the christmas cocktail – final and fourth part

by Sharon Santoni

 Here is the last instalment of the little christmas story that I have been telling you over the past couple of weeks.  Thank you for your patience!

Have to say a big thank you to my family and our friend MT, who all helped me thrash out the ‘plot’ – couldn’t have done it on my own guys, you are stars!


The day after the dinner with Frederic, Mathilde was in early for work.  Being on an A&E ward, irregular hours were just part of the job, but she didn’t mind.  The early morning also meant she could home  sooner, admiring Paris in the snow on her way,  and make the most of a relaxing evening in her flat.


She climbed the stairs, sorting through the mail she had collected from her letter box on the way, and almost didn’t see Madame de la Garenne, who appeared to be waiting for her on the second floor landing.

“Ma cherie, you must tell me all about your dinner with Frederic, was it wonderfully romantic?  I heard you got back very late, did you have a wonderful time,”    Mathilde smiled, she could hardly resent the elderly lady’s curiosity, it was so well-meaning, and before she had time to answer, Madame continued, “in any case, to send you such beautiful flowers, the young man must have enjoyed your company very much indeed”

“Flowers?!   What flowers?”

“Oh my dear, I am sorry, I have spoiled the surprise, but I think I saw a beautiful bouquet being delivered to your door this afternoon….”

Mathilde gave Madame a peck on the cheek and promised to come back down later in the evening to tell her all the details of the evening.  Then she trotted upstairs to investigate the flowers.

There was indeed a huge bouquet outside her door “gracious, maybe a little too much” thought Mathilde, but as she leant over and opened the envelope pinned to the wrapper she understood better.

“A house party?  a new year’s party? at a château in Normandy?  …..”  Mathilde hardly knew what to think, but in any case she had little time to reflect calmly because Madame was already standing beside her.  “Well my dear, isn’t this a wonderful invitation!”  Mathilde raised her eyebrows, “Madame, did you read this already?”

Madame just brushed the question aside, “my darling they must think so highly of you, but tell me what is it they are so grateful for?”

Mathilde laughed, and as she opened the door to her flat, she started telling her neighbour all about the dinner and the ‘incident’ and Madame followed her in quite naturally and settled down to hear the details.

The two friends had already got through a glass of wine when there was a knock at the door.  It was Frederic, surprised to find Madame de la Garenne in Mathilde’s apartment, but of course totally charming.  A third glass of wine was poured and Mathilde told him about the bouquet of flowers, and asked his opinion on the invitation to the New Year house-party.

“Well Mathilde, I have heard about de Buisnard’s country manor house, I’d say that if you like the idea of getting out of the city for the new year, then this is a chance not to miss.”

“”But Mathilde, you can’t possibly go alone”, Madame chimed in, looking pointedly at Frederic.  “look at this lovely invitation, my darling,  I’m sure that this manor house is enormous and that there are dozens of rooms, you could both go and enjoy the evening together, you’d have your own rooms and then the next day you drive back here.  Good …. then that is all settled”.

Mathilde went a little pink, as Madame dropped her in this awkward situation “Madame, I am sure that Frederic already has plans for New Year”, but even as she spoke the words, he was smiling and shaking his head.  “If you’re asking, I’d love to accompany you.  I have a car, we can drive out”

And so it was arranged, that on New Years Eve they would drive out to Normandy late afternoon, spend the evening at the château or manor house, or whatever this place was, and return the next day.

The next couple of days flew by, Mathilde was working hard, and wanted to find a suitable gift to take to her hosts.  After much deliberation she settled on a hamper of goodies: champagne, foie gras, biscuits and chocolates from an excellent epicier near to her home.

She packed the hamper with care, and packed her little overnight bag, with a pretty dress for the New Year party (another vintage bijou from Madame’s wardrobe) and  suitable warm country clothes for New Years day when her hosts had told her they planned a country walk and a picnic tea on the estate.

New Year’s eve finally came, and she and Frederic left Paris during the afternoon for the drive out to Normandy.   The address was in deepest Normandy and they expected to take at least two hours to arrive, Mathilde was looking forward to the journey, and another chance for a long chat with Frederic.

The traffic leaving Paris was heavy, cars were leaving the capital en masse to celebrate the new year in the countryside.    With Frederic driving, Mathilde was map reading and when the traffic got too bad she deftly led them off the highway and on to some smaller country roads.   Gradually the towns became smaller and the valleys deeper until as it began to get dark they were driving miles with no sign of houses let alone towns.  Then it began to snow …. heavily.

There was still some snow and ice remaining from the Christmas covering, and this fresh layer quickly took a hold on the roads.   Frederic slowed down, and took the bends in the narrow country lanes with extreme caution, but suddenly the car lurched and spun on the road, the back wheels sliding into a deep snowdrift on the side of the lane.

Mathilde giggled “well this was unexpected!  shall I put on my walking boots and push?”    “Of course not, replied Frederic, I’ll push and you try to steer her gently out of this ditch”.

They persevered for almost half an hour, trying to get the car back on to the middle of the road.  Finally Mathilde called the manor house “Bonsoir, I am very sorry, this is Mathilde.  I am afraid to say that we are stuck! ……….. Excuse me?  I’m sorry I can’t hear you very well …..  no, I don’t know exactly where we are, I don’t think we are very far from you, but the snow is falling hard ….. oh thank you, ….. that is very kind of you ….. yes, don’t worry, we’ll stay here …. merci …… OK I’ll wait for your call”

Frederic looked at Mathilde in the light of his flash light “Alors?  what do they suggest?”

“They think that their park manager will be coming this way later this evening, and if he sees us he will bring us back … but they don’t know how long it will take…”

“Well my dear I think there is nothing for it; we are stuck …. desperate times call for desperate actions!”   And with that Frederic walked around to the back of the car, and pulled out a heavy soft plaid blanket, Mathilde looked surprised and he grinned “I thought it may come in useful for the picnic tomorrow”

They both settled down in the back of the car, with the blanket over their knees.  Conversation suddenly seemed stilted until, at an awkward pause, Frederic put his arm over Mathilde’s shoulders and pulled her towards him.  She looked into his eyes, and he leant over and kissed her gently on the lips.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since the first time I saw you; the minute you opened up the door and saw me waiting there with madame, I fell for you on the spot”

She smiled and leaned against his strong shoulder “And me for you…. Madame has a lot to answer for”

He kissed her again, and said “You know what?  It could take hours for help to get here, and I think this calls for a little celebration….. tell me again?  what did you put in that hamper for our hosts?”

And so it was that as the New Year drew closer, a car could be seen stopped on a quiet lane in Normandy; no lights on, but from inside came the soft glow of a candle with the sound of quiet music and the clink of glasses as two young people popped a bottle of champagne and raised their glasses to love, romance and the wonderful optimism that is the gift of young lovers wherever in the world they may be.


click here for the  christmas cocktail story :

part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4


Lee January 1, 2014 - 1:03 am

Bonne Annee!

Thank you for the delightful romantic trip you took your readers on the last few weeks.

Merci’……. Lee

Deborah Carter January 1, 2014 - 1:22 am

Dear Sharon,
I really loved all four instalments and so enjoyed the ending. I think that you may have started something here. Perhaps you could offer a story a month?
Wishing you a very happy New Year!
Cheers, Deborah from Melbourne.

Vicky Dickens January 1, 2014 - 1:35 am

What a delightful story with a storybook ending. I can only imagine where the romance went from the end of your story. Merci boucoup!
Bonne anne’e et bonne sante’!

Wyshmoor Interiors January 1, 2014 - 2:52 am

Beautifully written and if you have not published this you should! A lovely story! I hope to see another story soon!
Thank you so much for keeping us entertained and intrigued !
Bonne Annee!

Theresa Hibchen January 1, 2014 - 2:55 am

Thank you for the lovely Christmas cocktail story. Your blog is a one of my favorites. Happy New Year to you. I look forward to exploring France in 2014 through your postings.

Kate January 1, 2014 - 3:50 am

Loved your story and agree that you should write more short stories and publish them in a book. Hope you have a wonderful New Year and look forward to following along with your adventures in the coming year.

Colleen Taylor January 1, 2014 - 4:08 am

Merci pour cette belle histoire. Mai santé et bonheur vous suivre tout au long de la nouvelle année. Heureuse Nouvelle Année Sharon.

Linda Quast January 1, 2014 - 4:15 am

Thank you, Sharon, for sharing that lovely romantic story with us. Your post today is the perfect way to end the year and welcome the New Year. May you have a fabulous 2014! I look forward to sharing your life in France throughout the coming year.


Patty/BC January 1, 2014 - 4:32 am

Sigh…. how lovely, sweet and romantic : ) I loved it, thank you. Wishing you a wonderful 2014.

Yvonne January 1, 2014 - 6:02 am

the story must not end! I am hoping you will continue the adventures of Mathilde.
Bonne Annee et Bonne Sante 2014

Pa m January 1, 2014 - 6:36 am

Such a romantic ending love this so much
Happy New Year

Martine Alison January 1, 2014 - 6:54 am

L’année commence,

“La sagesse, c’est d’avoir des rêves suffisamment grands pour ne pas les perdre de vue lorsqu’on les poursuit.”
-Oscar Wilde-

Je vous souhaite une très belle année 2014.

Gros bisous

Heather in...the Luberon January 1, 2014 - 9:24 am

Happy New Year Sharon!

To wake up late, play with my dogs while the coffee is brewing and then somehow have enough internet connection to read this gorgeously romantic story? 2014 is off to a great start!

Wishing you an amazing year ahead full of joy, good health and beauty…

Esther George January 1, 2014 - 9:36 am

What a romantic beginning…… Hi Sharon hope your New Year celebrations were as noisy over there as they were here. Thank you for sharing this lovely story and those beautiful photographs. Here’s to a beautiful 2014. Regards Esther from Sydney.

Reply January 1, 2014 - 9:52 am

Perfect! A lovely way to start the new year, its the first thing I have read today. Happy New Year Sharon, thank you for the pleasure of reading about your life in France. Love and best wishes, Jane x

Bonnie Gutierrez January 1, 2014 - 11:28 am

Definitely the type of story that whets an appetite! … loved it!

Happy New Year Sharon!

Delaine January 1, 2014 - 11:46 am

Loved it! I do hope Mathilde’s story doesn’t end here! It would be fun to hear about her every now and then! Happy 2014!

Jacqueline January 1, 2014 - 12:47 pm

I was wondering how the story would end. Would the bubble burst? would some horrible thing happen or would Frederic turn out to be a cad? Would it end happily ever after in a maudlin way? NONE of the above ! A delightful story which I thoroughly enjoyed. Bonne Année de l’Amérique

Jane Cammann January 1, 2014 - 1:08 pm

How lovely! I felt like I was right there in Normandy! We have a fresh New Year’s Day snowfall here and perhaps tonite my honey and I will pop a cork as well! Merci! Looking forward to all the coming blog posts!

Nancy Alvarez January 1, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Loved your story. Keep more installments coming.

Barbara Lilian January 1, 2014 - 3:28 pm

Lovely story, enjoyed it right to the last line.
Hope we get some more at a later date. Maybe they could meet up again in Springtime.

Iracema January 1, 2014 - 5:16 pm

Oi Sharon,

Estou emocionada com sua linda história de amor. Uma boa maneira de começar um novo ano: com esperança e féno amor.
Mesmo morando tão longe e sem nenhuma chance de ter um cenário tão encantador como tão bem descreveu (moro no Brasil), sinto-me completamente arrebatada e feliz por ter tido a chance de conhecê-lo através de você.

Que no próximo ano continue a nos presentear com mais lindas histórias e com esse blog maravilhoso. O melhor de todos!


Julia January 1, 2014 - 5:30 pm

Thank you for this sweet, romantic story–so filled with promise–great way to start a new year.
Happy New Year to you and your family! Thank you for all of the time time you put into your beautiful blog. It is always such a nice break to read your posts.

Amy at love made my home January 1, 2014 - 10:42 pm

Sadly I haven’t been following your story – I will pop back and read it through over the next few days – but can I say that photo of the Chateau in the snow is stunning! Happy New Year to you and yours and looking forward to reading more in 2014! xx

Cathy R January 2, 2014 - 2:03 am

Cheers to a delightful story! And a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and all your family!!!

Cathy January 2, 2014 - 3:19 am

What a lovely story! Happy New Year from Montevideo,Uruguay!

Lorrie January 2, 2014 - 4:53 am

A perfect ending that made me smile with satisfaction. Lovely and warming. Merci, Sharon.

debi January 2, 2014 - 10:14 am

Oh…that was utterly perfect. Thank you for reminding me of those feelings of young love.
Bonne Annee !

Susie January 2, 2014 - 2:55 pm

Thank you so much for the story – I look forward to more adventures with all of your characters. You are a very talented lady and appreciate you sharing with us.

Krista January 2, 2014 - 2:55 pm

I loved the story! Thanks so much for sharing it.

Roxane January 2, 2014 - 3:30 pm

Happy New Year Sharon! Best wishes for a wonderful year to you & your family!

Laura Wilson January 2, 2014 - 11:00 pm

Loved this. So very sweet and a beautiful beginning to a new year. Thank you!

Sally Leonard January 4, 2014 - 12:07 am

A beautiful conclusion to your story! You paint lovely pictures with your words…

sylvia Faye January 4, 2014 - 4:00 am

Love the story, love the pictures and put the Eiffle Tower close up as my homepage………I had missed your posts with the email changeover so I was able to read all four c’est soir and mailed the posts to my eldest daughter to enjoy as she was in France in 2012.

roseleann January 6, 2014 - 3:04 pm

Rediscovered your blog last night! I found your Christmas Cocktail story and its characters so enchanting, I couldn’t go to sleep until I had finished all four installments! I look forward to keeping up with you and (hopefully) the continuing saga of Mathilde and her delightful friends!

Jeanne....Collage of Life January 7, 2014 - 10:59 am

You got me at country house in Normandy…fabulous story Sharon! I think we need more…just imagining the romps around a French country house could keep us entertained for days to come. This was a wonderful gift..thank you. xx

Mary Blakemore January 8, 2014 - 2:12 am

Thank you Sharon. What a lovely peice of romance. looking forward to more. Happy New Year from down under NZ. Hope to be in Paris in the spring……….

Sharon E January 8, 2014 - 3:46 am

Loved it! Write another! Soon.

Nathalie January 8, 2014 - 5:07 pm

Quelle belle petite histoire ! Quoi de plus beau que la naissance d’une idylle !
Un grand merci pour ce beau partage.
Je vous souhaite une belle et douce année 2014
C’est avec beaucoup de plaisir que je vous retrouve quotidiennement.
Merci encore….

Mickie January 22, 2014 - 3:24 am

So beautiful and romantic. Perhaps an update for Valentines Day?

Beth February 16, 2014 - 2:28 am

Thank you Sharon for this gorgeous story. I am just now reading part 4 and I am happy to know that all ended so lovely. You have a beautiful blog and a talent for sharing the lovely aspects of France. Thank you and please keep writing!

Wallace May 9, 2014 - 7:28 pm

Amazing love story..

Barbara December 31, 2014 - 4:12 pm

What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing… Many Blessings and Much love to you in the coming year! Happy New Year!

Pamela December 22, 2015 - 7:26 pm

I just finished reading last years Christmas Tale. It was so beautiful.
Thank you so much.


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