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Our pick of the best Christmas markets in France

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

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

 

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