Ten things to do in France before Christmas

Ten things to do in France before Christmas
There's some great things to do in France before Christmas. Photo: AFP
With Christmas just round the corner, we've put together ten great festive and not-so-festive events happening around France in December to help you brave the cold and have a ball.

Lyon, Rhônes-Alpes: Festival of Lights – Fête des Lumières – December 5th to 8th

Prepare to be dazzled by Lyon’s annual ‘Fête des Lumières’. Countless lights are put up around the city, colourful images are projected onto buildings and festival goers stroll around holding lanterns.

Bocognano, Corse-du-Sud: Chestnut Fair – Foire de la Châitagne – December 5th to 7th

Head to the Corsican city of Bocognano for a mouthful of deliciousness. Not only will you go nuts for the local specialty, there’s plenty more to taste and experience, including concerts and a book fair which offer a window into Corsican culture. 

Roubaix, Nord-Pas-de-Calais: Art Fair – Braderie de l'Art – December 6th and 7th 

Nothing goes to waste in this fair in northern France as savvy craftspeople turn old materials and rubbish into paintings, sculptures and other works of art. Braderie de l’Art offers its 15,000 annual guests the chance to buy some innovative art without breaking the bank (prices range from just €1 to up to €250). 

Nancy, Lorraine: Saint Nicolas – December 6th & 7th

Santa takes second stage in this town in eastern France as a similar character going by the name of Saint Nicolas is welcomed three weeks before Christmas. Join in the fun as up to 25,000 locals let off fireworks and hold their own unique parades.

Paris: Champs-Elysées Christmas Market – November 14th to January 4th

If ever there’s a time that Paris can truly lay claim to being the City of Lights, it's at Christmas.  From its lit-up Champs-Elysées to the intricate decorations of its Grand Magasins, a stroll around the French capital is sure to get you in a festive mood.

 Grandcamp-Maisy, Basse-Normandie: Scallop Festival – La Coquille St. Jacques en Fête – December 6th & 7th

Seafood lovers, spread the news! It doesn’t get more authentic than this fishy fiesta in north-western France. Sample local dishes, browse the fish markets and admire the old sailing boats in the harbour.

Photo: Carolco/flickr

Mouans-Sartoux, Alpes-Maritimes: Crib Figurine Fair – Foire aux Santons – December 14th to 24th

The Provence region is famous for its “Santons”, hand-painted nativity scene figurines made out of terracotta. At the faire in Mouans-Sartoux artists from all over France come together to showcase and sell their creations. If you fancy displaying a traditional “Provençal crèche” this Christmas you’ll find everything you need at the fair, from hundreds of accessories for the crib to books on the history and art of figurine making. 

Paris: International Paris Boat Show – Salon Nautique International de Paris – December 6th to 14th

Whether you already own a boat or just dream of cruising along the French Riviera, the International Paris Boat Show held at the Porte de Versaille is for you. The exhibition showcases 1,200 boats including some of the newest fanciest models. You can also try out different water sports like stand-up paddling, wind-surfing and canoeing or learn how to climb a ship's mast.

Licques, Nord-Pas-de-Calais: Turkey Festival – Fête de la Dinde – December 13th and 14th

The Turkey Festival in Licques was voted one of the 100 most beautiful festivals in France. The town hosts a big gourmet Christmas market selling regional specialties but the main event is the turkey parade on Sunday. People from the area dress up in traditional costumes and guide the birds through the town. Make sure to grab a glass of "Licquoise", a warm local licquor, before the turkeys set off. 

Épernay, Champagne-Ardenne: Épernay Habits de Lumières – December 12th to 14th

A range of celebrations take over the northern town of Épernay for these three days. Some of the spectacles are similar to the Fête des Lumières in Lyon but there are also parades, exhibitions, and a food tasting of dishes prepared by local chefs.

by Simone Flückiger

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