We don’t think you need a lot of reasons to spend the holiday season in France. The fabulous festive markets, awesome food and wine, cakes and cheese are reason enough! But, just in case, we asked the France experts at holiday rental company French Connections to share some of their favourite places to spend Christmas in France…
The oldest Christmas market in Europe, 300 stalls, miles of twinkling fairy lights, the tallest decorated Christmas Tree in Europe and events galore. There’s nowhere quite like Strasbourg at this time of the year – guaranteed to make you feel like a kid at Christmas!
If you love the city in summer, you are sure to love it in winter. Throughout the whole of December, the Nice Christmas market is held every day in the central square Place Massena. Discover the enchanted forest, and numerous events that take place during the Christmas period. There are parades, concerts, ice skating, a Ferris Wheel and fantastic shopping. If the snow and chilly weather aren’t for you, the warmer climate in this Mediterranean city will make you very happy.
At the gateway to Champagne, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Reims offers a majestic setting for a Christmas Market that features 145 stalls. There’s not much that beats a glass of Champagne in Champagne. And at Christmas who can resist sipping the bubbles as you look out over the city from the Ferris Wheel…
A white Christmas in the mountains
On the other hand, if you’re partial to the snow – then head to the French Alps. Imagine waking up to a sparkling white Christmas in a beautiful snow-covered mountain village. There are many chalets to rent in the French mountains, perfect for couples, friends and families.
Tours Loire Valley
Tours is a great base from which to tour the Loire Valley and see some of the chateaux decked out in their finery. Chenonceau is incredibly pretty and unique for its exquisite floral displays in every room. Amboise, Azay-le Rideaux, Chinon, Laneais and Loches are also superb at Christmas.
The southern city of Montpellier gets its winter clothes on in December. There is a traditional market on the Charles de Gaulle esplanade selling local crafts and regional specialities. But it’s at night that you’ll really get a dose of Christmas spirit when the whole town lights up.
The Christmas market in Bordeaux is seriously pretty. Around 200 exhibitors sell handmade and beautifully-designed products. Some are locally-produced, such as pottery from Saint-Faust and blown glass from Vianne, others from more far-flung regions around the world. World-class restaurants, wine bars, cultural attractions and nightlife – you certainly won’t be worried about things to do at Christmas here.
Toulouse’s beating heart, the Place du Capitole is where you’ll find the city’s huge Christmas market. This vast square, in front of the grand town hall, features row upon row of wooden chalets nestled together, all selling artisanal products. With an enormous choice of fabulous restaurants, loads of museums and great shopping, Toulouse is a brilliant place to spend Christmas.
Hauts de France
The far north of France is often overlooked at Christmas. But, this is where you’ll find some of the best markets in France including Arras, one of the most popular in France, Lille and Amiens with its 800 year old Gothic Cathedral. Beautiful countryside, the Opal Coast, lovely towns like Le Touquet, Montreuil-sur-Mer and St Omer, hearty northern cuisine and some of the best cheese in France, make this an outstanding place to spend Christmas.
Paris is romantic – and at Christmas even more so. The shops and department stores dress their windows up to the nines. There are several Christmas markets and there’s an ice rink at the Eiffel Tower. Every boulangerie and patisserie will make a special bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log) and restaurants feature festive menus – what’s not to love?!