It’s amazing how many people visit Boulogne-sur-Mer on the Opal Coast in northern France and never even know that there’s a truly special old town. Vielle Boulogne, enclosed by ancient ramparts is even more magical at Christmas.
Enter the old town through the immense stone gates cut into the high walls and discover a real winter wonderland. This is one of my favourite Christmas markets – authentic, friendly, buzzing and very festive.
From the elves running around making the kids laugh, to the knights of old careering around on their wooden horses – horsing about, this is a very theatrical Christmas market with lots of surprises. The pedestrianised beautiful rue de Lille, lined with ancient and beautiful stores is lit up with thousands of twinkling lights, it’s a spectacular sight. At the top of the road is the beautiful old Basilica of Notre Dame. Its dome dominates the sky line. Pop in to admire the traditional French crèche (nativity scene) in a very beautiful setting.
The main square is sparkling with lights, trees and garlands. Filled with stalls, the scent of ginger bread, hot chestnuts and mulled wine hangs on the cold air. There are sellers of cheese, sausages, locally smoked herring and other gourmet delights as well as arts and crafts, and gifts galore.
A band strolls the streets playing lively and festive music. In the little park there’s a petting zoo. There are illuminations all round the UNESCO listed Belfry. But, it’s the authentic and charming atmosphere here that will entrance children of all ages – even the grown up ones!
It is a 30 minute drive from the port of Calais. And, it’s just twenty minutes from Eurotunnel to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Parking is usually not a major issue.
Boulogne-sur-Mer Christmas market 2023
When? 8-10 December, 2023
Find out more fabulous things to do in the Pas-de-Calais at: visitpasdecalais.com
More on Boulogne-sur-Mer
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The incredible crypt of the Basilica Notre Dame, Boulogne-sur-Mer
5 places to stop off for fish and chips near Boulogne
It might not surprise you to know that mostly – Christmas in France is all about food… so buckle up, or maybe unbuckle your belt, for a fun, festive and foodie podcast: The A to Z of Christmas in France