With Christmas just around the corner, we thought we’d give you an insight into some of our favourite French traditions. This week, we will be talking about one famous Christmas event that you will find right across France: the Christmas markets!
When and where are Christmas markets?
Christmas markets usually run between late November and the end of December. Each big town or city has its own Christmas market, which is usually set on the main street or the main square. The most popular ones are held in the big cities, but Christmas markets can be found throughout France – even in small villages.
What is to be bought on Christmas markets?
French people see Christmas markets as a great opportunity to enjoy the Christmas spirit and the street lights and decorations. They are also great places to find personalised presents as original, handcrafted and local products are sold there.
There are often hand made home decoration items as well as accessories like scarves, jewellery and bags. You might also come across some beautiful handmade toys.
Christmas markets are also the ideal place to buy extra special Christmas decorations that you will not find in high street stores. Buying one or two Christmas baubles at a Christmas market is a great way to make your Christmas tree unique.
What food can be enjoyed on Christmas markets?
Christmas markets are also a great place to try new food or enjoy delicious French pastries like Breton crêpes or waffles as well as local specialties. “Vin chaud” (mulled wine) and roasted chestnuts are fundamental Christmas market treats.
In general, at each and every Christmas Market, you will find food that can be found anywhere else as well as the local specialties. They mostly consist of hearty dish and warming drinks as it is usually quite cold outside.
Christmas market activities
Even though every program of activities is different, having your photograph taken with Santa is an activity offered at every market. Cities usually have a pop up Ferris wheel, or even a pop up ice-skating rink! There are also lots of street shows going on, such as parades, dancing and bands playing all kinds of music. Sound and light shows are also very popular and are a good opportunity for the cities to highlight their architectural jewels. The Lyon “Fêtes des Lumières” light show is particularly big and famous.
Marché de Noël = Christmas market
Stand = Stall
Gaufre = Waffle
Marrons chauds or marrons grillés = Roasted chestnut
Vin Chaud = mulled wine
Grande roue = Ferris wheel
Produit artisanal = handcrafted product