Visiting some of the best Christmas markets in France is one of the great joys of the holidays, for both French and for foreign visitors. These wonderful Christmas marchés de Noël fill cities, towns and villages throughout France from the end of November through December with some going on for a few days in January 2023.
Here’s my pick of the best Christmas markets in France. They run from Caen in Normandy to Avignon in the south. And in the east, the oldest Christmas market of all, in Strasbourg. If you know of a Christmas market you think I should include, please do tell me.
I have included times when I have them. Check with the local tourist office for more information. Christmas markets are closed on December 25 (except for Colmar); many finish early on Dec 24 and Dec 31.
Here you’ll find the best Christmas markets in North France . The north France article also covers accommodation which I check regularly. So I hope you will find it useful. One of my favourites is in Amiens where France’s oldest Gothic cathedral provides the perfect backdrop.
Caen is a wonderful city, too often used only as a ferry entry port for holiday makers going south. The Christmas market adds a great reason to visit Caen in the winter. Over 60 wooden chalets fill Place Saint-Saveur, with the illuminated château on the nearby hill providing the right backdrop. Traditional French items from nativity figurines to pain d’épices (gingerbread), and a grotto with Father Christmas. Eat good snacks, and take a glass of mulled wine (or Calvados – after all you’re in the heart of the area!)
Caen Christmas Market Dates:
Nov 26-Dec 31, 2022
Mon 2-7.30pm; Tues-Thurs & Sun 11am-7.30pm; Fri, Sat 11am-9pm Sun 11.30am-7.30pm. Closes on Dec 24, 25 and 31 at 4pm.
Caen Market Information
As bubbly and Christmas go so well together, it’s appropriate that Reims, capital of Champagne, holds one of the biggest fairs in the region and it’s one of the best Christmas markets in France. It takes place at Les promenades Jean Louis Schneiter, in front of the station and on the esplanades port de Mars. But you’ll also find a lot of smaller markets throughout the city offering gourmet experiences, a children’s kingdom and more. 150 chalets offer good quality gifts, glass, ceramics, food and wine.
Reims Christmas Market: Dec 1-31, 2022
Mon 2-8pm, Tues-Thurs 10.30am-8pm; Fri, Sat 10.30am-9pm; Sun 10.30am-8pm. Monday Dec 20 & 27 10.30am-8pm.
If you’re here visit one of the great Champagne houses in Reims.
The ancient city of Rouen and capital of Normandy always pulls out the stops. 82 wooden chalets sell all the great French goodies in the Place de la Cathédrale with the magnificent backdrop of the cathedral as an illuminated backdrop.
Skating rinks and Santa’s Grotto feature at Rouen Givré (Frosty Rouen). There’s plenty of street entertainment taking over the city’s historic streets (including of course the place where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake).
Rouen Christmas Market: Nov 25-Dec 31, 2022.
Rouen Tourist Office
You’ll find Christmas markets all over Paris. There are between 15 and 20 of them!
La Magie de Noël (Jardin de Tuileries)
The best known and Paris’ larges market has moved from the Champs-Elysées to the Jardin des Tuileries. Just by the Louvre, the 100 or so stalls offer all the right treats. There’s a huge Big Wheel, plus carnival rides, an ice skating rink, and a Champagne bar if you’re fed up with mulled wine. It glitters and sparkles with all the magic of the season.
Jardin de Tuileries Market Dates: Nov 19, 2022 to Jan 8, 2023
Jardin de Tuileries
Place de la Concorde
Metro: Tuileries or Concorde
Champ de Mars
Of all the Paris markets my favourite has to be the one near the Eiffel Tower at the Champ de Mars, partly because I particularly love this part of the capital. It concentrates on good artisan and craft products, and food from around France. A large ice-skating rink fills a lot of the green open space by the Ecole Militaire and there’s a snow village as well.
Champ de Mars Market Dates: Nov 16, 2022 to Jan 2, 2023
Champ de Mars
Metro: Trocadero or Pont de l’alma
Alsace first introduced Christmas markets into France from Germany so it’s a particularly rich region for the festive season.
Colmar has 6 different markets in the old city. It’s mainly pedestrianised so you can stroll around them easily. 60 wooden huts in the Place des Domenicans sell decorations and gifts. In the Place Jeanne d’Arc you can stock up on local food and drink from cured meats to wines and eau-de-vie spirits. 50 more surround the Schwendi fountain by the canal. The indoor market in the medieval Koïfhus sells local artisans’ works. After you’ve bought to your heart’s content here, drop into the Decapole Hall for more in a museum setting.
A children’s market takes over Petite Venise where you can let the children loose on the merry-go-round before they post a letter to Father Christmas. Don’t miss the evenings when children sing carols from boats moored on the canal. There are skating rinks and many of the nearby shopsare open on Sundays during the Market.
Colmar really pushes the boat out with lots of carol concerts and choirs around the city as well as special events. The city describes itself as an ‘open-air theatre’ and for once, it’s true.
Colmar Christmas Market: Nov 24-Dec 29 2022
Mon-Thurs 10am-7pm; Fri-Sun 10am-8pm. Dec 24: 10am-5pm; Dec 25: 11am-8pm; Dec 26: 11am-7pm.
Metz is another of those fabulously popular and top Christmas market in France, rivalling Strasbourg. 5 different markets stretch out with over 120 chalets , from Place de la République with its huge lit up tree to the gourmet train in Place de la Comédie. Christmas tasting specialities are in Place Saint-Jacques; a big wheel in Place d’Armes that looks over the cathedral, and local arts and crafts in Place Saint Louis.
Metz Christmas Market Nov 18-Dec 30, 2022
Place Saint Louis/Saint-Jacques/d’Armes/la Republique Sun to Thurs 11am-9pm; Fri, Sat 11am-10pm.
Place de la Comedie Sun to thurs 5pm-11pm, Fri, Sat 11am-11pm.
Make your way to the Place de la Réunion in the old city centre overlooked by the lovely city hall. Here you find around 90 wooden chalets, all decorated in a special fabric designed each year. It’s an appropriate thing to do; the Museum of Printed Textiles has the largest collection of textile images in the world. The textile industry, which enriched the city from the 18th century, began in 1746.
Again the city has special markets and events like the opening of the Advent calendar on December 1, concerts of Christmas music and bric-a-brac days.
Mulhouse Christmas Market: Nov 24 to Dec 27, 2022
Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm; Fri, Sat 10am-9pm. Dec 24, 27 10am-6pm; Dec 26 noon-8pm.
It all began, so the story goes, in Strasbourg in 1570. Today, the biggest city in Alsace welcomes around 2 million visitors to its Christkindelsmärik.
300 stands spread out from Place Broglie and Cathedral Square to other parts of the city. The highest Christmas tree in Europe occupies Place Kleber with a further two trees erected in Place des Hall, lighting up daily at 5pm. Over 300 stalls fill the streets with all sorts of goodies.
This is one of the great European Christmas markets and the city responds with a spectacular light display. Walk through the illuminated entrances on either end of the Grand rue. The rue des Tonneliers is appropriately decorated with 22 twinkling barrels. You can skate outside the cathedral and follow the Nativity Trail from the Bishop’s place in Rue Brulée, in windows of shops along Rue des Juifs, and the Place du Chateau.
See something different at the Musée Alsacien where the nativity shrine is large and beautifully made. It’s a ‘paradise box’ or reliquary from the 18th century full of Provencal nativity figures, paper flowers, straw and clouds.
Strasbourg Christmas Market: Nov 25 to Dec 24, 2022
Les lumières de Noël transform this delightful town into a glittering Christmas event. 180 stalls cluster around Saint Paul and the surrounding streets, selling high quality artisan good and gifts. There are exhibitions, concerts and street spectacles. For something different the good fairy Aunt Airie accompanies Father Christmas.
Montbéliard Christmas Market: Nov 26-Dec 24, 2022
Mon 2-8pm; Tues-Sat 10.30am-8pm; Fri 10.30am-9pm; Sat 1-am-9pm; Sun 10am-9pm except Dec 24 when it closes at 6pm.
South of France
The Cour Jean Jaurès has 20 wooden chalets selling food and drink from the region and beyond. Stock up on chocolates, truffles, sausages, olives and more either here and in the Place de l’Horloge.
Or take home designer items like olive wood spoons and boards, jewellery and textiles, particularly Provençal fabrics. You won’t have to go far to find santons, little painted terracotta nativity figures. The best artisan ones are expensive, but will last a lifetime.
The town hall has an astonishing nativity scene. You’ll find jazz, concerts, exhibitions and more at the various museums and attractions throughout the city.
Midnight Masses and Nativity celebrations take place on Dec 24th and 25th.
Avignon Christmas Market: Dec 3 2022 to Jan 2 2023
Held in December in the centre of this lovely pink city, the market has a bit of everything from gourmet region food specialties (of course) to local artisans’ stalls. Over 100 stalls are in the spacious Place du Capitol square.
Toulouse Christmas Market: Nov 25-Dec 25, 2022
Sun-Thurs 10.30am-8.30pm; Fri, Sat 10.30am-10pm; Dec 24 10.30am-7pm; 25 2-10pm; 26 10.30am-7pm
French Atlantic Coast
If you’re on the French Atlantic coast, the Bordeaux Christmas market is a definite must. Over 150 stalls sell great gifts, food and of course mulled wine. It mostly takes place in the Allées de Tournay but there’s also the Darwin Christmas Market which features socially and environmentally conscious artisans environmentally-conscious artisans there. This year try the new organic chocolate stand where they make and sell chocolate. The boat has its floating Christmas market; there are great light shows, a Christmas circus, concerts by candlelight and more.
Bordeaux Christmas Market: Nov 25-Dec 25, 2022. Daily 10.30am-9pm
If you’re in the Loire Valley or Paris, visit one of the châteaux that dress themselves up so beautifully over the Christmas holidays. A Christmas Châteaux.
And if it helps…here’s a bit more information
The best Christmas Markets in north France
Events in France in November 2022
Food Festivals in France
More Practical Information
More about getting to France from the UK
Most of the towns have cheap hotels. Check the budget hotel chain options.