While Strasbourg is the most famous, Colmar is the capital of Christmas markets in France. Christmas time in France is special with festivals and markets held throughout the country though the best French Christmas markets are in northern France and especially in Alsace.
If you’re looking for something special this holiday season, try a visit to France. To help you on your way here is our list of the 27 best Christmas markets in France.
La Magie de Noël (Paris)
Gare de l’Est (Paris)
Trocadéro Square (Paris)
Notre Dame (Paris)
Noisy le Grand (Paris)
Allées de Tourny (Bordeaux)
Floating Christmas market (Bordeaux)
Christmas Market (Colmar)
Place Jeanne D’Arc (Colmar)
The tradition of French Christmas markets
French Christmas markets are truly remarkable and are a fantastic way to do your Christmas shopping whilst taking an enjoyable break at the same time. Now doesn’t that sound more like the kind of Christmas shopping you will love?
The Christmas markets in France began as a way to supply French housewives with all the commodities they would need for Christmas, and as time has progressed, they have become much more grand and so well renowned.
In recent times, many towns and cities throughout the UK have taken to putting on markets, but without taking anything from the UK counterparts, the French markets have that certain je ne sais quoi, naturellement. In any case, it’s a bit of fun, dashing over to France for a few days of merriment, mayhem, and mulled wine.
The north of France is where the larger and most popular markets are held, especially in Arras, Calais, Lille, Paris, and Strasbourg. And there are so many in the Alsace region including the incredible Christmas experience that is Colmar.
All these markets are easily accessible from the UK, due to the proximity and of course it is much easier to travel by Eurostar and the TVG train services nowadays.
But they are popular with the French too, and offer a festive opportunity to experience France in a convivial atmosphere.
What makes France’s traditional Christmas markets great?
The atmosphere. Germany has many wonderful and traditional Christmas markets. And they are justifiably famous throughout the world. But no-one in Europe quite does Christmas like the French.
The gastronomic delights can’t be matched and when you add in atmospheric town squares, wonderful produce and crafts, not to mention the sheer warmth and welcoming nature of the people – you just can’t beat the best French Christmas markets. Here’s the ones we highly recommend you try to visit in the upcoming holidays.
27 best French Christmas Markets to visit in 2022
The Strasbourg market is the oldest Christmas market in France and has been going since the Middle Ages. This glorious city is just 2¼ hours by TGV from Paris (Gare de l’Est).
The Strasbourg markets really are a joy and I defy anyone not to get into the spirit of Christmas within 30 seconds of seeing all the amazing lights and decorations.
Head for Place Kléber (the central square in the city) and marvel at the huge Christmas tree which is the centrepiece of this winter wonderland. You’ll find a small market huddled around the tree. The stalls are usually given over to local charities which is a nice touch in keeping with the time of year.
The main market is held in the Place de la Cathedrale and it’s an amazing sight at this time of year. But you’ll also find stalls and little wooden chalets in different locations around the city including Place Broglie, Place du Chateau, and Place de la Gare. Just follow the lights, sounds, and laughter and you’ll find them all.
To be honest the entire city is taken over by Xmas. And why not? You’ll never see so many Christmas decorations and every homeowner, business owner, and the city itself vie to have the best decs and brightest Christmas lights. And you’ll never find so many beautifully decorated Christmas trees as you will in Strasbourg.
And when you have tired yourself out walking around the dazzling stalls, take a relaxing break with some traditional French food and wine – or try some of the renowned Northern France beers or even some hot wine?
Maybe a lunch of traditional moules frites or beef carbonade. The local food is amazing – you must try the gingerbread and the incredible pommes d’amour (toffee apples). You could even have a helping of festive foie gras should you feel the urge to eat like the French at Christmas.
Then for those of you with a sweet tooth there are the most amazing little French crepes – so delicious, although I have a terrible weakness for Iles Flottantes – note the plural.
Possibly the most popular Christmas market there is, all Santa lovers should have a visit here high on their bucket list. It’s an overworked cliche but Strasburg really is magical at Christmas.
You can read about our experiences of the market in our guide to Strasbourg Christmas market.
Paris Christmas markets
What could be better than spending Christmas in the French capital? It’s a special time and as you’d expect there are quite a few different Christmas markets not only in the city centre but also in the other arrondissements. There are at least 20 established markets and many other smaller events will take place in local areas. But here are the best Christmas markets in Paris:
La Magie de Noël (The magic of Christmas)
Probably the best of all Paris Christmas markets, the one hosted by the Tuileries Garden (one of the biggest Paris parks) is popular with Parisians and tourists alike. The market is open from late / end of November to early January.
The Tuileries Christmas market really is something special and is by far the largest of all the Paris markets. It has over 100 stalls and wooden chalets which line the garden between Place de la Concorde to Rue des Pyramides.
As well as all the festive gifts, crafts, and food you’d expect you’ll also find many fairground rides including a big wheel (and I do mean big) which isn’t for the faint hearted as well as many other rides and attractions for the whole family.
You can reach the market by metro with Concorde and Tuileries being the nearest stations. Do be prepared for crowds though. La Magie de Noël attracts over 10 million visitors every year.
By the way this market used to be known as the Champs-Élysées Christmas market. The Champs-Élysées is only a few minutes’ walk from the Tuileries Gardens and it’s well worth taking time out to see the amazing festive lights which run the length of the avenue.
Gare de l’Est, Alsatian Christmas Market
We talk about all the best Alsatian Christmas markets below but I suppose it’s natural enough that Paris would have its own version. Even though Alsace is hundreds of miles away.
But not to worry. You can get a taste (literally) of Alsace in this small themed market. Principally known for its food offerings and Riesling (white wine) it’s worth a visit.
The Gare de l’Est is in the 10th arrondissement and while visiting the market you should take the opportunity of looking round the amazing railway station – one of the grandest in France.
Any event held at the base of the Eiffel Tower is going to be amazing. And the Trocadéro Christmas market makes full use of its unique location.
The traders’ wooden huts are clustered around the tower and beyond offering all the range of gifts and decorations you’d expect. One of the highlights of the market is the Eiffel Tower itself which puts on a special light show over the festive period.
Marché de Noël, Notre Dame
This Christmas market is held from early to late December and is held in the shadow of the Notre Dame Cathedral. This is a grand place to hold the event and it is very much a traditional market with a focus on artisans and their crafts and a must visit if you’re visiting Paris.
I don’t think there is another market in France which offers such a selection of crafts and incredible festive gift ideas. Whether you’re looking for ceramics, textiles, metalwork, or even calligraphy you’ll find so many treasures here.
But you’ll also discover lots of gastronomic delights including a huge variety of cheeses, sausages, and even foie gras. Wash it all down with a glass of mulled wine while you take in the sights of Notre Dame rising once again from the ashes.
Marché de Noël, Montparnasse
If you’re looking for something off the beaten track, try the Montparnasse Christmas market. This is typical of the smaller markets held around Paris and its suburbs. There is still an impressive number of stalls camped around the Montparnasse Tower and you’ll probably find more pocket friendly prices here too. You can travel to Montparnasse by metro.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market
Dare I say it but this is one of the trendier Christmas markets. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is an area known for its art and culture. The market reflects this with some very high-quality artisan products on offer. Naturally prices reflect this too.
But if you want to peruse high-end Christmas gifts while sipping from a paper beaker of champagne – this is the market for you.
Noisy le Grand
In the Paris area, the Noisy le Grand market is one of the biggest of the markets, drawing people in with its festive atmosphere and traditional Christmas fare. Held over five days in the middle of December and offers horse and carriage rides, pony rides, workshops, and of course oodles of wooden huts crammed with all the Christmas goodies you could possibly want.
Bordeaux Christmas Markets
Christmas in Bordeaux is magical and there are three wonderful Christmas markets you simply must visit if you’re enjoying a Yuletide vacation in the city. There is the unique floating Christmas market, the Darwin Christmas market but the largest and most popular is held in the Allées de Tourny.
Allées de Tourny Christmas market
Bordeaux’s already atmospheric and popular shopping area Allées de Tourny undergoes a magical transformation at Christmas with over 150 wooden stalls and unusual and traditional gifts.
This is the largest of the Bordeaux markets and not only features traditional wooden stalls offering all kinds of gifts and crafts but you’ll also find musicians, street performers, and choirs singing carols.
The market is usually open from around 10:30am to 9pm and last year attracted over 300,000 visitors. The Allées de Tourny Christmas market runs from late November to December 26.
The Darwin Christmas market is a smaller affair that lasts for three days in mid-December. It’s held in an indoor space with around 100 craft and food stalls and some live music.
This is more of an artisan market with lots of handmade gifts including jewellery makers. It’s open until 9pm in the evening.
Floating Christmas market
The Bordeaux floating Christmas market is held over a weekend in early December. The market is held on and around the IBOAT. It’s one of the more unique French Christmas markets and features a mini village of stalls and food trucks which spring up around the boat.
The market is open from 5pm to 10pm and you can reach it by tram (B) or bus (4,7, or 32).
Toulouse Christmas Markets
Toulouse is a wonderful city to visit at any time of the year and it certainly comes into its own during the Christmas season.
It has a massive Christmas market which is held in the Place du Capitole in the heart of the city. It has something for everyone and features both a Christmas village and craft market. Not to mention a skating rink.
The magisterial Place du Capitole is festooned with Christmas lights and provides a wonderful backdrop as the town square is filled with wooden chalets. Stalls spill out into neighbouring streets and you’ll find all the decorations, gifts, and toys you need.
Like all French Christmas markets, the one in Toulouse has an amazing array of delicacies including chocolate treats and cheeses but you can’t visit Toulouse Christmas market without sampling the local Aliot Aveyronnais which is a potato and cheese dish.
The Toulouse Christmas market runs from November 26 to December 26 and is open until 10pm on most nights.
There is a smaller Christmas market held on the Allees Jules-Guesde featuring crafts and community stallholders.
Colmar Christmas Markets
We mentioned German Christmas markets earlier, well how about mixing the best of both worlds with a visit to the amazing Colmar Christmas markets? Colmar is a small town in the Alsace region of North Eastern France (Grand Est), very close to the German border, which comes alive at Noel.
Colmar has six Christmas markets which are held in the beautiful town centre with delightful wooden chalets and stalls set among half-timbered mediaeval buildings and cobblestone streets. If Carlsberg did Christmas…
Most of the markets run from mid to late November to either Christmas week or December 29. The themes may vary slightly from year to year but are free, delightfully atmospheric, and are family focused with a huge welcome from the stall holders.
Christmas in Colmar market
The Christmas in Colmar market is held across the six squares in the town and the illuminations cast a wonderful light over the town which is richly decorated. If you want to picture a perfect Christmas card scene it’s Colmar in December.
Place Jeanne D’Arc
For traditional Alsatian sweet treats visit the market in Place Jeanne D’Arc. The gingerbread is legendary and you won’t find tastier Christmas cakes anywhere else. And, as you’d expect by now, the Place Jeanne D’Arc Christmas market is staged against the beautiful backdrop of decorated half-timbered houses.
It’s easy to get carried away with the local Riesling and Gewurztraminer wine, cakes, and other goodies and forget that Christmas is also quite popular with children. Nuts I know. But don’t worry. Colmar has got your back.
Colmar Children’s Christmas Market
The Children’s Christmas Market features over 40 wooden cottages crammed to the brim with kiddy delights. There are plenty of toys including Alsatian crafts but also a truly magnificent nativity scene and giant post box for the kids to post that last minute wish list to Santa.
Christmas Tree Market
If you haven’t finished decorating or are in self-catering accommodation and want to add some festive feel you need to head to Mairie de Colmar for the Christmas Tree Market. Apart from trees of all sizes you can also pick all kinds of decs including advent wreaths, garlands, and all the Santa Claus and angel figures you could possibly ask for.
Handcraft Christmas Market
Held at the Koifhus in the centre of Colmar this has to be one of my favourite Christmas experiences.
Firstly, the Koifhus itself is a magnificent mediaeval building and is well with a visit anyway. But at Christmas it comes alive. The handcraft market brings together over 20 local artisans who specialise in handmade goods.
Woodworkers, potters, jewellers and many more expert craftspeople display and sell their wares. If you’re looking for that extra special gift, you’ll find it in the Koifhus.
You’ll also find a toy museum which is fantastic and what better time than Christmas to celebrate toys?
Place de L’Ancienne Douane
This Christmas Market is arranged around the square on which the Koifhus stands. There are dozens of small wooden huts clustered around the fountain and snake down towards the river.
Although it’s in the far north east of the country, Colmar is accessible to all. It’s less than 2.5 hours away from Paris by train and around 3.5 hours from Lyon. You could fly into Strasbourg Airport and be only 45 minutes away and if you’re driving the town is on the A35 route.
If you want to do something different this Christmas, I really can’t recommend Colmar highly enough. You can find out more here on the official website.
Eguisheim Christmas Market
If the six markets in Colmar aren’t enough for you there is a wonderful Christmas market in the nearby village of Eguisheim.
This is a remarkably picturesque setting and the Christmas Market is open from the last week in November right through to December 23. The market features local craftspeople and dazzling wooden chalets packed full of festive favourites and handmade goods.
Eguisheim is well worth a visit if you’re staying in Colmar and you’re guaranteed to enjoy the authentic Alsatian festivities.
Eguisheim is less than 10 minutes away from Colmar and you can take a taxi there for under 20 Euros.
Turckheim Christmas Market
The third point of the triangle that includes Colmar and Eguisheim, Turckheim has its own Christmas market which is well worth visiting.
A small town of less than 4,000 people, Turckheim lies to the west of Colmar. It’s nestled against the Vosges Mountains. Its Christmas market is small and staged around the city hall.
The wooden houses which the traders occupy are all individually designed and, as you’d expect. Look typically Alsatian. The town is festooned with fairy lights and is really quaint.
If you’re in Turckheim on a Saturday in December look out for the nightwatchman. He makes his rounds at 10pm to make sure the town is safe. Grab a selfie with the nightwatchman – it’ll make a great family Christmas card.
Thann Christmas Market
Snuggled against the Vosges mountains, Thann is a small town to the south-west of Colmar. It’s easily accessible from the A35 or A36 and is mainly known for its Gothic architecture and ruined Engelbourg Castle and the 15th century Witches Tower that now houses a wine museum.
But, like all towns and villages in the region, Thann is transformed at Christmas time with its month-long market running until December 23.
The centre of the town is decorated with lights and there are over 20 wooden stalls selling crafts and gifts set up around Place Joffre and Place St Thiebaut.
Thann is one of the smaller Christmas markets in the region but it’s unique in the huge number of fir trees which decorate the town. It feels very much part of Germany so you’ll enjoy the authentic Alsace atmosphere.
It’s worth a visit although probably half a day will be more than enough to enjoy the market and explore the town.
Arras Christmas Market
The Grand Place in Arras is the setting for the city’s famous Christmas market. It is a truly jaw-dropping backdrop to a bustling market and is well worth a weekend or two-day mid-week visit.
The market runs from late November to December 30 and there are around 150 richly decorated stalls selling every toy, gift, craft, and bauble you can possibly imagine.
The stalls are festooned in lights and there the streets and alleyways are enveloped by hundreds of Christmas trees. A special tip – when you get peckish try the freshly baked spice bread. It’s unbelievable.
But Christmas in Arras isn’t just about the market. There is a fair with the usual big wheel and carousel but the main attractions, at least for the children, will be the ice rink and the sledge run. Great fun.
Arras is on the high-speed railway and is just 45 minutes from Paris via TGV. If you’re travelling by car the A1 connects the city to Paris with Paris being the nearest airport.
Calais Christmas market
The festive period in Calais usually features a grand parade on the Sunday before Christmas. A lengthy procession of decorated floats and performance artists makes this a wonderful occasion for all the family.
But Calais also has its own Christmas market and it’s a very traditional affair. You’ll find the usual host of stalls selling decorations, toys, crafts, and of course food. You’ll also discover an ice rink and a fairy tale world of Christmas joy.
Calais is the one of the easiest of all French Christmas markets to access if you live in the UK or are enjoying the festive period in London. You can get to Calais by train in just over three hours. You can also travel by coach in under five hours with Blablabus or drive yourself and take one of the many ferries from Dover.
Lille Christmas market
Lille has a huge market with the most beautiful handcrafted gifts as well as the famous French food stuffs which are just heavenly and make the most acceptable gifts for friends and family. Christmas shopping really is easy when you visit Lille.
Lille is one of the most popular and definitely one of the best Christmas markets in France. I think it’s so successful because it combines the old with new. Enjoy listening to traditional Christmas carols, drink vin chaud (mulled wine) while you do your shopping but enjoy the attractions of the fairground too.
You’ll find the market on Place Rihour in the city centre. There are nearly 100 stalls or wooden chalets selling the most wonderful artisan gifts. The focus is very much on locally produced crafts and the gifts and decorations including beautiful nativity figurines have to be seen to be believed.
There is so much choice here. But after your Christmas shopping you must try the local food. Most people love French cheeses, the patés, cakes and confectionery, they are all such delicious foods and make great Christmas gifts.
Christmas decorations are also a good buy as most are unusual and much better quality than in department stores.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can ride the giant ferris wheel or for a more sedate ride the traditional carousel is always popular.
The incredible thing about Lille is that if you’re in the UK at Christmas time you can easily take a day trip to the Lille market. Hop on Eurostar and you can be wandering around Lille Christmas market around 90 minutes after leaving London.
The Lille Christmas market usually runs for six weeks from mid-November to the end of December.
Nice Christmas Market
The Nice Christmas market runs from early December into January. It isn’t the biggest but it’s well worth a visit if you’re in southern France during the Christmas season.
Head for the Place Massena which is the main town square and you’ll find the Christmas market with stalls erected around the square. You’ll discover a host of local artisans selling their handmade wares and you’re certain to find plenty of gift ideas for all the family.
After your shopping why not strap on your skates and have a go on the ice rink? A ride on the ferris wheel will give you a great view of the city’s Christmas lights. But avoid it if you have a queasy stomach.
Menton Christmas Market
This market isn’t as well known outside of France as it should be. But in the south of France, you will find a Christmas market in the gorgeous little town of Menton. This wonderful festive market has everything you need to enjoy a truly romantic Christmas.
France, Christmas, and romance is the perfect combination. And you won’t find it anywhere better than at Menton in December.
You’ll find this charming little town in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region on the French Riviera. It’s near the Italian border and only a two-hour drive from Genoa. It’s close to Nice too – just 40 minutes down the A8 so you can visit both markets on the same weekend.
Menton holds an annual Christmas Festival which is staged in the beautiful Casino Gardens in the centre of town.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience the magic of Christmas on the French Riviera – Menton is the place for you. It’ll be a few degrees warmer than other places but the whole town gets into the Christmas spirit.
A very colourful Christmas market Menton is renowned for its nativity scene. Or should I say scenes. They’re everywhere and make exploring the town such a joy.
As well as the main market in the gardens you’ll find other stalls at other locations including the indoor market and even on the promenade. If you’re looking for traditional food head for the beach area and you’ll find traders offering tasty mulled wine and tasty sweet treats.
Menton is a beautiful town and looks even more stunning during the festive period. The Christmas festival runs throughout December and unusually continues through the first week of the new year.
Amiens Christmas market
A surprisingly large market and definitely one of the most spectacular. The market has around 130 wooden huts all set out against the quiet incredible backdrop of Amiens Cathedral. The cathedral is lit up in a quite amazing display complete with Christmas music. It really is a fairy tale setting in which to enjoy the festive season.
The wonderfully decorated wooden stalls sell all the traditional craft products, gifts and Christmas decorations as well as local sweet and savoury treats. Festive food is a big part of this market; enjoy a waffle loaded with chocolate as you watch the light show at the cathedral.
As well as the traders and their stalls you will be delighted by the plethora of street performers as well as traditional fairground rides including carousels. You’ll even find an ice rink.
These are just a few of the French Christmas markets and if you visit France from the middle of November right through until Christmas Eve, and in some cases right into the cusp of the New Year, you will have the opportunity to see one wherever you are.