and say bonjour!) Orders are being taken now for fresh turkeys, homemade pecan and pumpkin pies and all the other ingredients you need, including Libby's canned 100% pure pumpkin. They also sell hard-to-find kitchen accessories (cheesecloth, roasting bags, pie plates, etc.). Note: Please be sure your online Thanksgiving orders are in by November 18. The store website is here and the online ordering site is here. Thanksgiving is located at 20 rue St. Paul, 75004 Paris, +33 (0)1 42 77 68 29, sells pretty much everything you need to prepare your holiday feast, except the turkey: they sell cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, cornbread mix, stuffing, gravy, corn syrup and more. They also have ingredients and treats for other holidays, too, such as eggnog and candy canes. They are 100% online and will deliver anywhere in Europe. You can order right up until noon on November 22nd and get your goodies shipped to you in France on Thanksgiving Day! "But then you'd need to be a very efficient chef!" Caitlin at the company says with a laugh. Specific Thanksgiving foods are on a special page here.

Above: The much-loved, often-parodied painting is Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want" from 1942. Everyone in it was a Rockwell family member or friend; they were photographed individually and painted into the scene. Learn more about the painting and artist here.