Known variously as colis des ainés, colis des vieux, colis de Noël or colis cadeaux, the Christmas hampers delivered by local authorities to older people in France spark joy every year.
Typically, these parcels contain culinary delights like sausage, foie gras, chocolate and booze.
Although in Paris, where some 1,700 hampers will be delivered this year to people over the age of 65, recipients can choose to receive a “well-being” parcel with items like shampoo and body scrubs (the majority have opted for the gastronomic option).
Mayor just delivered our Christmas hamper… I'm of an age 🙊🙉🙈 God I love this country ❤️🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/yYhEPCGh8b
— Gary From Calais (@CalaisFrom) December 19, 2021
So who gets these treats?
Confusingly, each commune has its own rules on who is eligible to receive these hampers, although it is generally focused on older people.
Each local authority has different rules on age limits – although you need to be at least of official retirement age (62) to qualify – earning limits and whether or not you need to register to receive a parcel. In some places, such as Calais, a relative, neighbour or carer of an older resident can register to receive a package on their behalf.
Some authorities deliver thousands of hampers, others hundreds and some none at all, while in some areas the mairie instead puts on a free lunch for those who qualify.
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🎄🎊 La distribution des #colis aux aînés de Carrières-Sous-Poissy a débuté ce vendredi 17 décembre et se termine le 22. Elle est assurée en #Mairie, par les #élus, des membres du Conseil des sages et des agents du #CCAS. pic.twitter.com/tjwKLzIN2r
— Ville de Carrières-sous-Poissy (@ville_carrieres) December 17, 2021
In some small villages, these packages will be delivered by local mayors themselves.
Elsewhere, it is up to law enforcement officers, town councillors, other officials or charity workers to deliver the hampers. This gifting is not enshrined in law but many localities across France are proud of the tradition, which goes back as far as the 1940s.
The hampers are often financed by local neighbourhood committees or residents’ associations.
Distribution des colis aux aînés par le CCAS à Brognon. Sous les masques, nous avons le sourire ! pic.twitter.com/iIN2L4v2SJ
— Ludovic Rochette (@LudovicRochette) December 18, 2021
“Under the masks, we are smiling,” said Ludovic Rochette, the mayor of Brognon, near Dijon.
The commune of Igoville in northern France described the distribution of hampers as a “beautiful occasion to meet with our elders, to exchange with them and to wish them a happy end to the year.”
The MP for Val-d’Oise, Cécile Rilhac, said the initiative marked a “good moment of solidarity”.
The deadline to register in most communes has already passed. But you can always try searching “colis des ainés” + the name of your area to find out whether you are still eligible to receive a parcel.