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CREDIT: Christophe Hamm, Strasbourg Tourist Office

Pretty much every town in France holds a Christmas market, some are tiny and last a few hours, some are huge and last for several weeks. We take a look at three of our favourite Christmas venues in France 2015, chosen for their fabulous market or in the case of Vaux-le-Vicomte - sheer loveliness.

Strasbourg – AKA the Capital of Christmas

The oldest and one of the largest Christmas markets in France, the Strasbourg Christmas market has been going since the Middle Ages and spreads throughout the city. With more than 300 stalls, this is the place to buy great arts and crafts – glass paintings, marquetry, music boxes, embroidered tablecloths and earthenware pottery. The food stalls will certainly tempt you with spiced bread, kugelhopf cake, berawecka cake, traditional bredle cakes, mulled wine and, of course, foie gras.

Every year, in Place Kléber, a Christmas tree, reputedly the largest in Europe, is decorated with colourful ornaments and shimmering lights. The city is adorned in its most beautiful finery and the houses are richly decorated. At nightfall, the magic comes alive. The windows light up and the streets and squares, all connected by a network of light, give off their different scents amid sparkling decors. The “Carré d’Or” is especially spectacular, such as the rue des Hallebardes, with its magnificent crystal chandeliers.  Throughout December, Strasbourg is the most illuminated city in Europe.

From 24 November to 31 December 2017; for details see the tourist office website: otstrasbourg.fr/en

Champagne Christmas

CREDIT: Carmen Mora, Reims Tourist Office

Champagne is perfect to toast your friends and loved ones at Christmas and Champagne the region is the perfect place to enjoy a traditional Christmas celebration.

The ‘World Nativity Scene Route’ is an astonishing collection of crib scenes of all shapes, sizes, materials, and origin, from hand-knitted scenes to historic hand-carved figures, all with their own unique charm. The cribs are on show throughout December in and around the churches of 46 towns and villages between the coronation city of Reims, Epernay capital of Champagne, Châlons-en-Champagne and the historic town of Fismes.

Many of the towns and villages taking part also have a programme of fabulous Christmas illuminations, festivities and events, such as Christmas markets, exhibitions, and concerts.

The full programme, including the dates and times of the animations, can be found online at www.champagne-ardenne-tourism.co.uk

The Christmas market at Reims is the biggest in the region and amongst the largest in France with 135 chalets offering a range of gourmet products, arts and crafts and creative gift suggestions. What makes this special is that it’s held in the tree-lined, beautifully illuminated and decorated pedestrian streets around Place d’Erlon and offers spectacular views over the city from a Ferris Wheel.

From 23 November to 27 December 2017; more details: www.reims-tourism.com

Chateau Vaux Le Vicomte, Ile de France

CREDIT: Daniel Minca, Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château located in Maincy, near Melun, 55 km southeast of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne department of France and at Christmas this truly lovely castle becomes a festive wonderland.

Wander along a tree-lined avenue festooned with lights. Inside this beautiful chateau you’ll find fairy tale decorations and beautiful garlands adorning the lights, chimneys and tables – 8000 decorations to be precise! Crackling fires keep you warm and cosy and pyramids of sweets and chocolate bring out the gourmet in you.  In the centre of the Great Hall instead of the usual 8-metre-high tree, there’s even a Ferris Wheel inside the chateau - giving amazing roof top views!

At dusk, the famous gardens, designed by French gardener André le Nôtre, are illuminated and on some nights theatrical events takes place.

From 25 November 2017 to 7 January 2018; check opening times on the website: www.vaux-le-vicomte.com

Enjoy the festive spirit in France – we’ve got loads of fabulous gites, villas and B&Bs, perfect for two, families and friends…