11 unmissable Christmas markets in France: As the holidays approach, a particular excitement is felt across France: the 2023 Christmas markets are preparing to amaze young and old. Imagine yourself, draped in your favorite scarf, savoring a delicious mulled wine under the glow of illuminated fir trees and the charm of festive chalets.
Symbolizing the quintessence of winter magic, these markets are the vibrant heart of the festive season. And although France is home to more than 300 markets, we have carefully chosen 11 among them, designed to offer you an unforgettable experience.
From the renowned Strasbourg Christmas market to other less publicized but equally enchanting treasures, embark with us on a discovery of the most beautiful Christmas markets in France. Prepare to be dazzled.
The 11 most beautiful Christmas markets in France to discover in 2023
1. Paris: The unmissable Christmas markets
Every year, Paris is transformed into a dazzling festive setting, making its Christmas markets major stops in the search for the most beautiful Christmas markets in France. The streets come alive, offering a range of activities and events. One of the highlights remains the discovery of the Paris Notre-Dame Christmas market. Nestled on the outskirts of the famous cathedral and the picturesque Viviani Square, this market offers a magical spectacle, enhanced by the oldest tree in Paris.
The La Défense Christmas Village, covering more than 10,000 m2, stands out as the largest Christmas market in Île-de-France. With more than 300 exhibitors, this true festive paradise amazes with its varied activities, its thousands of light decorations, and its gourmet stands. This year, a solidarity chalet will appear, showcasing four associations committed to combating insecurity and food waste.
Then head to the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, where “The Magic of Christmas” operates by promoting French know-how. In the spirit of a traditional Christmas market, between culinary delights and artisanal creations, a true celebration of French talent is offered to you.
- Dates: mid-November to early January 2024
- Information: Paris Tourist Office
2. Strasbourg: A unique magical experience at the Christmas market
Strasbourg, often nicknamed the capital of Christmas, undoubtedly hosts one of the most majestic Christmas markets in France. For lovers of authenticity and enchantment, it is an unmissable destination. With its 300 typical chalets, a monumental fir tree that sits in its heart, and a myriad of shows illuminated by countless sparkling garlands, the experience is purely magical.
Planning your visit requires a little organization because the Strasbourg market is divided into 3 distinct zones. Magical Christmas is the traditional market where Places Kléber, Broglie, Petite France, Place Gutenberg, and Place de la Cathedrale come alive and transform into a magical world.
Next door, Noël Secret invites you to a more intimate experience in the heart of Strasbourg. There are craft workshops at the Gayot Market Square, as well as daily stories and shows at the Mathias Mérian Square for the pleasure of young and old. Finally, Christmas highlights the social and solidarity economy by offering a vision of the unique “off” market.
On the list of must-sees, don’t miss the giant fir tree on Place Kléber, the cathedral’s nativity scene, the legendary “Christkindlmärik” arch on Place Broglie, or the luminescent blue tree on Place Gutenberg. Every corner of Strasbourg shines, with installations like the Porte de Lumières or the imposing chandelier at the junction of Rue du Fossé des Tanners and Grand-Rue.
- Dates: November 24 to December 24, 2023
- Information: Christmas in Strasbourg
3. Reims: Light immersion at the Champagne Christmas market
Enchanting and sparkling, the Reims Christmas market is an essential stopover during the end-of-year festivities in France. With its prestigious location on the cathedral square, this market is a true haven of light where dozens of chalets are erected, offering an exquisite selection of gastronomic products, artisanal artifacts, and stands dedicated to mulled wine tasting, emblematic of the season.
The Palais de Tau, for its part, houses the artisans’ village, as well as an ice rink specially dedicated to children, a small train, and a traditional crèche. The Children’s Kingdom, a true paradise for the youngest, amazes with its interactive machines and welcomes the unmissable visit from Santa Claus. For a unique experience, don’t hesitate to take to the skies with the Ferris wheel located on Place d’Erlon. And for a modern touch, the balls of light scattered throughout the city center will add a touch of magic to your walk.
Every weekend, the market comes alive with the sound of concerts and other cultural events. Every day, a breathtaking sound and light show enhance this festive scene. A moment not to be missed: the lighting of the cathedral, revealing every architectural detail of this Gothic jewel. An experience that confirms that the Reims Christmas market is among the most beautiful in France.
- Dates: November 24 to December 24, 2023
- Information : Reims Tourism
4. Rennes: The Magic of Breton Christmas
When it comes time for the Christmas markets, Alsace is often first on everyone’s mind. But Brittany, with Rennes in the lead, demonstrates every year that it also knows how to immerse its inhabitants and visitors in the magic of Christmas. In the lively heart of Rennes, multiple markets are established, spreading the warmth of winter festivities. Place du Colombier is the main gathering point where, for a month, activities, shows, and festive stands captivate passers-by. Children, amazed, can indulge in the joys of the traditional carousel installed especially for the occasion. And, within the Colombia shopping center, you will be charmed by a selection of chalets offering mulled wine, unique gift ideas, and local Breton products.
However, the most famous Christmas market in Rennes takes place on the Mail François Mitterand. Formerly located on Parliament Square, this market offers a magical landscape with nearly forty chalets, a myriad of light decorations, an illuminated Ferris wheel, and a traditional wooden horse carousel that will delight young and old.
- Dates: from December 1, 2023
- Information: Rennes Christmas Market
5. Bordeaux: Tradition and discoveries at the Christmas market
Every winter, the alleys of Tourny in Bordeaux light up, transforming the city into a magical setting during its traditional Christmas market. There are three main avenues that structure this market:
The central aisle, the real heart of the market, where around a hundred chalets reveal a range of gift ideas, ranging from works of art to costume jewelry, including handcrafted toys.
The alley of gourmet terraces is the favorite space for all Epicureans. There, the scent of roasted chestnuts mixes with that of crispy waffles, melting tartiflette, and spicy mulled wine, without forgetting some Alsatian specialties for an exotic touch.
The artisans’ alley presents local talents: forty artisans from the Bordeaux region and elsewhere exhibit their creations, making this alley a real journey to discover French craftsmanship.
But the Bordeaux Christmas market is not just a gastronomic and artisanal experience. It is also a place of entertainment and festivity, especially for young people. Between musical shows, magic tricks, and creative workshops, the magic of Christmas operates at every moment.
- Dates: from November 25 to December 25, 2023
- Information: Bordeaux Christmas market
6. Nantes: Tradition and innovation at the Christmas market
In Nantes, the holiday season is experienced with intensity and wonder. For decades, the city has lit up and come alive around its essential Christmas market, ranked among the most popular in France. On Place du Commerce and Place Royale, picturesque chalets stand, housing around a hundred passionate artisans. These offer you a journey through authentic Christmas objects and decorations, as well as original gift ideas. And of course, culinary pleasures are not left out: roasted chestnuts, enveloping mulled wine, golden pancakes, soft waffles, and melting tartiflette await gourmets.
However, the city of Nantes has always stood out by combining tradition and innovation. Thus, alongside the traditional market, the city offers “The Other Market.“. Located on the Esplanade Carré Feydeau, this space highlights artisans and producers engaged in the social and solidarity economy. A place where each purchase takes on a special meaning and where each gift demonstrates an ethical and responsible approach. A great way to combine festivities and civic engagement.
- Dates: from November 23 to December 30, 2023
- Information: Nantes Christmas Market
7. Lille: Wonder at the Christmas market
With a tradition of more than three decades, the Lille Christmas market continues to improve and expand. Every year, more exhibitors flock to present their original gift ideas and sparkling decorations that will make visitors’ eyes shine. The excitement of the festivities comes to life on Place Rihour, brought to life by the regular appearances of Santa Claus, lively concerts, varied entertainment, and magical illuminations that bathe the square.
It is impossible to talk about the Lille Christmas market without mentioning the majestic Ferris Wheel. It sits proudly and offers those who dare to climb it a breathtaking view of the rooftops of Lille. For adrenaline lovers, the caterpillar, positioned on the Place du Théâtre, promises good times of laughter and sensations.
Families will find what they’re looking for with the little Christmas train that crisscrosses Place Richebé. Nearby, a gourmet stand will make young and old alike drool with an assortment of sweet treats. Undoubtedly, Lille is home to one of the most enchanting Christmas markets in France, combining magic, discovery, and fun.
And as if that were not enough, the heart of Lille will sparkle with a thousand lights thanks to the Christmas lights. Dear visitors, a surprise awaits you at the market as soon as night begins to fall. Our advice? Come and discover it for yourself!
- Dates: November 22 to December 31, 2023
- Information: The Christmas Village in Lille
8. Marseille: Tradition and magic at the Christmas market
The Mediterranean mildness of Marseille will certainly not see the snowflakes fall, but the festive and warm atmosphere of the Christmas markets sets its streets alight every year. The Old Port comes alive with the traditional Christmas market, lined with chalets displaying a multitude of decorations, handicrafts, and tasty Provençal delicacies.
Cours Julien, for its part, is transformed into an effervescent artistic space. It is here that the Grand Marché de Noël des Créateurs comes to life, bringing together nearly 200 local talents. This is the perfect opportunity for those looking for unique gifts. Whether it’s painting, jewelry, lighting, photography, trendy accessories, or designer furniture pieces, this market is a modern Ali Baba’s cave.
But it would be an omission not to mention the iconic Foire aux Santons, established on Place Charles de Gaulle. It is here that Provençal heritage is proudly displayed with the meticulous work of local santonniers, and craftsmen of these small figurines that populate Christmas nativity scenes. This meeting is an immersion in the ancestral traditions and folklore of Provence.
- Dates: from December 1 to December 31, 2023
- Information: Christmas celebrations in Marseille
9. Colmar: Dazzle at the winter Christmas market
Not only recognized as one of the most resplendent Christmas markets in France, but the Colmar Christmas market is also often cited among the European jewels of this tradition. From the start of the festive season, Colmar takes on an enchanting atmosphere, with its multiple markets scattered along its picturesque streets:
- The Place Jeanne d’Arc Market, a true ode to Alsatian gastronomy, invites you to discover a myriad of regional products, from sweet treats to savory delights.
- The Artisans Market, nestled in the heart of Koïfhus, is the scene of local artisanal excellence. We admire the expertise of potters, master glassmakers, woodcarvers, ceramists, and even talented hatters.
- The Little Venice Market, with its magical atmosphere, is a true paradise for young people. The wooden houses are overflowing with enchanted toys, while a lively nativity scene, a sparkling merry-go-round, and dazzling illuminations amaze young and old.
If you’re looking for authentic festive ornaments, the Place des Dominicains Christmas Market is your destination. The stalls are full of traditional and innovative decorations to beautify your celebrations.
Finally, for epicureans in search of culinary delights, the last market is a gourmet invitation. Nine cabins welcome renowned chefs and master restaurateurs, ready to amaze you with their culinary creations. Whether it’s a lunch, a convivial aperitif, or a dinner under the stars, a true carnival of flavors awaits you.
- Dates: November 23 to December 29, 2023
- Information: Christmas in Colmar
10. Lyon: Festival of Lights at the Christmas market
In Lyon, the end of the year is marked not only by the huge market that takes place at Place Carnot but also by the extremely famous Festival of Lights. If you can, plan your trip to take advantage of both events because it’s worth the detour. The works presented during the Festival of Lights are generally grandiose; they attract audiences from all over the world. As for the market, it brings together in a warm atmosphere nearly 90 artisan chalets who come to present their products. Activities are planned for children, and various food stands will warm up those with a sweet tooth.
True to its reputation, gastronomy is in the spotlight in the Lyon market. A culinary offering that can also be found on the city’s other market is that of the Grand Hotel Dieu.
- Dates: from November 24 to December 24, 2023
- Information: Lyon Christmas Market
11. Mulhouse: Unique textile magic at the Christmas market
Looking for a unique Christmas market experience? Mulhouse should be at the top of your list. The particularity of this market lies in its remarkable tradition. Every year, the city unveils a new Christmas fabric, a decorative fabric specially created for the festivities. The chalets, the town hall, and even the tram are adorned with this motif, giving the city an unparalleled charm.
The organization of the Mulhouse market revolves around Place de la Réunion, the beating heart of the festivities, where a period carousel majestically sits. A few steps away, the courtyard of the Temple Saint-Étienne hosts activities for children, including a Christmas bauble-making workshop.
L’Etoile de Noël, located on the Place de la Réunion, is the rallying point where families and friends meet to share a mulled wine or a piece of kougelhopf. As for the Allée des Saveurs, it will seduce gourmets with its Alsatian specialties. Finally, don’t miss the Espace des Créateurs which highlights local talent by offering original artisanal creations.
Visitors will also be dazzled by the immense, illuminated tree. But also by the light show projected on the facade of the town hall, paying tribute to the rich textile history of the city.
- Dates: November 24 to December 27, 2023
- Information: Christmas in Mulhouse
Also read: Unveiling Germany’s 14 Most Enchanting & Must-See Christmas Markets: https://shamelesstravels.com/unveiling-germanys-14-most-enchanting-must-see-christmas-markets/.