French Christmas Markets Tradition

French Christmas markets – or marchés de Noël – are a popular French Christmas tradition. Christmas markets take place in many cities throughout France, often starting the last weekend of November and running until the end of December. The festive stalls sell handmade gifts, food and mulled wine (vin chaud) for all to enjoy.

It was in Strasbourg in 1570 that the very first edition of the oldest Christmas market in Europe took place, then called the “Christkindelsmärik” (market of the Infant Jesus). Since that time, Strasbourg has continued the tradition offering an authentic, warm and generous Alsatian Christmas each year. Strasbourg, known as the Capital of Christmas, blends the old with the new, constantly surprising yet remaining authentic to the traditions that made it famous. If the Strasbourg Christmas market is the biggest and oldest French Christmas market in France, then the Metz Christmas market would be the second. Of all the Christmas markets of France, the one in Metz ranks as one of the most visited. You may have heard of Metz for its stunning gothic cathedral or for the Pompidou-Centre which opened a branch in the Lorraine city in 2010. The Metz Christmas market (Moselle) was recently crowned among the top three most beautiful European markets of 2021 as part of the annual European competition.  

The capital also gets in the holiday spirit offering multiple Christmas markets throughout Paris.  The Tuileries Garden Marché de Noël located in the shadow of the famous Louvre Museum, is the largest fun-filled Christmas market in the city and a top holiday destination for Parisians and visitors from all over the city and other parts of France. Part traditional Christmas Market, part holiday carnival, the Tuileries Christmas Market stretches for almost half a mile along the north side of the garden between Place des Pyramids and Place de la Concorde. Not to be outdone, even Nice, located in the Côte d'Azur region in the south of France, joins in the festivities with its annual "Le Village de Noel". Held in the central Jardin Albert 1er, it incorporates an ice rink, a Ferris wheel and a host of Christmas related food and drink. The market is themed around an alpine village and the stalls are located in 60 French mountain chalets and an alpine forest constructed from over 600 pine trees. Perhaps the most picturesque element however is the Christmas lights and decorations along the Promenade des Anglais.

These and many other marchés de Noël make the holiday season in France a truly magical time. Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!


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