Discover France For Members

17 of the best Christmas markets in France

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
17 of the best Christmas markets in France
Christmas in Colmar. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

From huge and world-famous to small, cute and traditional - France has plenty of options for enjoying a Christmas market.



An early start to the seasonal celebrations in Nancy, as the city’s St Nicholas’ festival kicks off on November 24th, and runs to January 7th.

St Nicolas’ Day - December 6th - is a huge deal in Germany, and because of historic links to Germany many areas of north east France celebrate it as well.

In Nancy, they combine St Nicolas and Christmas into a 40-day festive celebration.


Strasbourg has hosted Christmas markets since around 1570, and has got pretty good at them down the centuries – it’s the reason the city brands itself as the ‘Christmas capital of France’. This year’s celebrations kick off on November 24th and run to December 24th - and the tree is already in place in Place Kleber. 

As usual, hundreds of chalets host local artisans selling Christmas gift ideas on the Grande Île, while the streets will be festooned – yes, festooned – with illuminations celebrating a very Alsace Christmas.


Strasbourg likes to boast that it is France’s ‘Christmas capital’, but smaller Colmar, less than an hour down the A35, has a Christmas market that’s just as perfectly formed – and features every single one of those Alsace-Lorraine festive traditions. It runs from November 23rd to December 29th this year.



Sticking in the Christmas-loving north-east of France, medieval Eguisheim – with its colourful Alsatian houses around the castle is a must-visit. Its authentic and traditional Christmas market is an opportunity to discover the local gastronomic products and enjoy a glass of vin chaud with the villagers. The Christmas market, along with its Veilleur de Nuit on the town ramparts, begins on November 24th and runs – with a three-day break between December 24th and 26th – until December 30th.


Mulhouse’s Christmas market takes place in a sea of Christmas fabric. Almost 10km of specially created festive material decorate the frontages, monuments and pedestrian streets in the city’s historical centre for the celebrations, which kick off on November 24th and run to December 27th.

READ ALSO Eight of the best winter experiences in France


Proving the north-east of France does not have a monopoly on Christmas market-themed traditions, Nice’s annual festivities run from December 7th to January 7th in and around Place Masséna and bring a little southern flavour, as well as a ferris wheel.

It's not a Christmas speciality, but try the local socca bread while you’re there.


In fact, the south of France has a Christmas tradition all its own, celebrated in Mouans-Sartoux - the Foire aux Santons opened on November 3rd and runs until December 24th. As well as the traditional mini-figures, used to populate seasonal creches, there’s a Christmas market, light festival and other events to celebrate. 


Another one on a slightly different note, Lyon's Fête des Lumières is a magnificent event which has made the reputation of the city. 

Between Thursday, December 7th and Sunday, December 10th, visitors from across the world are invited to enjoy enchanting walks in an ever-changing sea of light and sound - including large projections over some of the city’s most beautiful monuments. You’ll find incredible exhibitions displayed over the facades of major landmarks and scattered around the city as you walk (perhaps with a vin chaud in hand).


There’s also a more traditional Christmas market with dozens of illuminated chalets offering local products and arts and crafts. Lyon is known as the foodie capital of France, so enjoy superior food at the market. 


Montbéliard, on France’s border with Switzerland, calls its market “the Lights of Christmas”. During the advent period, from November 25th to December 24th, its picturesque city centre is illuminated with thousands of lights. 


The market gathers 160 craftsmen who sell authentic and traditional products. The good fairy of the Pays de Montbéliard Aunt Airie keeps local traditions going by telling her story to the children. 



From December 8th until January 6th, Brive, in the Corrèze, is in full festive mode. There’s a toboggan run, and a winter funfair, and a gourmet market, and musical entertainment in the city centre. And Santa pops by, too.


Lille starts celebrating Christmas on November 22nd, and doesn’t stop until December 31st.

Around 900,000 visitors a year head to the charming Christmas market in Flanders’ capital, which features local artisans and traders, as well as those from regions of France, Poland, Canada, and Germany.


The capital hosts several Christmas markets. Opposite the Eiffel Tower, for example, 60 wooden chalets spring up, where – from mid-December – artisans sell craft products and culinary wonders. This year, there’s also ice rink, board sports and various activities.

There are also markets at Notre-Dame, Montmartre, gare de l’Est, Auteuil, Trocadéro au Champs de Mars, the Tuileries, the Hôtel de Ville, and Saint-Germain des Prés.


On the other side of the periph’ the biggest Christmas Market in the greater Paris region is at La Defense, where some 180 chalets will be occupied by artisans and traders selling gifts for the season. It opened on November 16th and runs until December 27th.



From November 24th to December 27th, the Allées de Tourny is transformed into a Quebec-style winter wonderland, with the usual array of stalls selling festive gifts, and treats while the unmistakable aroma of a foodie Christmas fills the air.


Bayonne invites visitors to rediscover the magic of Christmas from December 1st to January 7th – the day before children head back to school – from the Ferris wheel on Place de la Liberté, Santa Claus village in Les Halles, Christmas market on Place du Réduit, lantern evenings, parades in town... to delight young and old alike.


Brittany does Christmas as only it can – with Santa arriving in the town on a two-masted sinagot (boat) for a tour of the town on a carriage to meet young and old, accompanied by korrigans of Breton folklore. The celebrations start on December 1st and last until January 7th, 2024.


There’s an add-on to the Christmas celebrations in the Tarn-et-Garonne capital of Montauban. Visitors can – from December 16th through to February 11th – enjoy a festival des lanterns in the Jardins des plantes.

Small towns

Most towns in France have some sort of Christmas market, even if it's just for a couple of days, and these are often more relaxed affairs than the big-city events.

Local craftsmen and shops take stalls and you can also try local food specialties - such as Toulouse sausage and aligot in the south, hot spiced cider in Brittany or the '12 desserts of Christmas' in Provence.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also