Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit the French Christmas Markets
When it comes to Christmas Markets, France has something to say. From late November, the run-up to Christmas sees town squares all over the country filled with festively decorated Christmas Markets selling handcrafted goods and delicious food.
The best Christmas Markets in France are also the perfect places to learn about Christmas traditions in France and what to eat.
If you’re looking for beautiful French Christmas markets to visit during your Christmas holiday in France, this post is for you. Here, travel experts and friends bring us the most unique and prettiest France Christmas Markets to add to your list.
Best Christmas Markets – France 2023
The French capital is one of the best places to visit in France in the winter, with many seasonal activities and temporary exhibitions of all kinds apart from the usual tourist sights.
There are many Christmas Markets in Paris, but the Tuileries Christmas Market is always one of the favorites. This market is located in one of the side alleys of the historic Tuileries Gardens, and it replaces the Champs Elysées Christmas Market.
The Tuileries Christmas Market is one of the biggest markets in the city. It has around 100 wooden stalls, with handicrafts, food, drinks, and other beautiful products, perfect for Christmas gifts. This French Christmas Market is beautifully adorned with Christmas lights and decorations, and there’s also a 20-meter Christmas tree.
The Tuileries Christmas Market is an excellent place to hang around in Paris for an hour or two, perhaps after visiting the Louvre Museum. Apart from shopping and eating, there are many activities for kids and adults: an ice skating rink, funfair games and rides, a Ferris wheel, and more.
By Elisa from World in Paris
As Strasbourg sits on the border with Germany, some of the German traditions of Christmas have become part of Strasbourg’s culture. There is s huge Christmas tree, many lights, and lots of Christmas decorations in the old town of Strasbourg. It truly feels like a Christmas wonderland!
Considered the best Christmas Market in France, the Strasbourg Christmas Market is actually made up of multiple markets. Each square is a separate market with a different theme. They have the classic style of market as well as the alternative market, where you can find vintage and fair-trade items.
Aside from the 300 stalls you can shop at, it’s also a must to go into the Strasbourg Cathedral to see the multiple nativity scenes set up in the church. There is also a skating rink in front of the Christmas Tree in Place Kléber.
There are tons of food to try in Strasbourg. The markets have everything from traditional hot drinks like cider and mulled white wine to Alsatian cookies and gingerbread and sausages.
By Brianna from Curious Travel Bug
The Christmas Market in the Provençal city of Aix-en-Provence runs right through from the end of November to the end of December. Spanning the entire length of Aix’s main boulevard, Cours Mirabeau, the month-long markets are a must-do if you’re staying in Aix during winter.
The iconic wooden chalets of this France Christmas Market are lavishly decorated by the artisans who occupy them and create a magical atmosphere in the city. Around 50 local producers sell their wares at the market, and it’s a fantastic place to pick up handcrafted gifts, local delicacies, and regional specialties. Grab a warm cup of vin chaud, nibble on a sugared waffle, and stroll the entire length of the Avenue before doubling back and sampling the other side!
If you need to rest your feet in between the shopping, there are a number of cafés lining the street that you can settle into and indulge in a little people-watching. And of course, as the gateway to the Old Town, there are plenty more boutiques in the surrounding streets if you wish to continue your shopping journey further! Little ones are catered for too, with the usual arrangement of rides and games scattered around the Rotonde.
The market is at its liveliest in the week leading up to Christmas, so if you don’t mind the crowds (Aix doesn’t get nearly as busy as some other Christmas markets in France), this is the best time to go. Be sure to pick up a Santon figurine that is specific to the Provence region, and sample at least one of the ‘thirteen desserts of Christmas.’
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
What makes this market in Colmar exceptionally special is that Christmas is brought to life. The sound of Christmas carols fills the air, and a real-life Santa Claus can be spotted strolling the snowy streets with his donkey. The architecture in Colmar has a German touch, and alleys have canals around every corner. Witness a nativity scene that displays real livestock and visit the market at 17:00 to get a glimpse of the children’s choir.
Enjoy a culinary show followed by the concoctions of master restauranteurs available at the standing bar. Around sixty chalets sell crafts, including ornaments for your Christmas tree. Stalls focus mainly on one type of good at a time, offering selections of cold meats, wines, liqueurs, and baked goods. Craft stalls display ceramics and pottery, with master artisans on-site tailoring to requests from the public.
The decorated wine cellars offer tastings and an opportunity to meet local winemakers. The Musée du Jouet toy museum displays toy collections available for purchase, including an electric train set. From glass-makers to sculptors to jewelers, the markets satisfy the demands of artists and foodies alike. The Christmas markets attract tourists and locals each year to bask in its tradition of hospitality and passion.
By Chrysoula from Travel Passionate
5. Riquewihr Christmas Market 2023 (Grand Est)
- When: 25 November to 20 December 2023
- Where to Sleep in Riquewihr
One of the prettiest Alsace villages, Riquewihr becomes a Christmas wonderland during this festive time. It oozes an ambiance of warmth and cheer, making the town atmosphere something to be enjoyed.
One of the best things to do at the Riquewhir Christmas Market, France, is to see the illuminations on Friday and Saturday nights. The colors attract lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as half-timbered medieval buildings become illuminated.
Three things you need to try in the market are Vin Chaud aux Epices (Mulled Wine), delectable nougat cut from a massive block, and Bredalas (a variety of small biscuits).
Riquewihr is your fairy-tale Christmas market with century-old traditions and Christmas illuminations, making it the perfect Christmas market in France.
By Terry and Maura from Travel Kiwis
During the festivities of Saint-Nicolas, several Christmas Markets (named here Villages de Saint-Nicolas) settle throughout Nancy, and they largely participate in the special magical atmosphere of Christmas in Nancy.
Le Grand Village de Saint-Nicolas is Nancy’s most important Christmas Market. It is located in Place Charles III, in the Ville Neuve, and more precisely between the covered market and the San Sebastian shopping center. Explore one of the best French Christmas Markets in Eastern France, with its more than sixty wooden stalls decorated with twinkling garlands and full of gift ideas, seasonal delicacies so typical of the region, and mulled wine.
Don’t miss the 100% craftsmen cluster in the Nancy Christmas Market, around the magnificent carousel in the heart of the Village!
Close to the border with Germany, Obernai is one of Alsace’s prettiest towns. It might not be as well known as nearby Strasbourg and Colmar, but Obernai is overflowing with charm. And during the festive season, Christmas market stalls fill its cobbled streets and the half-timbered buildings are swathed with sparkling illuminations and decorations.
The Obernai Christmas Markets is centered around the Place du Marché, where you’ll find a giant Christmas tree, a model village, and a Petit Train for kids. Stalls spread out into Place Neher, Place du Beffroi, and Place de l’Étoile, with the tourist office offering walking tours and biscuit-making classes.
This Alsace Christmas Market specializes in gastronomy and crafts, so look out for tasty local specialties like flammkuchen, pretzels, bredeles (Christmas biscuits), and mannele (brioche gingerbread men). And being a wine region, don’t miss the vin chaud – instead of the regular red, there’s a delicious spiced white version made with local Sylvaner wine.
By Lucy from On the Luce
The Clermont-Ferrand Christmas Market is held in the city of Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne’s capital. Located at the Place de la Victoire by the iconic Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral, the 30-year-old Christmas Market offers plenty of activities during the month-long presence. The central location in the old part of the city is perfect for exploring the narrow streets and visiting the famous Cathedral, one of the top things to do in Clermont-Ferrand.
This Christmas Market in France is composed of over 60 stands spread across different ‘villages.’ ‘Le Coin des Lutins’ is dedicated to children with a Santa Claus stand, treasure hunts, makeup stand, and magic shows. Local producers showcase their handicrafts and homemade food productions at the ‘Fabrique de Noël’ village. The ‘Burons Gourmands’ offer local specialties ready for tasting, all while visitors can listen to concerts on Friday evenings. Concerts will cover jazz bands, pop rocks, and Gospel performances from 6:30 pm.
A Christmas Parade (date TBD) runs from Place Delille through the Place de la Victoire and ends at the Place de Jaude where the Christmas Tree and Ferris Wheel will continue to convey the holiday spirit.
By Ze Wandering Frogs
Visit the Nantes Christmas Market, the biggest French Christmas Market (and one of the most beautiful) in the west! The market takes place in Place du Commerce and Place Royale, in central Nantes, with more than 100 chalets proposing gift ideas for the winter holidays, regional products and drinks, jewelry, and other accessories.
Of course, the Nantes Christmas Market is also the occasion to discover animations, fanfare, and other street performances. There is also a beautiful carousel, and Christmas songs are played in the market every evening from 5 pm.
Don’t miss the Christmas Market’s inauguration show, this year on Friday 25 November. The show starts at 5 pm with the Déambulation des Échassiers (see the cover picture) and goes on with different fanfare.
Visit the Village de Noël of Sarlat, one of the best Christmas Markets in France 2023. Located in the Périgord Noir, Dordogne, this is the second most important Christmas Market in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and every year it honors a different country. Which country will be the guest this year?
The 70 or so wooden chalets in Sarlat are spread between Place de la Grande Rigaudie and Place du 14 Juillet, and they offer beautiful Christmas gifts and seasonal food. There is also a tavern proposing regional wines, artisan beer, and the unmissable vin-chaud, while the more sporty will have fun at the ice rink, with soirées dance floor every Saturday.
In addition, the market proposes many activities for kids and adults: magic shows, circus, music, and Christmas tales.
The medieval town of Provins hosts during winter holidays Le Marché Médiéval de Noël, a beautiful and authentic medieval Christmas Market just like in medieval times! Head to the Old Town, beautifully decorated for the occasion, and discover demonstrator artisans, all in medieval costumes, who will revive an almost forgotten know-how for you.
Entertaining and authentic, the medieval Christmas Market of Provins is one of the best-themed Christmas Markets in France, and it delights young and adults. Warm up by dancing at the Medieval Ball, taste medieval products, and admire the prowess of jugglers and fire shows.
Provins is an easy day trip from Paris by train. Still, we recommend spending the night on-site to admire the unique and magical atmosphere of the market in the evening, illuminated by hundreds of candles.
The Nice Christmas Market is a must-visit attraction in Nice if you want some Christmas spirit, to do some shopping, or just want to hang out somewhere with a great vibe. This Christmas Market in France, Côte d’Azur, is located in a very central location in Jardin Albert, next to the Old Town and the shore which makes visiting it a very easy thing to do during your Nice stay.
The market itself is a nice combination of attractions. There are 60 chalets selling a range of products as well as a food area with plenty of choices. There are also some amusement park rides, including a giant Ferris Wheel which has great views over the market.
If you like ice skating, there is also a rink as well as the big red man himself in his own little house.
For kids, there are also special Christmas-themed shows. We almost missed this as it is off to the side. After you walk past the rides in the direction of the chalets, look for a path to the right for the shows and Santa.
By Sharon from Dive into Malaysia
Don’t miss Béthune’s Christmas Market, considered one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in France. The Cité de Noël, located in the medieval Grand Place de Béthune and surrounded by beautiful historic houses and belfries, offers five weeks of wonder and magic to locals and visitors.
For the occasion, the beautiful Grand Place of Béthune is filled with wooden chalets and fairy decorations to welcome local and regional artisans who offer seasonal culinary products and gift ideas for the end of the winter holidays.
The Cité de Noël is completed by rides and animations for children: a carousel, ice rink, Ferris wheel, a small train, workshops, and concerts.
Don’t miss the Christmas Market’s highlight: on the evening of December 24, Santa and his elves descend from the top of the historic Belfry of Béthune! This is a magical show perfect for children and adults.
France is truly a stunning country to explore, especially during the Christmas season. Don’t miss visiting one of the best Christmas Markets in France during your Christmas holiday in France!
Cover picture: Déambulation des Échassiers, Nantes Christmas Market. Photo courtesy: Métropole Nantes – Rodolphe Delaroque ©