Marchés de Noël have been popular in Alsace and northern France since the 16th century, and nowadays France boasts the second largest number of Christmas markets in Europe.
They are famous for selling regional produce and are filled with yummy treats from mulled wine to Alsace Bredele biscuits.
Here are some of the most picturesque and charming Christmas markets to visit in France in 2018.
PARIS: Tuileries (home to the cancelled Champs-Elysées Christmas Market)
Dubbed La Magie de Noel (The Magic of Christmas), the market features a giant ice rink, a ferris wheel and 120 stalls serving up Christmas food specialties from 20 French regions. There's also a host of artisans showcasing and selling their creations, and kids can look forward to a free theatre and a Guignol puppet show on weekends.
Open 24 November to 6 January. Find out more here
PARIS: L’Arche de Noël à la Défense
This is the largest of all the Christmas markets in Paris and certainly one of the merriest. Its 350 or so stalls are packed full of festive decorations, original presents and tasty treats. Set in the heart of the busy business district, the Christmas village makes for a quirky contrast with the tall skyscrapers.
Open 22 November to 29 December. Find out more here
Photo :Village De Noel Paris La Defense/Facebook
The picturesque city of Montbéliard in the France's eastern Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region holds one of the country's most stunning Christmas markets. Here, visitors will find themselves fully immersed in festive spirit, with the craft market filled with handmade, traditional products, the festive light display and illuminated streets. And for the adventurous, there's even an ice rink.
Open 24 November to 24 December. Find out more here
Amiens Christmas market is renowned for its local produce: sugary delights like macaroons and tuiles amienoises (almond biscuits) as well as glass, soaps, and angora pullovers. But what makes Amiens really stand out is the spectacular “son et lumière” (light and sound) show projected onto the town’s gothic cathedral every night.
Open 23 November to 31 December. Find out more here
Photo: Marché de Noël Amiens/Facebook
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 23 November to 30 December. Find out more here
or visit the Strasbourg Christmas Market Facebook page
Photos: Strasbourg Tourism
Reims Christmas market, in the Champagne region of France, is one of the best for pure yuletide joy and Christmas cheer. They keep their market lively with winter sports at the dry ski slope and street performances from carollers, jazz bands, jugglers and organ grinders. A total of 140 little wooden chalets will be selling local crafts, as well as delicacies from the region, so expect a lot of champagne.
Open 21 November to 28 December. Find out more here
This town in the Nord Pas-de-Calais region wins for originality. Here the focus is on fine festive food, especially top quality poultry. Known as the Fête de la Dinde their Christmas food market includes a parade of live turkeys through the centre of town. This is followed by a swig of the local liqueur, Licquoise, before buyers personally select their Christmas dinner.
Festival runs on December 14, 15, 16. Find out more here
MULHOUSE Les étoffes de Noël
Mulhouse has a celebrated tradition of textiles (étoffes) and every Christmas they create a new festive cloth which is then used to decorate the market. Fairy lights, chalets and stalls create an Alsatian winter wonderland where, thanks to Mulhouse’s location near the Swiss and German borders, it’s no surprise to find stalls selling crafts from Mulhouse alongside traditional Swiss and Vosgien gifts.
Open 24 November to 27 December. Find out more here
or visit the Mulhouse Christmas Market Facebook
Photo: Marché de Noël Mulhouse/Facebook
Photo: Vincent Desjardins
This northern city has one of the most popular Christmas markets in France, attracting 900,000 visitors every year. Almost 100 stalls in the central Place Rihour sell traditional goodies like Maroilles cheese, chicory pâté and babeluttes (soft caramels). In the nearby Grand Place, a 50-metre-high ferris wheel offers fantastic views over Lille’s Flemish-Renaissance architecture, festooned with sparkling Christmas fairy lights.
Photo: Marché de Noël Lille/Facebook
This charming town in the north of France is the perfect setting for a magical Christmas market. A total of 90 stalls are set up in the Grand Place where scents of mulled wine mingle with hot chocolate and Flemish waffles – a local specialty. There are plenty of musical events and street performances from fire-eaters and jugglers, as well as a daily visit from Santa Claus. Open until December 30th.
Photo: Marché de Noël Arras/Facebook
This is one of the prettiest Christmas markets thanks to its almost entirely pedestrianized town centre, medieval Alsace architecture and annual decorations competition. Twinkling fairy lights and glowing Rudolphs bedeck balconies and shopfront windows alike. The children’s market in Petite Venise includes stalls selling handcrafted toys and a giant letter box for posting a wish-list to Santa.
Open 23 November to 30 December. Find out more here
Photo: Marché de Noel de Alsace
The gothic cathedral in the historic part of town is the perfect backdrop to the Rouen Christmas market. Plenty of little stalls sell delicious mulled wine, local specialties and other typical Christmas goods. There’s a whole part of the market dedicated to children and you can show off your ice skating skills on an outdoor rink.
Photo: Marché de Noël Rouen/Facebook
The Bordeaux Christmas market has become a holiday tradition in the region. Over 150 exhibitors sell unique gifts and creations from all over the world. Stroll around the illuminated market, sip on a cup of mulled wine and enjoy some delicious treats.
Photo: Marché de Noël Bordeaux/Facebook
By some accounts France's second most visited Christmas market after Strasbourg, Metz in the Grand Est is a must-visit. With six of the city's squares filled with stalls dedicated to celebrating the festive period, it's impossible not to get into the festive spirit. Enjoy traditional treats like the merry-go-round, a walk through the magical forest or stock up on gastronomic Christmas essentials at the city market hall.
Open 17 November to 6 January. Find out more here
Officially one of France's most beautiful villages, Riquewihr's fairytale atmosphere makes it the ideal location to celebrate the festive season. Wander the medieval cobbled streets and see the village at its most stunning. You'll find a Christmassy world of tasting sessions, concerts, exhibitions and delicious food.
Open 1 to 23 December. Find out more here (English guide).