Can there be anywhere more magical than the snowy French Alps at Christmas? We think not!
There’s a ton of choice for festive Christmas markets but we’ve picked our top 5, plus where to stay to make the most of your magical time in the French mountains…
Nicknamed the “Venice of the Alps” Annecy – a year-round delight – positively sparkles in winter and its Christmas Market is irresistibly enchanting. There are 80 pop-up chalets where artisans offer a range of handmade goods, and local produce. There’s an open air ice skating rink, concerts and cribs, plus seriously tempting food stalls – rustic, scrumptious raclette and tasty tartiflette – and twinkling fairy lights galore. Annecy’s festive market runs from 19th November to 1 January 2023 and really channels the true spirit of Christmas.
Wrap up warm and wander the frosty cobbled streets of the old town. From the castle at the top of the town you’ll have great views over the surroundings. Whizz about the ice skating rink that’s set up for Christmas. Enjoy the sparkling lights. Stop for a hot chocolate at one of the many cosy cafés. Enjoy an aperitif at an outdoor café when the dusk turns velvet blue. With the snowy mountains backdrop this is an irresistible place for a festive holiday.Find out more about Annecy and the Annecy Mountains resorts at: www.annecymountains.com
Stay at: There’s plenty of choice in Annecy from apartments in the city to chalets around the lake – for couples, groups or families but we find it hard to resist the rather lovely SwansDoors. A gorgeous apartment that’s part of the old city walls with a view from the window over the Pont Perrière which crosses the Thious Canal. And it’s just steps from the stunning Palais de l’Île, one of the most stunning landmarks in a city full of unforgettable sites.
Les Gets, Portes du Soleil
They say that Santa Claus lives with his elves in Les Gets! Well it might not be true but this lovely resort does have a very festive vibe at Christmas. There’s a Christmas market, shows and fireworks. Superb pistes are suitable for skiers of all ages, including a Snow Garden for little ones. There’s also ski-joering, electric snow mobile and much more.
But it’s at dusk when this town reveals its unique magic. Alta Lumina is a sound and light show in an enchanted forest. If you ever read a fairy tale as a kid and wondered what it would be like to be “in” a land of fairy tales, this is probably how it would look, sound and feel. Trilling bird song, thousands of lights, and state of the art projection sees a hot air balloon lift off in in the forest and lead you through a story. It isn’t Disney, it has a gentle, soft, authentic vibe, drawing you into the heart of the forest, whispering of magic and bewitching tales.
Stay at: Chalet Joux Verte, a traditional style chalet with sauna and hot and glorious views, it simply adds to the magic of a stay in Les Gets.
At around 1.2km above sea level, Megève was once a medieval farming village. It’s now a charming, incredibly pretty ski destination with several Michelin starred restaurants. In winter the town puts on its Ritziest look and sparkles with thousands of lights. The central Christmas tree will be illuminated from 3 December until the end of the year and there’s a fun-filled calendar of events throughout the month including a Christmas market, parades, concerts, Reindeer visits, aperitifs in an igloo and much more. Find all the details: megeve-tourisme.fr/en
Where to stay: It’s hard to pick as there are just so many fabulous chalets here but hard to resist Chalet Goville in La Giettaz, ticks all the boxes when you want a bit of luxury, glorious views, room for family and friends, a sauna, hot tub with a view, ski room, boot warmer and even a wine cellar. Yes, it may be hard to leave this place but just outside the door are stunning slopes…
Lying between Megève and Albertville, the Valley of Arly comprises four village ski resorts with superb skiing and snow sports, including electric moon bikes. Traditional Christmas markets take place in each of the different resorts from 18-21 December. Views of the majestic Mont-Blanc, mugs of mulled wine – the steam making patterns in the air, gingerbread and dazzling snowy peaks. It’s got the lot. Find out more at the Val d’Arly Tourist office website valdarly-montblanc.com
Combined with a stay at the rather gorgeous Chalet Sabaroc you’ll make memories to cherish forever.
La Clusaz Aravis
There are plenty of gorgeous postcard pretty Alpine villages close to Annecy for a festive and feel good visit. But don’t miss out on La Clusaz’s incredible Christmas Festival, the Pesticales du Pere Noel. The lovely resort has been celebrating this fun event for more than 20 years – the biggest family street theatre in the winter in the Alps! It’s all about celebrating in this Christmas wonderland. It’s completely free and takes place 19-31 December 2023. Find out more: en.laclusaz.com
Stay at: It’s just so hard to pick just one stunning place for a super holiday in lovely La Clusaz, but Chalet Timan is pretty unbeatable. Ski-in/ski-out, sauna and fitness area, and magnificent views. You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere but lucky you, the ski bus stops just 150m away and its only a 15 minute walk to the centre of the village – you don’t need a car here!
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