We’re thrilled to say that Christmas markets are back and better than ever this year! After having to forgo these beloved traditional holiday festivities during the global pandemic, this holiday season we can once more look forward to twinkling lights, adorable stalls selling trinkets and gifts, delicious traditional marché food and comforting vin chaud (mulled wine). In France, there are quite a few of these magical markets to choose from…
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Read on to discover just a few of France’s best Christmas markets!
If you are lucky enough to be in Paris for December, you’ll have your pick of several of France’s best Christmas markets. Begin your tour around Gare de l’Est’s Alsacien market, filled with all the winter specialities that Alsace has to offer. Afterward, head towards the Seine and admire the fairyland that is Notre-Dame’s Christmas market, complete with nativities and Santas galore. The capital’s most impressive holiday celebration is waiting to be found at the feet of the Iron Lady herself, on Champ de Mars, where hundreds of stands sprawl between iconic landmarks. Locals and tourists alike flock to admire all the holiday-themed lights and decorations that somehow achieve the impossible task of magnifying the beauty of the City of Light.
Throughout November & December
Hours & dates vary depending on the location
Next on our list of the best Christmas markets is a place that is fondly dubbed the “Christmas capital” of France – in Strasbourg. Arguably the most famous and impressive, Strasbourg’s market takes place throughout the entire city and has a bit of a nostalgic vintage feel that draws crowds from all over the world, far and wide. After you’re immersed yourself in the more than 300 “chalets” filled with holiday gifts and imbibing in a raclette and a mulled wine, don’t be afraid to stray off the beaten path for a stroll down the cobbled streets of the Old Town. As they say in Strasbourg, “allumons les étoiles 1” (“let’s light the stars!”).
From November 26th to December 26th (closed on the 25th)
7 days a week from 11:00am until 8pm
Throughout Strasbourg’s historical center: la Grande Île
Unlike Strasbourg, Lille’s Christmas market is a bit more concentrated and centered inside the city, but it is very easy to find thanks to the iconic white Ferris wheel in Place Rihour. And only just smaller than the wheel, Lille’s massive annual Christmas tree is also a sight to behold, towering 60 plus feet above the gleeful crowds. As is the case for most things, this Christmas market is particularly enjoyable when viewed from the top of the wheel, hands snugly tucked around a steaming cup of mulled wine from one of the stands.
From November 19th to December 30th (closed on the 25th)
7 days a week from 11am until 8:30pm
Lesser-known but still firmly on our list is the Christmas market in Avignon. Running throughout December, primarily on Cours Jean Jaurès and Place de l’Horloge, the fair also spreads through to the rest of the city thanks to its colorful, twinkling lights and whimsical Chemin des Crèches (Path of the Nativities), which takes visitors on a delightful stroll through the town to discover the traditional “santons” figurines, hand-painted and formed from wood or clay.
From November 26 until the end of December
10:00am until 7:30pm during the week, until 8:30pm on weekends
Cours Jean Jaurès and Place de l’Horloge
Widely considered to be one of France’s most magnificent Christmas markets, the celebrations in Metz spread across five different areas of the city, bringing holiday cheer to all involved: the twinkling lights, the charming stands, the pink Ferris wheel… visitors of all ages will delight in the festivities. Also one of the coldest cities in France, the mulled wine is particularly appreciated here, as is its child-friendly cousin – warm apple juice.
From November 19th to December 31st (closed on the 25th)
7 days a week from 11:00am until 8:00pm (10pm on Saturdays)
Throughout Metz, most notably on Place de la République