The best Christmas markets in France

France boasts the second largest number of Christmas markets (Marchés de Noël) in Europe, after Germany. Although they take place throughout the countryside, the greatest concentration is found in Alsace and northern France where they have been a popular event since the 16th century.

Strasbourg

Reims, Champagne

Clustered in front of the UNESCO-protected Reims Cathedral and in the Palace of Tau courtyard, a collection of wooden chalets strewn with fairy lights sell Christmas gifts and treats including glass and ceramic works.
Until December 28

Reims Champagne


Mulhouse, Alsace

Place de la Réunion plays host to a Christmas market which some believe is Europe’s most colourful. Much of the stalls specialise in the town’s cloth-making heritage, others sell local French goods including bredele (an Alsatian-style biscuit), cheese, wine and gingerbread.
Until December 29

Mulhouse Alsace


Strasbourg, Alsace

The city’s Christkindelsmärik (market of the baby Jesus) is the oldest Christmas market in France and takes place near the city’s famous Gothic cathedral. The market celebrates the work of hundreds of skilled craftsmen and women who sell their handmade goods.
Until December 30

Strasbourg


Colmar, Haut-Rhin

Not one but six Christmas markets take over the attractive medieval town of Colmar in the Alsace whose timber-framed buildings and pedestrianised town centre provide the ideal backdrop decorated with fairy lights and bunting.
Until December 29

Colmar Haut Rhin


La Défense, Paris

The French capital’s business district doesn’t seem like the most likely setting for a Christmas market but for sheer scale and variety the Village de Noël shouldn’t be missed.
Until December 29

La Defense Paris


Montbéliard, Doubs

The eastern city holds one of the country’s most attractive markets which celebrates the traditional of Württemberg, with plenty of head-made and traditional products being sold throughout the many stands.
Until Christmas Eve

Montbéliard Doubs


Amiens, Northern France

Known in particular for its gourmet delights, people flock from all over the country to buy macaroons and tuiles amienoises (almond biscuits) as well as glass, soaps, and angora-wool jumpers in a long string of chalets that stretches over 2km.
Until December 31

Amiens Northern france


Lille, Northern France

One of the most easily accessible from the UK (the Eurostar serves the city direct), the Lille market attracts 900,000 visitors every year. There are approximately 100 stalls in the central Place Rihour which sell traditional food such as Maroilles cheese, chicory pate and babeluttes (soft caramels).
Until December 29

Lille


Bordeaux, Gironde

Something of a tradition for everyone in the region to visit, over 150 exhibitors sell unusual presents and crafts sourced from around the world.
Until December 30

Bordeuax Gironde


Avignon, Provence

The charming Provencal town is typically known for its santons (nativity scenes), delicious food products and regional specialities. Various nativity scenes are set up around the town in settings that are typical of characteristic Provence landscapes.
During the first three weeks of December

Avignon Provence


Did you know? Christmas traditions in France

  • Christmas Eve dinner (Le Réveillon de Noël) is eaten around midnight to celebrate the beginning of Christmas Day although increasingly more families start this meal on Christmas Day.
  • Papillotes are given out—they are chocolates (or candied fruits) wrapped in golden sparking paper with a note inside.
  • French children leave their shoes instead of stockings by the fireplace.
  • Christmas Dinner: turkey is eaten, but the meal might also include oysters, foie gras, lobster or venison. For pudding, a chocolate sponge log called bûche de Noël is eaten.
  • Epiphany, on January 6, is celebrated by buying a special tart which has a small porcelain object called a fève hidden inside. Whoever gets this is proclaimed the king or queen for the day.
  • Nativity scenes are displayed until La Chandeleur, February 2 which is 40 days after Christmas Day.


Properties for sale near France’s best Christmas markets

Avignon Christmas market
Enjoying a central position in Avignon, this four-bedroom townhouse has plenty of historic character.
€650,000 through Winkworth International.

Property 1 france market blog

La Défense and Paris Christmas markets
This one-bedroom pied-a-terre in the exclusive Palais Galliera district would be a perfect base to enjoy the French capital. The living room has direct views of the Eiffel Tower.
€1.29m through Winkworth International

Property 2 france market blog