French Connections

The month-long Christmas Market in Lille is the largest in Northern France and has been a tradition for centuries. A popular destination for British visitors because of the Eurostar link, the festival is held in the Place Rihour in the town centre.

About the Market

The month long Christmas Market in Lille is the largest in Northern France and has been a tradition for centuries. A popular destination for British visitors because of the Eurostar link, the festival is held in the Place Rihour in the towns centre. Entertainments include a funfair, concerts, and exhibitions and of course Father Christmas, who is available throughout the festival so children can have their photo taken with him. The market takes over the Place Rihour with over 50 stalls offering a vast range of local products and original gifts.

There is a special spectacular event on the Saturday before Christmas - when Father Christmas "falls" from the Chamber of Commerce's 80-metre-high Belfry!

More About Lille

Most of the shops are open Monday through Saturday, from 10:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. and are closed on Sundays (except for the 3 Sundays before Christmas and the first Sunday of the summer and winter sales). There are shops to suit all tastes and budgets, from great names in luxury goods, fashion and design to antique shops. In the town’s pedestrianised centre, you will find the larger department stores. On the Grand Place, the Furet du Nord is one of the biggest bookshops in Europe!

There are a number of places of interest in the town including the Citadelle park and fortress, a beautiful example of 17th century military architecture, the Grand Place, focal point of life in Lille, the rue de la Monnaie where coins were minted so many years ago and the Opera House in the Place du Theatre.


Accommodation in central Lille gets booked fast during the Christmas market period. Alternatively you may want to try charming rural self catering accommodation near Lille, as during the winter months many holiday property owners allow short stays.

Transport quick facts about the markets:

Free Parking: No
Pay Parking: No
Coach Parking: No
Nearest Bus Route: Various
Nearest Railway Station: Gare Lille Europe - 4 minutes from the market
Nearest Tram Stop: Metro
Nearest Tube Station: Metro
Nearest Airport: Aerodrome de Lille-Lesquin - 15 minutes from the market
Nearest Ferry Port: Calais - 1 hour 10 minutes from Lille (see our route planner for driving directions)

Getting there

Suggested Travel Routes

Choosing to travel by train to France is a simple option. It’s fast and cost effective and also allows you to enjoy the beautiful French countryside. With a great rail network in place, it has never been easier to get to France by train.

As a foot passenger from the UK to Lille:

By Train: from as little as £55 return, you can take Eurostar direct from St Pancras International in London to Lille, in under 2 ½ hours. Trains run regularly departing London from 7am and the last return journey 9.13pm from Lille, Monday to Sunday. Connections can also be picked up from Ashford or Ebbsfleet. Book Eurostar and TGV tickets.

By Plane: it is worth checking online to find out which airlines are offering the best deals at the time, but as an example, you can fly direct to Lille from either Gatwick, Heathrow or London City with Airfrance.Book cheap flights to France.

Taking your car from the UK to Lille:

By Train: take your car on Eurotunnel from Folkestone, Kent direct to Calais in France. Journey time is about 35 minutes and the cost varies but is around £55 day trip return for a car and 5 passengers.

By Boat: It is usually cheaper to take a car over to France by boat, because the journey takes longer. Operators such as Seafrance and P&O offer regular ferry trips across the channel, with prices ranging from around £30 for a return day trip. Book a ferry to France.

The drive from Calais to Lille is just over an hour.

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