Christmas markets are one of France’s great attractions at this time of year, going right through to the end of December. 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. There’s a sense of old-fashioned magic by day or after dark and wonderful, leisurely shopping opportunities for food, decorations and gifts.
Our guide to Christmas markets is a treasure trove of information, with complete details of around 25 markets – from Arras in the North to Avignon in the South. We give all you need to know in detail, including location, access and parking, goods for sale, food specialities and Christmas events. Find options for travel by road, rail and air and links to a range of accommodation in the surrounding areas for your short break or week.
Traditionally, housewives in rural France would spend the weeks before Noel preparing and baking typical local festive dishes and the markets grew from this tradition, which is still a really big part of French life.
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 and drinks for delicious Christmas recipes. You’ll also find unusual candles, decorations, figures for traditional nativity scenes, cards and ornaments for the Christmas tree with a touch of French style.
Many markets incorporate fun fairs, festivals of light and sound, Christmas parades and fun events, making a day trip or short shopping break even more alluring.