What’s on: Eight cool things to do in France in December

What's on: Eight cool things to do in France in December
Photo: AFP
Ho ho ho readers, it’s December already and there’s a definite Christmas vibe in the air (not to mention in this story). Yes, here are the best things to do in France this month, including a few non-Christmas related events.

The Strasbourg Christmas market (pictured above)

This is the oldest “marché de Noël” in France, dating back to the 16th century. Set in the quaint, medieval old town, it has 300 stalls, making it one of the largest markets in Europe. The heart of the festivities is Place de la Cathédrale, in front of the gothic cathedral. Open until December 30th.

There are, of course, plenty of other decent Christmas markets around France. Here are 13 others worth checking out! But remember, the one on the Champs-Elysees has been cancelled this year.  

Festival of Light, Lyon

From December 7th to 10th, a variety of different artists will light up buildings, streets, squares and parks all over the city.

The town has promised 50 installations in total, and has even launched a free app to go with the event. Find out more here.

Crib Figurine Fair – Foire aux Santons – Until December 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.

See a Christmas concert in a church

Churches across France will be offering some spectacular Christmas shows this month.

For those in Paris, check out the one in the Saint Chapelle church (in the first arrondissement, pictured below) that will feature the music of Bach, Purcell, Corelli, the Ave Maria and other traditional Christmas songs. (It happens on the 22nd of December and the 29th).

“Not only do you get to listen to the gorgeous music, you also get to savor the astounding beauty of the church and its brilliant stained glass windows,” says Richard Nahem, who runs the Eye Prefer Paris blog.

If you’re in Paris, it’s also worth taking a look at Les Billettes Church in the Marais, or the traditional Christmas Concert at the gothic wonder, St. Severin.

Spend a half day at the Vaux le Vicomte chateau

Here’s one you may not have heard about. The chateau, about an hour outside of Paris, opens its doors for festive Christmas fun until January 7th. The Paris tourism bureau promises an “incredible atmosphere created especially for the occasion” of Christmas.

The chateau, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, is decorated specially for the Christmas celebrations. Find out more here.

Cannes Dance Festival

From the 8th to the 17th of December, you can check out this festival in the south of France which promises 14 different shows over two long weekends. You can expect a lot of up-and-coming talent, with organizers promising a focus on young dancers and choreographers. 

Transmusicales, Rennes: December 6th-10th

The Transmusicales festival has been around for over three decades now, and has a reputation for discovering future chart-toppers. Portishead, Nirvana, Kate Nash and the Ting Tings all played here before they found fame, so you have a good chance of finding your new favourite artist here.

The Saint-Nicholas Festival in Nancy

The 36-day festival runs until December 31st, and sees a host of events dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Who’s Saint Nick? Well, he is the protector of the weak and oppressed, as well as the patron saint of lawyers, sailors and school children.

The “Fêtes de Saint-Nicolas” attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Nancy every year, and you can expect lights, street performances, parades, food villages, art markets, rides, games, concerts, a spectacular sound and light show, a grand procession.