Where are the best Christmas markets in France?

If you’re looking for the best Christmas markets in France, you’re in for a treat. The whole country lights up at Christmas time with dazzling markets, beautiful decorations, old-world traditions, local handicrafts and delicious food and wine in every region. From the spectacular Christmas markets in Paris to the traditional markets in the North and South of France, there are endless choices. So where to go first? We’ve put together our favourite Christmas markets in France, where you’ll find all the French mulled wine and Yuletide magic you could dream of. Joyeux Noël!

Strasbourg

Famed as the ‘Capital of Christmas’, Strasbourg has got their Yuletide celebrations down to a fine art. They put on one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and it’s also the oldest Christmas market in France, dating back to 1570. Even better, since the city is the capital of Alsace, a French region near Germany and Switzerland, all three countries have inspired the magical Christmas market.

There are around 300 cosy wooden chalets spread throughout the city where you’ll find a trove of handmade crafts. You’ll also love the authentic local delicacies including superb wines, bredle Christmas cookies, and pain d’epices (a French version of ginger loaf). 

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It’s a magical experience just soaking up the festive atmosphere and old-world charm, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you wander the cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses and glittering ornaments.

Be sure to stop by the market’s central hub in Place Broglie and Cathedral Square, where you can warm up on the giant ice rink and marvel at the 30-metre-high ‘Great Christmas Tree’. 

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Colmar

Colmar is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with flower-lined canals, cobbled streets, medieval half-timbered houses and Gothic churches galore. It’s like something out of a fairytale, and it becomes even more enchanting in winter when the Christmas markets wrap the Old Town in a warm glow of twinkling lights.

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There are many different markets with something for everyone, including an indoor craft market at the Renaissance Koïfhus building and a gourmet food market in Place de la Cathédrale. If you’ve got kids, you have to visit La Petite Venise where you’ll find a postbox for letters to Santa Claus, a nativity scene, a wooden carousel, and all kinds of sweet treats, toys and stocking fillers.

Since Colmar is in the famous Alsace wine region of France, you’ve also got to sample the local festive wines, including vin chaud rouge. It’s the French version of the Germany glühwein, a warm mulled wine made with orange, honey and cinnamon. There’s also the delicious white wine version, vin chaud blanc. However you choose to warm up, the Colmar Christmas markets are sure to be an experience you’ll treasure forever.

Paris

Want to kick off your trip around the best Christmas markets in France in spectacular fashion? Start in Paris! The iconic capital of France is one of the world’s most visited cities, and it gets even better in winter when the many Christmas markets fill the city with festive cheer and glittering lights.

The most famous Paris Christmas market is at the Jardin des Tuileries down the road from the Champs-Elysées. This gorgeous garden is set in front of the Louvre, and you’ll find dozens of wooden chalets selling all kinds of handicrafts, toys, jewellery and artworks. You can also munch on plenty of French treats like waffles, crepes and hot onion soup that warms the soul.

There’s also the famous Christmas markets held at Saint Germain des Pres, Trocadero and Hotel de Ville, along with the enormous Village de Noël Christmas market in the Paris’ La Défense business district. Here, the gleaming skyscrapers stand in contrast to the 300 wooden chalets selling charming Christmas crafts, along with classic festive treats like mulled wine. If you love Paris, you’ve got to see it glowing in all its Yuletide magic!

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Rouen

As the capital of Normandy, there’s plenty of reasons to visit Rouen. Set on the River Seine, it’s an architectural paradise with colourful half-timbered houses, Gothic churches and spires and cobblestone streets. The city also pulls out all the stops to create one of the most magical Christmas markets in France. 

The grand cathedral looms over the market, where over 70 wooden chalets sell handicrafts and treasures from across the country. There are endless concerts, music and games to enjoy, and you’ll love skating on the ice rink. Stop and watch the street performers, or even meet Santa Claus when he stops by the town.

Avignon

As one of the most beloved cities in Provence, you can’t miss the Christmas markets here. The city turns into a winter wonderland with over 60 stalls serving up Provençale-style fabrics, candles and jewellery. Don’t miss seeing the gorgeous Santons, the traditional painted terracotta nativity figures. 

It’s also a great place to stock up on chocolate, nougat and spice cake and you can’t resist snacking on local treats while enjoying the live entertainment on the twinkling streets. Be sure to check out the famous nativity scene, and admire all the glowing buildings around Place de l’Horloge.

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Nice

You might think the French Riviera is strictly a summer destination, but it lights up in winter too. We love the festive season in Nice where you’ll find the famous Nice Christmas Market. Swap the beach for the ice and go skating on the ice rink, then warm up with a hot vin chaud. You can also browse through over 60 stalls selling all kinds of local handicrafts and gifts. 

There’s plenty of fun for kids and adults alike, with show rides and a giant Ferris wheel dishing up views over Nice’s Old Town and the Mediterranean sea. You can even visit the Christmas workshop where you can meet the jolly man himself, Santa Claus. 

Caen

This historic port city in France’s Normandy region is famed for its ancient castle built by William the Conqueror, and its memorial museums devoted to the Battle of Normandy and WWII. But you’ll also find a very special Christmas market here.

Held in Place Saint-Sauveur in the heart of the city, you’ll probably smell it before you see it, with the aromas of mulled wine and pain d’epices filling the air. As you set eyes on the fairy lights and traditional stalls lining the cobbled streets, you’ll quickly fall in love with this charming town. 

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Bordeaux

Famed as the heart and soul of France’s renowned wine-growing region, Bordeaux puts on one of the most gorgeous Christmas markets in France.

Head to the Allées de Tourny at the centre of town, and you’ll discover a charming carousel and over 100 Christmas-themed stables offering Yuletide crafts and gifts, and delicious food and drinks.  And if there’s any place to try France’s fine wine, it’s here. Whether you like it warm or cold, it’s sure to get you into the merry Christmas spirit!

Hauts-de-France

The region of Hauts-de-France (Upper France) really comes alive in winter, with many towns transforming into a Yuletide paradise. 

Amiens is one of our favourite little towns in the region, and if you’ve got a long Christmas gift list, this is the place to be. There are over 130 chalets stretching for over two kilometres, with all kinds of handmade gifts and local delicacies from France and international vendors.

We also love Lille, another little town that lights up at Christmas-time with a festive atmosphere that warms the soul. Head to Place Rihour to find more than 90 chalets overflowing with traditional handicrafts. You’ll also find ornate decorations, traditional nativity figurines and of course, delicious festive food.

You can try local specialities like French macarons, bread, cheese and hot dogs. There’s also plenty of international delights coming from as far as Russia, Poland, Canada and the US. Be sure to bring your camera to snap some photos of the beautiful town centre dressed in garlands and the giant Ferris wheel in the main Grand Place.

Are you dreaming of visiting the Christmas markets in France? Let us know in the comments below!

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