Seasonal ideas

The best Christmas markets in France

Twinkly lights, the smell of mulled wine, and shopping some of the best local crafts – it’s time to explore the joy of France’s Christmas markets.

There’s a reason that there’s a song about Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year, and in France you’re sure to find the perfect Christmas Market to explore.

Travelling to France for the Christmas markets

Eurotunnel can get you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, and from there you are spoiled for choice with lots of Christmas markets dotted across the country. Read on for our pick of the festive fun.

Top French Christmas Market destinations

If you have never visited a Christmas market before, these are some of the most popular. These are the markets that see tourists and locals revisit them time and time again. Probably because they each offer something a little different from the next, all with that familiar Christmas atmosphere.

festively decorated Christmas market stalls outside Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Where in France: Bas-Rhin, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 621km / 5h 30m

Strasbourg’s Christmas market is one of the best loved in the country. It has a vintage feel, with many traditional craft stalls that will make your think of Christmas celebrations from yesteryear. The city’s historic quarter, known as ‘Petite France’ is a dream to stroll through on a winter’s night, too. Be sure to grab a mulled wine to sip during your wandering.

Metz Christmas Market

Where in France: Moselle, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 633km / 6h 30m

Perhaps the second most popular Christmas market in France after Strasbourg, the Christmas market in Metz is spread across the city in five different areas. You can shop for baubles and tree toppers, delicious festive treats and mulled wine, plus unique Christmas souvenirs.

Reims Christmas Market

Where in France: Marne, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 274km / 2h 20m

The stunning cathedral in the centre of Reims is illuminated, adding to the festive glow and magic of the city at Christmas time. You’ll find all the usual favourites at this Christmas market, such as classy glass decorations, garlands, chocolates, and steaming cups of mulled wine to keep the cold at bay.

Amiens large gothic cathedral at night lit up with lights

Amiens Christmas Market

Where in France: Place Gambetta, Amiens, Somme, Hauts-de-France
Distance from Calais: 157km / 1h 39m

Amiens is the capital of Picardy and home to France’s largest Gothic cathedral that gets beautifully lit up throughout December. It’s the perfect backdrop to the Christmas market. The market is one of the largest in northern France with over 130 stalls. This is the place for unusual items like Le Creuset kitchenware and regionally made glass. Local ​specialties include Beauvais chocolate and macarons made in Amiens.

Bordeaux Christmas Market

Where in France: Gironde, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Drive from Calais: 868km / 7h 40m

If you travel further south in France, a trip to Bordeaux to visit their Christmas market is definitely in order. Enjoy a warming cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine as you browse the selection of unique gifts from over 150 exhibitors and vendors, which will ensure everyone on your Christmas list gets something special!

Lille Christmas Market

Where in France:  Place Rihour, Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Drive from Calais: 112km / 1h 30m

Lille loves to get festive and you’ll find the whole town dons its Christmas lights and decorations during December. Nestled in the city centre, 90 wooden chalets teem with gift ideas, nativity figurines, Christmas decorations and festive food. As well as regional specialities here there’s the classic festive treats to enjoy like gingerbread and mulled wine.

See our guide to Lille’s Christmas market here.

Decorated heart shaped biscuit with Colmar written in icing across middle

Colmar Christmas Market

Where in France: Place Jeanne d'Arc, Colmar, Haut-Rhin, Grand Est
Distance from Calais: 610km / 6h 20m

For a quintessentially ‘French’ experience, visit Colmar’s Christmas market. Place Rapp in Colmar’s market has a huge, 800 square-meter ice rink and Christmas-themed rollercoaster. Listen to the children’s choir as they float along the canals as you shop for locally crafted gifts and souvenirs.

Toulouse Christmas Market

Where in France: Place du Capitole, Toulouse
Drive from Calais: 962km / 9h 20m

Held in December in the very heart of Toulouse, this is an impressive market featuring original gift ideas from local woodcrafts to regional specialities. There’s something for everyone here including toys, pottery, jewellery, candles, clothing and leather goods. Toulouse is France’s fourth biggest city so as well as the market, be sure to stroll around its historic centre.

Arras Christmas Market

Where in France: Grand Place, Arras, Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France
Distance from Calais: 109km / 1h 10m

You can’t miss this Christmas market’s enormous Ferris wheel, it’s a fantastic centrepiece. Take a ride to see views of the surrounding festivities and Flemish architecture. After a mulled wine and browse of the stalls, visit the unique Christmas tree roundabout, or try skating on the natural ice-rink. Foodies should note that Arras is famous for its Gaufres - waffles of Flemish origin that are best served smothered in melted chocolate, yum!

Toy village scene made from small figures

Other less well-known French Christmas markets

Smaller and less busy, if you need a quieter Christmas shop (but with no less magic) then these are the spots to explore.

Avignon

Where in France: Place de l'Horloge, Avignon
Drive from Calais: 983km / 8h 47m

Avignon’s grand Christmas Market runs throughout December in Place de l'Horloge, a central square. As well as streets lit up with fairy lights there’s live music and stalls selling crafts and food. A must see is the ‘Chemin des Crèches’, a very pretty walk through the different animated and illuminated nativity scenes, allowing you to discover the fabulous traditional ‘santons’ figures which are hand-painted figurines made from wood or clay.

Mulhouse

Where in France: Place de la Réunion
Drive from Calais: 666km / 6h 45m

Famous for its textiles, Mulhouse decorates its streets and market stalls with luxury Christmas fabric created each year to mark the occasion. The stalls are within the glow of the church of Saint-Etienne which is lit for the festive season. Around 100 Christmas huts present local culinary specialities including foie gras, gingerbread and Bredeles (small cakes). While you're here, visit one of the town's many museums, including the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes (fabric printing museum).

Le Touquet

Where in France: Le Touquet-Paris Plage
Drive from Calais: 70km / 1h

This stylish and fashionable seaside resort puts on a beautiful Christmas market each year. The town and surrounding dunes twinkle with fairy lights and entertainment includes carol singing and a Saint Nicolas parade. The stalls sell everything you need for the perfect Christmas gift including jewellery, hand-made wooden toys, and gourmet specialities including champagne and cheese.

city skyline at night lit up with lights

Rouen

Where in France: Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, Le Havre, Rouen, Normandy
Drive from Calais: 274km / 2h 45m

Rouen has dubbed its Christmas event ’Rouen givrée’ which means Frosted Rouen, and sees the whole town undergo a magical transformation. At the Christmas Market in Le Havre, some 30 wooden chalets take over the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville for the famous market, complete with a Ferris wheel and carriage rides. Entertainment includes traditional dancing and a Saint Nicolas parade.

Licques

Where in France: Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France
Drive from Calais: 21km / 30m

This is one of the more unusual Christmas markets in France and only runs for three days.  Because the town is known for its exceptional poultry, there is a Fête de la Dinde, which is a live parade of turkeys through the town centre, followed by local dignitaries and organisations. Licques Christmas market is where you can buy lots of festive treats to eat as well as traditional crafts and decorations.

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Is it your first time to a Christmas market? Here’s our 5 must dos to get you started. There are many reasons why you should visit France during the Christmas period, here are a few of our favourite things to see and do.

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