With the murky skies of January, and snowed-in days of February behind us, now Is the time to start thinking about your next fabulous get together – and I can’t emphasise enough that this lovely part of the world provides the perfect setting whatever you wish to celebrate. What’s more, I am a firm believer that it need not be stressful, nor cost you a fortune, to go all out and enjoy a memorable gathering, from a perfect intimate dinner party to a wedding or fête on a large scale.
We all know how lovely it is to be eating on a sun soaked terrace or outside on a balmy evening, so don’t make it a big deal to invite people over and turn it into a meal to remember. Use the barbeque as a brazier to provide warmth if needed and light as many candles as you can. Crack open – and try a new – local wine. Take advantage of our local fare; try the foie gras nearest you, or buy some marinated olives from the market for no fuss nibbles. Don’t attempt fancy dishes or boring burgers, just marinate some chicken thighs and they can be done in the oven first and finished on the Barbeque. Make some big salads, serve only one nice local cheese, and don’t forget big crusty bread and a tart from the bakery – voila, a no fuss local feast.
For Weddings, birthdays or even business meetings with a difference, there are a wealth of castles or fabulous properties that can be rented as gites, thus providing a venue and accommodation - not to mention copious amounts of crockery etc - in one go. (Nb, if you have a fabulous place of your own, there is often no need for a marquee in case of rain, you would be surprised at how many people can be seated in a cleared out room or barn.)
Spit roasts or barbeques provided by a caterer can not only be a comparatively cheaper way to feed a hoard, it can also give a focus and a festive air to a reception. A caterer should be able to provide as much or as little as you wish, so if you want to source your favourite cheese/coffee/ aunt-sallys-banoffi-pie as part of the meal you can do so. It is well worth it, however, to pay out on staff to serve so that you can relax and enjoy your event.
Don’t forget that tables and benches can often be borrowed from your local mairie, purchase flowers from the market to be put in jam jars, use white sheets as tablecloths if necessary and don’t forget as many of those candles as you can again… Set against the warm stone architecture and the beauty of our local countryside, this all adds up to a film-set vision of a party to remember.
So, now that we can walk up our muddy driveways again without completely ruining our heels, why not gather together with friends family and celebrate all the reasons we enjoy living here so much – good food, good wine, some sun, and most importantly the time to share it with others.
Rosie Paddon, Caterer and Events organiser both in France and abroad. www.partyinfrance.co.uk