Ten things to do in France before Christmas

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.

Ten things to do in France before Christmas
There's some great things to do in France before Christmas. Photo: AFP

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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Will anywhere in France get a white Christmas this year?

A white Christmas might be at the top of many people's festive wish list but will it actually come true for anyone in France this year?

Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France.
Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France. Non-mountainous parts of the country will not see snow this year. (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

If you’re in France and have been dreaming of a white Christmas, you are probably out of luck. 

It has been freezing in recent days with temperatures falling to a low of -33.4C in Jura on Wednesday morning, but the cold spell isn’t going to last. 

Temperatures across the country will hover around the 10C level in most of France by the afternoon on December 25th according to Météo France, with parts of the country including Brittany and some parts of eastern France experiencing rainfall. 

By the afternoon on Christmas Day, the chances of snow look extremely limited. Source:

On Saturday, there will be some snowfall, but only if you are high in the mountains at an altitude of 1,800-2,000m. On Sunday, places above 1,500m could also see snow – but this rules out the vast majority of the country. 

Roughly half the country will see sunshine over the weekend. The French weather channel said that this Christmas could be among the top five or six warmest since 1947. 

Last year, Météo France cautioned: “While we often associate snow with Christmas in the popular imagination, the probability of having snow in the plains [ie not in the mountains] during this period is weak in reality.”

One of the last great Christmas snowfalls, outside of France’s mountainous areas, came in 2010 when 3-10 cm of snow fell in Lille, Rouen and Paris. In Strasbourg, 26cm fell. 

On Christmas Day in 1996, 12 cm of snow fell in Angers – ironically, this was also the day that the film, Y’aura t’il de la neige à Noël? (Will there never be snow at Christmas?) was released. It had been ten years since France had seen such snowfall outside of the Alps and Pyrenees. 

Météo France directly attributes declining rates of Christmas snowfall to climate change. Compared to 50 years ago, even the Alps receives the equivalent one less month of snowfall per year.