Mark Shimada

Experience the enchanting French Christmas Markets this season!

Les marchés de Noël in France

By Lilia Ahmed Ali

Can we talk about Christmas in France without mentioning the vibrant Christmas markets? Of course not! “Christmas markets” called (Marchés de Noël) are one of the main events held across the country during the weeks leading up to Christmas! 

Open to both locals and tourists, it's the place to be for anyone looking for Christmas gifts and decorations, handmade goodies, delicious traits, and local products. 

Or to just have a fun-filled evening or weekend with family and friends.

What's so magical about French Christmas markets? When do they start? And why is it a must-do when planning a trip to France during Christmas time? Let’s dive into it!

Some history about the French Christmas markets

Germany was the birthplace of the very first Christmas markets in the 14th century. It was known as "Marché de la Saint-Nicolas" (St. Nicholas Market) as it was traditionally held during the Advent period. This cherished tradition gradually spread beyond Germany, reaching other parts of the world, including France in 1570. Strasbourg, being close to the German border, hosted the first French Christmas market. 

Today, every December France organizes hundreds of markets, each showcasing the unique traditions of its regions. Following Strasbourg, Christmas Markets emerge in cities like Lille, Toulouse, Amiens, Paris, and numerous other ones.

Christmas Markets you can visit once in France

If you're in France this December, visit these top Christmas markets!

  • Alsace Christmas Markets. Explore the Strasbourg and Colmar Christmas Markets, the oldest and most vintage in France.

  • Metz Christmas Market. Metz Market is special because it covers five squares and and features over a hundred chalets. They're all nearby, making it easy for you to visit them.

  • Lille Christmas Market. It's known for its warm, animated atmosphere. It attracts visitors from all over France, Belgium, and Great Britain.

  • Paris Christmas Market. You'll be enchanted by the exquisite Parisian elegance all around.

The Festive Ambiance

The French Christmas markets are filled with live music, vibrant animations, breathtaking lights, and charming decorations that adorn the streets, creating a fun and magical atmosphere for visitors.

They offer the perfect atmosphere for shopping and exploring the different cities. You'll find everything you need to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends: artisanal crafts, gifts, and souvenirs.

When you stroll through the French Christmas market to buy “les cadeaux de Noël” (Christmas gifts), ingredients, and supplies to prepare for "le repas de Noël" (Christmas dinner), one of the most common expressions you'll hear from vendors and locals alike is "Joyeux Noël" to wish you (Merry Christmas). 

On your way through the market, you'll be immersed in a musical atmosphere animated by the beautiful "chants de Noël" (Christmas carols). It's also the perfect time to admire the string lights that illuminate every corner of the market, and "les sapins de Noël" (Christmas trees), beautifully decorated with baubles and ornaments.

Let’s not forget the traditional French food stalls! You can taste and buy the most delicious treats, local specialties, and a variety of beverages, such as:

  • “Pain d'Épices” (Gingerbread)

  • “Crêpe et Gaufre” (Crepe and waffle)

  • "Les marrons chauds" (The hot chestnut)

  • ‘Fromage’ (Cheese)

  • Le foie gras

  • Sablés de Noël like Bredle, a traditional French cookie with almonds or hazelnuts flavors

  • Mannele and Christstolle, which are kinds of French cakes

  • "Bûche de noël" (Yule log)

  • Les papillotes-Christmas, chocolates wrapped in colorful foil with a message!

  • “Truffes au chocolat” (chocolate truffles), with hazelnut flavor, are a great gift for Christmas

It’s the perfect place to practice your French!

Christmas markets are awesome for meeting locals and having interesting chats. Don’t hesitate to join casual conversations to learn about French culture and Christmas traditions while practicing your French.

You can engage in conversations with merchants and apply what you've learned so far with us! Feel free to revisit our article If you want to remember the words and phrases we use in the market A trip to the market to learn French? Why not!.

Les marchés de Noël is an exciting experience that both French and tourists look forward to attend every year. It might be you this time? Let us know on our FB page!

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