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It’s the season for magical French Christmas markets to shimmer into life all over France. So many cities and towns stage these fabulous mixtures of shopping, community and carnival – and the markets really do capture the traditional magic of Christmas as a season of light, good food and family feeling.

The markets are really worth a visit for both their atmosphere and the great shopping. We know that many Francophiles and lovers of traditional Christmas spirit go every year for a market mini-break. For seasoned visitors and first-timers alike, our guide to the Christmas markets of France is indispensable. We’ve put together detailed information on over twenty of the top markets, from north to south and from small towns to large cities.

Our guide lists the top markets and for each one paints a picture of the place, setting and character, the variety of products on sale and special events taking place. We also give dates, travel information and links to a range of self-catering accommodation and B&Bs in the area to enable you to plan your trip.

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Strasbourg Christmas market is the oldest and one of the largest in France with a breath taking setting in front of the Cathedral. Mulhouse market reflects the architecture of the Alsace region with half-timbered stalls featuring exceptional fabrics.

Easily accessible by car from the UK are the towns of Northern France. Arras holds a spectacular Christmas market on the splendid Grand Place with lots of arts and crafts. The market at Béthune features Flemish-style chalets selling festive crafts, regional produce and other gifts.

Licques is famous for its traditional turkey parade and the market sells quality, traditionally-reared organic poultry. Amiens Christmas market, one of the largest in northern France, has an alpine flavour and sells kitchenware, fine crystal and hand-made glass, as well as a variety of fish.

For anyone who fancies a trip further south, the markets in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Avignon and Menton are all celebrated events with real local character – and easily accessible by the TGV train.

Most markets run from around the third week of November to either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve and all include events and parades that enhance the fun, spectacle and sense of community.

Browse our Guide to Christmas Markets in France