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Christmas markets in France

PUBLISHED: 12:07 06 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:15 06 October 2017

Strasbourg Christmas market © Daniel Schoenen / Upper Rhine Valley

Strasbourg Christmas market © Daniel Schoenen / Upper Rhine Valley


Get in the festive spirit by visiting one of these 12 traditional Christmas markets in France and pick up some French Christmas gifts

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Mulhouse Christmas market, Grand-Est

24 November - 27 December 2017

Standing out among the abundance of Christmas markets in the Alsace region are the seasonal celebrations in Mulhouse. Taking inspiration from its industrial past, the chalets, as well as the hôtel de ville and facades of the Place de la Réunion, are all decorated with a unique festive fabric. The stalls offer specialities from Alsace and the distinctive earthenware of the region as well as local cheeses, mulled wine, gingerbread and many more gastronomic delights. The town really captures the magic of Christmas with an abundance of fairy lights, weekly concerts and a live advent calendar as each night a window in the hôtel de ville is opened up to allow Christmas troubadours to tell captivating nativity stories.


Colmar Christmas market, Grand-Est

24 November - 30 December 2017

In close proximity to Germany, Alsace has its fair share of marchés de Noël and there are five in Colmar alone, with wooden chalets selling festive gifts across the town. The Dominican church with its illuminated stained glass windows offers a lovely backdrop to the market in Place des Dominicains, and the Schwendi Fountain provides the focal point of the Place de l’Ancienne Douane market. Further on, the market in Place Jeanne d’Arc offers culinary delights, including gingerbread, wine and brandy, while the indoor market at Koïfhus sells crafts by local artisans, perfect Christmas gifts. Finally, Petite Venise is taken over by a market just for children with toys stalls, an animated Nativity scene and a giant letter box to post your letter to Santa.


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Strasbourg Christmas market, Grand-Est

24 November - 24 December 2016

With its inaugural Christmas market (Christkindelsmärik) held in 1570, Strasbourg claims to host the oldest and one of the largest marchés de Noël in Europe. The market has some 300 chalets arranged across 11 areas of the city selling arts and crafts, food and Alsatian Christmas decorations. Highlights include delicious vin chaud and tasty bretzels, as well as the impossible-to-miss giant Christmas tree in Place Kléber and breathtaking illuminations throughout the rest of the city. Guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit!


Paris Christmas markets

23 November - 28 December 2017

There are several Christmas markets for you to choose from or if you are feeling really Christmassy you can try them all! The Champs-Élysées marché de noël isn't on this year but there will still be an ice rink at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Further out of town is the Christmas market in the La Défense area (23 November - 28 December 2017), Paris’s business district. With stalls set among the high-rise office buildings, it is a different experience to most Christmas markets! At the Gare de l’Est you will find a traditional Alsace marché de noël (2017 dates to be confirmed) while there will be Christms market with more than 50 stalls at the Notre-Dame (15-24 December 2017).


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Lille Christmas market, Hauts-de-France

17 November - 27 December 2017

In Lille, the Place Rihour is transformed into a Christmas village with 80 charming chalets showcasing the work of local craftsmen and producers. Specialities to be enjoyed include gayffres liègoises and gingerbread, plus foie gras, fromage de Savoie and traditional mulled wine. The main square is transformed into a winter wonderland with a Ferris wheel and giant Christmas tree and the town shops compete with their window displays. Lille is only 80 minutes from London via the Eurostar… What are you waiting for!


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Arras Christmas market, Hauts-de-France

24 November - 30 December 2017

This Christmas market takes pride of place in the Grand’Place a splendid baroque square in the heart of Arras, capital of the Pas-de-Calais department. Over the past few years, it has become one of the most popular festive events in northern France. More than 100 stalls make up the Village de Noel, with sellers coming from far and wide; items on sale range from hand-painted Christmas tree ornaments to salted caramel cognac, and Corsican festive treats such as tapenade de Noël. Families with small children should plan their visit for 6 December, when Saint Nicholas climbs down the town halls’ belfry and hands out sweets. For a market view from on high, take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel and peer fown over the ribbons of golden light that fill the square, before heading out to check on other attractions, such as the ice rink and the merry-go-round.


Amiens Christmas markets, Hauts-de-France

24 November - 30 December 2017

From 24 November to 30 December visitors to the Notre-Dame cathedral will find themselves surrounded by one of northern France’s largest Christmas markets, which was launched in 1998. With more than 130 chalet-style stalls from all over France and beyond, the market provides the perfect opportunity to shop for gifts including traditional wooden crafts and Le Creuset cookware, and to enjoy a bounty of local produce. Try the golden-crusted macarons d’Amiens, very different from the pastel-coloured Parisian confections, or the Picardy gâteau battu, a brioche-like cake in the shape of a chef’s hat. Those with a more savoury palate should seek out one of the stalls selling smoked and potted eel, or the region’s Maroilles cheeses.


Reims Christmas market, Grand-Est

2017 date to be confirmed

Reims is the unofficial capital of the champagne-producing region, but the city is also the setting for a magical Christmas market. In Place d’Erlon and the surrounding streets, more than 130 stalls make up the Village de Noël; shoppers can find all sorts of home-made gifts, as well as Christmas decorations and gastronomic treats, including locally produced honey, jams, gingerbread, foie gras and snails. There are plenty of other attractions nearby including an ice rink, a live nativity scene and a grotto where little ones can meet Father Christmas.


Toulouse Christmas market, Occitanie

24 November - 26 December 2017

Giving the northern regions a run for their money is the popular fêtes de fin d’année in Toulouse. The famous Place du Capitole has a festive makeover and the chalets take over the heart of Toulouse, selling the customary local woodcrafts, toys, candles and other gift ideas. Father Christmas can be found among the stalls handing out treats to the children while older visitors can enjoy mulled wine and traditional grilled chestnuts. The city adds its own touch to the festivities with regional specialities such as cheese and wine to purchase and a traditional nativity scene to admire. A visit isn’t complete without a stroll through the streets of Toulouse under the twinkling decorations and Christmas lights.


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Marseille Christmas market, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

26 November - 31 December 2017

Marseille’s Christmas market is slightly different to those of northern France because it is dedicated to santons – crib figures used to tell the story of the nativity. The tradition of santons and crèche Provençale is still very much alive in Marseille and they are used in many homes to tell the story of the Nativity by being moved around the crib in the lead up to Christmas Day. As well as the usual suspects of shepherds, three kings, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, the ordinary peasants of Provence are also key characters in the Nativity scenes. Santons became popular after the French Revolution when churches were closed and large nativity scenes were prohibited. Private, domestic cribs became an important way to keep religion and tradition alive, especially in Marseille, and the Foire aux Santons de Marseille celebrates this. As well as stalls selling the little figurines, the fair has musical performances, parades, as well as an appearance from Santa.


Bordeaux Christmas market, Nouvelle Aquitaine

24 November - 26 December 2017

What better way to enjoy a glass of Bordeaux than as a toast to the joys of the city’s own Christmas spectacular! Every year the Allée de Tourney square is transformed into a winter wonderland filled with 130 wooden chalets, the enticing aromas of vin chaud and the sound of carols. The unique draw of this market is the range of original gifts made in the Aquitaine region, which provide gourmet temptations in particular: home-made chocolates from Bayonne, Médoc wines and foie gras. Children can get into the Christmas spirit at a number of events including free sleigh rides across the square and a visit to Father Christmas.


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Nice Christmas market, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

2 December 2017 - 1 January 2018

A Christmas village is created in Place Massena in Nice with an enchanted forest, ice rink and wooden chalets seling arts and crafts and reginoal food. As well as the traditional mulled wine you can try socca (pancakes made from chickpea flour, a speciality of Nice), oysters and champagne. Take a stroll down the Promenade des Anglais and admire the amazing Christmas lights displays.

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