Christmas markets are one of France's great attractions at this time of year, creating a real sense of old-fashioned magic by day or after dark
Christmas markets are one of France's great attractions at this time of year, creating a real sense of old-fashioned magic by day or after dark. Lille is one of the big four, along with Paris, Strasbourg and Avignon, but in cities and towns across the country this festive tradition still thrives.
Traditionally, housewives in rural France would spend the weeks before Noel preparing and baking typical local festive dishes. The markets originated to supply them with all the ingredients they needed. These days, Christmas markets have a broader scope but are still loaded with atmosphere - and visiting one can be a heady sensuous experience.
Savour smells, sights and sounds and get immersed in the language as you weave in and out of enticing stalls laden with one-off handcrafted gifts and delectable foodstuffs for delicious Christmas recipes. You'll also find unusual candles, decorations, cards and ornaments for the Christmas tree with a touch of French style.
Many markets incorporate festivals, parades and fun events, making a day trip or short shopping break even more alluring.
For a list of Christmarkets in France click here.
The above picture is © Fédération Lilloise du Commerce.