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  • It’s the magical Christmas market season! All over France cities stage these fabulous mixtures of shopping, community and carnival to 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  - no wonder so many Francophiles and lovers of traditional Christmas spirit go every year for a market mini-break.  So where are this year’s Christmas market hotspots?

    Strasbourg market is really the daddy of them all. Dating back to 1570, it’s the oldest Christmas market in France and one of the largest. As if that weren’t enough, the setting in front of Strasbourg Cathedral is quite breathtaking. A must-see on a visit to Strasbourg market is La Petite France, a cosy neighborhood of timbered fairy-tale buildings with Christmas shops and a gingerbread bakery.

  • Made plans for the festive season yet? Christmas in France is magical, more traditional and less commercialised than in Britain. Our region of the month, Northern France, includes Paris which is transformed at this time of year, with lights twinkling along the Seine, streets lined with decorated fir trees and Christmas Markets springing up around the city.

    I love the idea of renting one of our cosy apartments in Paris for Christmas, shopping for presents in the chic department stores like Printemps for fashion and Galeries Lafayette for exotic foods and wonderful wines. Even outside the very centre, in trendy arrondissements, there are enticing local cafes and oh-so-French restaurants.

    I could wander the avenues, feasting my eyes on creative festive lights and tasteful shop windows, then maybe drop into a gallery or museum for some uplifting art and take time out in Notre Dame. Oh, and I’d have to go skating, take a trip on a bateau mouche and browse the Christmas markets for decorations that would grace my temporary Paris home and come out every year afterwards.

    For a big family or group Christmas, Northern France is an excellent destination and we have many country houses very close to lovely small towns where the Christmas spirit reigns with a very French, almost understated appeal. Some have fantastic special offers for the Christmas period.

    Browse our guides to Northern France and Paris and grab a festive season Special Offer.

  • The best Christmas market in France for crystal and Le Creuset is Amiens; at Licques market there’s a turkey parade, while Noisy le Grand, Paris offers hand crafted wooden toys and horse-drawn carriage rides. All this and more is in our comprehensive 2013 online guide to Christmas markets, a veritable treasure trove of information for lovers of these luscious shopping experience–cum-theatre events that are so special in France.

    Each market reflects the character of its location, so a visit is a good chance to discover a new area of France. Mulhouse market, for instance, is typically Alsatian, with half-timbered stalls featuring exceptional fabrics - and there’s mulled wine to sip on and little biscuits to nibble.

    The medieval town of Nancy, famous for its triumphal arch built to honor Louis XV, hosts its celebrated market in the historic Place Maginot, selling delicious fresh bread, spicy charcuterie, Bergamotte bonbons and mouthwatering macarons. Enjoyable Christmas activities here include carol singing, folk dancing and lively street entertainment.

    The guide lists around 25 markets – from Arras in the North to Avignon in the South - all in complete and tantalising detail, including location, goods for sale, food specialities and associated events. It also gives options for travel by road, rail and air and local accommodation, both hotels at discounted rates and self-catering options.

    So, what are you waiting for? To plan your trip, browse our 2013 guide to Christmas markets in France

  • Just a hop across the Channel from south east England lies the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. When visiting France, we often get on the autoroute and drive quickly through, but this is an area that deserves exploration – and it’s our region of the month for November.

    Christmas shopping is a great excuse for a long weekend or midweek short break before the flurry of the festive season sets in and in Nord-Pas-de-Calais you’ll find everything from speciality wine cellars and France’s most famous cheese boutique to big names in European retail at the modern shopping city of Cite Europe near Calais.

    The region is proud of its gastronomy and local beers, along with traditions where fairs, fêtes and festivals are so much a part of daily life – and it’s full of enchanting Christmas markets.

    Big Christmas markets are held at Amiens, Arras, Lille, Bethune,  Calais and Boulogne. Follow the link below to our complete guide with all the details. At Licques the market is accompanied by a famous turkey parade with hundreds of turkeys rampaging through the town’s streets. Spectators are given a glass of the local liqueur, Licquoise, and then have the chance to buy a turkey. Beats the local supermarket!

    The region also offers varied landscapes of forests, meadows and marshlands, an unspoilt coastline that stretches for miles, Regional Natural Parks, a network of waterways and lots of historic sites. For great places to stay and visit in the region, check out our accommodation and guide to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais

  • Fancy doing something different this Christmas? Make the festive season a really feel-good time with a trip to France. Pop across before the event to savour the delights of Christmas markets and pick up some wine bargains; spend the holiday in traditional style in the countryside or a  French town; take family and friends for a fun New Year celebration.

  • I love Christmas shopping in France – especially at atmospheric French Christmas markets. Food, wine and presents from France have an extra cachet – and they offer great value with nice finishing touches like tasteful Christmas wrapping. And there’s no need to go far because the Pas de Calais - the area closest to the ferry port and Eurotunnel terminal and our region of the month – has all you need for a Christmas shopping break.

    Christmas shopping is a great excuse for a long weekend or midweek short break before the flurry of the festive season sets in. In the Pas de Calais region we have owners offering cosy gites, studios, converted barns, country houses and chateaux that are ideal for a November or December stay and close enough to restaurants for some relaxing nights to enjoy the local cuisine after you’ve shopped and dropped.

  • When a young lady of my acquaintance recently turned 18, her dad asked where she would like to go for a celebratory trip. Her immediate answer was Paris. When friends wanted a romantic weekend for their 30th wedding anniversary, their choice too was – Paris. The city of light is irresistible to all ages and outlooks. Everyone can find beauty, entertainment, adventure, history and unforgettable food to satisfy their longing for the romance and fun of this great city.

    In the run up to Christmas, the city basks in even more light than usual, with street decorations and illuminations, shops stuffed with goodies, an air of anticipation and several enticing Paris Christmas markets. Don't you want to be there right now?

  • 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 2015 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.

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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 Franceis 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.

     avignon marche de noel copyright ville d'avignon jp campomar

    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

  • We know that regular visitors to France love to discover new regions off the main tourist routes and our region of the month for October is a real gem. The Drôme (department number 26) is named for its river and located in the Rhône-Alpes, just north of Provence. In fact, the southern Drôme Provencal enjoys a Mediterranean micro climate and is abundant with olives, apricots, aromatic herbs and lavender fields stretching right to the foot of the mountains.