Saint Nicolas is the patron saint of boatmen or marinier as the French bargees are known. St Nicolas day is December 6th and the residents of the Port of Roanne in central France celebrated it in style. A “fete” traditionally focused around children and a foretaste of Christmas. This year Saint Nicolas arrived by boat, gliding across the dark and icy waters of the marina and stepped ashore to distribute sweets and biscuits to the assembled children (of all ages). Well into my second childhood (and second helping) I especially loved the Papillottes a local Roannaise Christmas speciality made with chocolate.
Carols were sung in English by a very international choir, there are at least ten nationalities represented, wintering over in the port this year. An Alsacian folklore dance group came and entertained us with traditional dance, costume & music from a region where the St. Nicolas is a very popular fete. The whole affaire was rounded off with much appreciated hot mulled wine and everyone agreeing that the festive season had commenced for real.