10 festive cities to visit in France at Christmas

Written by on November 28, 2019 in Christmas Markets

We look at some fabulously festive cities to visit in France at Christmas. You’re guaranteed a bit of Christmas magic here!

Strasbourg

Head for Strasbourg‘s Christmas market. Known locally as the Christkindelsmarik, it’s the oldest in Europe. From the end of November to the end of December it’s full of beautiful lights and decorations. There is a most festive Christmas market and the tallest decorated Christmas tree in Europe.  Take a boat ride, wander from one Christmas market to another – there are eleven, and prepare to be awed by the fabulous decorations on almost every street. Alsace Christmas markets 2019 

Sarlat

Shop window lit brightly and a tiny wooden door with a single silver star at Christmas in Sarlat, Dordogne

In the year-round-gorgeous Dordogne, the town of Sarlat hosts three weeks of colour and warmth at its Christmas village. It’s made up of forty-two charming chalets set up around an ice skating rink. The village showcases the work of craftsmen from all over France and a variety of goods are on offer to provide you with unforgettable gift ideas.

Gourmets will appreciate the many products to be enjoyed on site or taken away. Truffles, walnuts, foie gras are some of the favourites of the locals. There’s a tavern at the heart of the market where you can warm up with a mulled wine or Christmas beer. The festive atmosphere and enchanting holiday décor are lovely.  Starts early December www.sarlat-tourisme.com

Dijon

Place de la République in Dijon is even more vibrant than usual at Christmas with little wooden chalets in a magnificent location. There is an ice rink in the Place de la Liberation and a little train for rides at Place Darcy. Don’t miss the superb market, Dijon is a foodie paradise. See tourist office website for details. www.visitdijon.com 

Reims

The Christmas market at Reims is the biggest in the region. It’s also one of the largest in France with 135 chalets offering a range of gourmet products, arts and crafts and creative gift suggestions. This renowned market is held annually in the tree-lined pedestrian streets around Place d’Erlon and the city centre, all beautifully illuminated and decorated. There’s also an international craft market, ice-skating rink and Santa’s Grotto in the Place du Forum. There’s  a traditional funfair and Ferris Wheel offering spectacular views over this coronation city. And a sound and light show at the Cathedra. Plus events, creative workshops and concerts throughout the region. Enjoy gourmet food, crafts and festive gifts and of course a glass or two of the fizzy stuff.

Open every day from end November to end December. More info www.champagne-ardenne-tourism.co.uk

Limoges

The town of Limoges celebrates Christmas in style. At the Place de la Motte you will discover around thirty artisans and producers who will share their Christmas treats. From candy to clothing and of course, the famous porcelain of Limoges. End November to beginning of January. www.limoges-tourisme.com

Tours

Christmas tree in a gallery of the Chateau of Chenonceau, Loire Valley

Many of the Loire Valley Chateaux put on their winter and Christmas finery for real wow factor appeal and Tours makes for a great base. From here head to the stunning chateau of Chenonceau,  full of sumptuous floral bouquets. Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chinon, Langeais and Loches all put on a show. From the beginning of December to the beginning of January, these Loire Valley châteaux get into the festive spirit with exceptional tours and events.

Montpellier

Discover Montpellier in its winter clothes! From the end of November to the end of December, Montpellier lights up in vibrant colours for a Mediterranean style Christmas. There is a traditional market, local crafts and parades. During the whole month, there’s a festive atmosphere on the Place de la Comédie, in the heart of Montpellier.  www.destinationsuddefrance.com

Lille

Christmas market at Lille, northern France

From the last week in November to end December, the Grand Place in Lille will be transformed with chalets, a Ferris wheel and an 18 metre-high Christmas tree. There is a lively Christmas market in Place Rihour. With thousands of shops  from high street to unique boutique, Christmas shopping here is on a different level. More on the Christmas market at Lille. lilletourism.com

More on Lille Christmas market

For a truly charming Christmas market head to Boulogne-sur-Mer (about 30 minutes from Calais port) for the middle weekend of Decemver. Head to the Old Town to find elves, knights animals, festive stalls, beautiful decorations galore. There are lovely light displays in this really authentic Christmas market. Warm up at the newly extended NAUSICAA, Europe’s largest aquarium – it’s astonishingly good.

Read more about Boulogne Christmas market

Puy du Fou

Yup, we know, it’s not officially a city but it kind of is, a city within a park! Celebrate at Puy du Fou theme park Vendée, with a quirky take on Christmas. Puy du Fou is a unique and frankly amazing French experience. Best described as a historical theme park, they put on re-enactments, displays and special effects on a grand and epic scale and Christmas is no exception. Read our review.

More on Christmas in France

Ultimate guide to Christmas in France – everything you want to know. From Christmas markets to recipes and where to see the lights in Paris, and much much more!
How to spend Christmas Eve in Paris
15 things to do on Christmas Day in Paris

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