Montpellier ended the first half of the season on a low note with a 4-2 loss at Evian on Wednesday in a result that gave Paris Saint Germain the opportunity to claim the kudos of going into the recess as 'winter champions'.
On the day that Qatari-backed PSG were reported in the local media to have secured the services of David Beckham in the January transfer window the capital-side can enjoy their Christmas break as table toppers with a draw at Saint Etienne.
That late game brings the curtain down on the first half of a season in which Montpellier have punched above their weight.
Despite losing some of their edge, this Evian reverse followed defeat to Valenciennes and a 1-1 draw with Toulouse, the Provencal side have won 11 and drawn four to sit on 37 points.
PSG are also on 37, but provisionally lying second on goal difference.
Defending champions Lille ended the first half of their title defence with a 4-4 stalemate against strugglers Nice to leave the northern side two points off the pace in third.
Former serial champions Lyon are one point back in fourth after coming unstuck 1-0 at midtable Valenciennes.
Rennes, 1-0 winners over Bordeaux, are fourth, with Marseille, who had such a wretched start to their campaign, having broken into the top five on Tuesday with a 3-1 victory at Nancy.
At home, Montpellier twice gave away the lead against resilient oppsoition in the shape of promoted side Evian.
After a scoreless first half Younes Belhanda put the hosts in control two minutes after the break, only for Cedric Barbosa to level for Evian five minutes later.
France international Olivier Giroud had Montpellier back in front immediately after but goals from Saber Khlifa, Cedric Cambon and Brice Dja Djedje in the space of just six minutes did it for Montpellier.
For Giroud that took his tally up to 13 for the campaign, one more than his haul over all of last season.
One of Lille's favourite adopted sons, former Liverpool star Joe Cole was among the scorers for the champions who looked to be heading for a draw only for Nice's Francois Clerc to grab the points with the winner in the third minute of injury time.
Lyon came away with nothing from their visit to Valenciennes when Aly Cissoko put the ball into his own net just before the half hour in what could be his last match for the seven time former titleholders.
This result ended a sequence of four straight wins for Lyon.
Rennes will go into the break feeling on good terms with themselves. Having mustered a mere one point from the last nine on offer they came away with three against Bordeaux thanks to Jires Kembo's free kick.
Down at the foot of the table bottom-side Ajaccio proved they weren't about to give up their topflight status without a fight, coming away from their visit to Sochaux with a 2-0 win, only their third of the season, to put them on 15 points, three behind Sochaux and Nancy.