SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

CHRISTMAS

Our pick of the best Christmas markets in France

Germany may be the home of Christmas markets, but France has seen an upsurge in festive markets in the last decade and can now boast some pretty impressive offerings of its own - here is our pick of the eleven best.

Our pick of the best Christmas markets in France
Feeling festive? Why not take in a marché de noël? Photo: AFP

Northern France and Alsace are probably the most popular locations for Marchés de Noël where they have existed since the 16th century thanks to their closer proximity to Germany and, in the case of Alsace, German historical influences.

 

READ ALSO Why do the French eat so much seafood at Christmas?

But the rest of the country has markets that are also well worth a visit. Here is out pick:

Strasbourg

The oldest and most famous market in France is the Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg. There is no doubt that hordes of visitors will be roaming inside the market in search of a Bredele, a traditional biscuit of the region. Two million visitors are expected to visit the Alsatian fairy-tale this year, despite the transportation strike. 

Christkindelsmärik is located on Place Broglie and is open until December 24th. 

Alternatively, you could also have a look at the Christmas market in front of the Gothic Cathedral which will be open from the 22 November until the 30 of December. More information on the Strasbourg Christmas market Facebook page

Find out more here about Christmas festivities in Strasbourg. 


Don't forget to sample a mulled wine. Photo: AFP

Reims

As well as the traditional market activities, Reims also offers illuminations, this year a daily lightshow on the façade of the ancient Cathedral revisits the history of French royalty. 

Ice rink, ferris wheel and activities for children are also on the programme. 

Fun Fact: since last year, visitors can buy the Canadian speciality poutine, which has proven to be a huge success. 

Open until December 29th. Find out more here (English guide). 

Colmar

Back in Alsace, Colmar is one of the year-round tourist hotspots in the region thanks to its beautiful medieval city centre.

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 until December 29th. Find out more here

Lille

One million people visited the Christmas market in the northern town of Lille in 2018. 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. 

Open until December 29th. Find out more here or visit their Facebook page

Metz

The Lorraine town is also famous for its Christmas market located on the place d’Armes in front of the gothic cathedral. The Ferris wheel offers a panorama over the city. European Best Destinations ranked it among the 10 best Christmas markets in Europe. 

Open until December 29th. Find out more here


Marseille Christmas market in the city's old port area. Photo: AFP

Marseille

A Christmas market on the Côte d’Azur? Absolutely! The old port of Marseille is hosting a Christmas market for the 18th time this year. Sixty craftworkers and creators are attending the event, which closes on January 5th. Find out more here

Arras

A total of 140 stalls are located in the baroque Grand Place where scents of mulled wine mingle with hot chocolate and Flemish waffles – a local specialty.

Open until December 30th. Find out more here.

Mulhouse

Another Alsatian Christmas market in the list, Mulhouse is renowned for its 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 until December 29th. Find out more here or visit the Mulhouse Christmas Market Facebook page. 

Toulouse

Set up on the Place du Capitole, a hundred of exhibitors are participating this year in the Christmas market. 

Clothes, toys, craftworks and of course mulled wine are part of the merrymaking. Toulouse Christmas market is equipped with digital tablets this year to help visitors with disabilities to skim through the goodies for sales. 

Open until December 26th. Find out more here

Montbéliard 

The picturesque city of Montbéliard in France's eastern Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region holds one of the country's most stunning Christmas markets.

The craft market is filled with handmade, traditional products, and there's festive light displays and illuminated streets, plus an ice rink for the adventurous.

Open until December 24th. Find out more here

Paris: L’Arche de Noël à la Défense

With an unlikely setting in the middle of the skyscrapers of Paris' business district (arguably not the merriest part of the city), it is in fact the largest of all the Christmas markets in Paris. Its 350 or so stalls are packed full of festive decorations, original presents and tasty treats. 

Open until December 28th. Find out more here

By Jean-Baptiste Andrieux

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

WEATHER

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: www.meteofrance.com

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. 

SHOW COMMENTS