A French Market

Shop for a good cause at Le Marche de Noel

Published: 30 November 2017, Text by: Tan Lee Kuen, Photos: Le Marche de Noel

On 7 December, have a joyeux season as you shop at the Le Marché de Noël in Kuala Lumpur. This annual Christmas bazaar, organised by women from the French expatriate community in Malaysia, is an excellent opportunity to pick up a delightful gift for the season, sample good food and experience French-style gaiety while contributing to a good cause. Funds raised from ticket sales to the bazaar and a Christmas Party will go to two Malaysian children's charities, Make-A-Wish Malaysia and A-Heart-For-A-Heart.

This year, Le Marché de Noël will take place at Glasshouse, a gorgeous light-filled space with floor-to-ceiling windows, in Seputeh, Kuala Lumpur. Over 70 vendors are expected at this popular bazaar, offering chic fashion, home decor and beauty items as well as beautiful accessories and hand-sewn children and ladies wear.

"We try to offer a special French shopping experience from handcrafted products to novelty items that are not available through the usual retail outlets, and that is why Le Marché de Noël is so successful," said one of the organisers, Patricia Nivet.

At the bazaar this year, you can pick up beautiful evening pouches from Moniko, contemporary ethnic jewellery from Bao France, Mantraband's inspirational bracelets and regional home decor from Babel East, among many others. Foodwise, tantalise the taste buds with artisanal French food from Gourmandines and macarons from Nathalie's Gourmet Studio.

The bazaar started with a group of French women, some with fashion and marketing experience, organising private shopping parties within their community. Word soon spread of this boutique shopping event, and in 2011, the first Le Marché de Noël was held with 40 vendors. It was clear to the organisers from the very start that the bazaar would have a charitable goal. Florence Lambert, founder of the Gadis Manis fashion label and one of the original organisers, mooted supporting children's associations, a tradition that the bazaar continues.

The inaugural Le Marché de Noël raised about RM24,000 (USD5,700), which went to the Madeleine Children's fund. Last year, the growing bazaar hosted 71 vendors and with the help of 14 sponsors, raised some RM220,000 (USD52,500). This year, given the current economic climate, the organising committee hopes to raise RM200,000 (USD48,000).

Le Marché de Noël has supported Make-A-Wish Malaysia and A-Heart-for-A-Heart since 2012. A-Heart-For-A-Heart is a Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur charity initiative to offer financial assistance to children with congenital heart disease. Through the programme, the funds are used to aid children in need of heart surgeries, as well as to support the families.

Make-A-Wish Malaysia is a charity that grants special wishes to children with critical illnesses to give them hope, strength and joy. The wishes are varied, and could be as simple as going on a family holiday to meeting a favourite celebrity or being a princess for a day.

"It's very inspiring to see a group of expatriates with such compassion in making a difference in the lives of less fortunate Malaysians," said Irene Tan, Chief Executive Officer of Make-A-Wish Malaysia. Le Marché de Noël’s donations and consistent support have allowed the charity to expand its work to another two Malaysian public hospitals, Hospital Ipoh and Hospital Pulau Pinang.

"To expand hospital collaboration is very easy because doctors are always ready to refer sick children to us but we would not have been able to commit to these new hospitals if not for the funds from Le Marché de Noël," said Tan.

For Patricia Nivet, who joined the organising team three years ago, it was a way of giving back to her new home. The French national was born in Indonesia and lived in Asia until she was 17. She returned to the region five years ago when her husband found a job opportunity in Malaysia.

"Le Marché de Noël was a way for me to contribute to Malaysia and Asia in general, places that have warmly hosted me for so many years, and to give back a little bit," she said. "What I enjoy is seeing the kids happy when we grant their wishes and also if we can help to make them healthier with the heart surgeries."

On the same night, after the bazaar has wrapped up, the organisers are throwing a Charity Party, with Chef Jean Michel from the French Feast restaurant cooking up a Gallic spread for the buffet, and Classic Fine Foods supplying a selection of French cheese. Adding to the merriment is the free flow of red and white wines as well as beers and cocktails.

Guests will be entertained with Jean Christophe on the decks and Ivory from Las Vegas as MC. Give generously at the silent auction, which has a large number of prizes to be won, such as a helicopter tour of Kuala Lumpur, a stay at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in Ipoh, a stay at Tanjong Jara Resort, and pictures from French photographers. The lucky draw prizes are as delightful and include air tickets, beauty sets, massages, restaurant dining vouchers at the likes of La Bodega and Le Meridien, and a stay at Club Med, among others.

Entrance to the bazaar is priced at RM25 (USD6) pre-sale and RM30 (USD7) at the door. The Charity Party ticket is selling for RM190 (USD45) and is only available before the event. Follow Le Marché de Noël at facebook.com/leMarchedeNoel for details on purchasing the tickets.

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