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The ultimate guide to Christmas in France

A cobbled street, half timbered houses decorated for Christmas, Colmar, Alsace, France

There’s nothing quite as festive and fun as an authentic Christmas break in France. Wandering along charming squares and frosty cobbled streets where the breath-taking ancient architecture of historic cities provides the perfect backdrop for the twinkling Christmas lights in December is magical. Check out our ultimate guide to Christmas in France.

Warm up with a mug of spicy mulled wine and nibble sweet roasted chestnuts at the dazzling Christmas markets while you listen to the soft sounds of seasonal songs around a Christmas tree and shop at dinky, decorated fairy-tale-like chalets teeming with unique artisan-made gifts. Indulge in scrumptiously sweet cakes, wonder at the lavish Christmas decorations and sip hot chocolate in cosy cafés.

Find your perfect French Christmas match…

Guide to Christmas in France 2022

Christmas in Paris

Rue Montorgeuil, an ancient cobbled street in Paris, decorated with Christmas lights

From the end of November Paris takes on a festive look. Shops are busy with people looking for Christmas gifts, fine food stores are full of exceptional products, excited children rush to look at toys displayed in shop windows … And above all, the loveliest streets and avenues in the city are decked out in magical lights. More than ever, the capital lives up to its name as the ‘City of Light’! Be captivated by the Christmas season in Paris.

Click on the links below for loads more details:

Christmas markets in Paris

Best places for the Christmas lights in Paris

Where to shop for gifts and sweet treats in Paris

10 things to do on Christmas Eve in Paris

15 things to do on Christmas Day in Paris

Best things to do in Paris in Winter

And finally, carousel rides for kids are free on carousels across Paris from the last week of December to the first week of January!

Christmas markets in Alsace and Loraine

Street in Colmar, Alsace, lined with Christmas trees and wooden chalets selling gifts

The French Christmas markets were started in Strasbourg in the 16th Century, it was where Christmas trees were first taken into people’s homes, and also where the Christmas bauble was invented!

Yes – those wonderful French Christmas markets we all love so much started right there in Alsace almost 500 years ago. The first one took place in Strasbourg in 1570 – it’s still going strong and the “Christkindelsmärik,” as it is known, is the oldest Christmas market in France.  Strasbourg is known as the “Capital of Christmas”.

Not surprisingly other villages and towns in Alsace followed the example set by trendy Strasbourg and now there are more than 100 Christmas markets in Alsace. Click the links below for more details:

Strasbourg Christmas market

Mulhouse Christmas Market

Colmar Christmas market

Village Christmas market in Riquewihr, Alsace

Metz Christmas market and fabulous Lantern festival

Christmas in northern France

View overlooking Bethune central square with a Christmas market, Ferris Wheel and carousel

Northern France loves its Christmas markets! The scent of roasting chestnuts, mulled wine and spicy gingerbread fills the air. Lights twinkle, the aromas from gourmet stalls offer a tantalising hint of gastronomic delights, and chairs on pavements outside cafés are full of people sipping wine or chocolat chaud and enjoying the festive feeling. Click on the links below for more details:

Lille Christmas market – 4000 shops, a great Christmas market and snow village, bucket loads of culture, what’s not to love!

Bethune Christmas market – friendly, festive and fabulously authentic

Boulogne-sur-Mer – If you like your Christmas markets cosy, authentic and utterly pretty, this one is for you.

Arras – a lovely authentic Christmas market

Le Touquet – a truly pretty Christmas market and lovely festive lights.

Licques Fete des Dindes – the quirkiest Christmas festival in France. Turkeys parading in the streets, a fabulous gourmet market and a tea dance for 1000 people!

Christmas chateaux

Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte, Ile de France, it's long avenue lined with decorated Christmas trees

French chateaux and Christmas – it’s a perfect partnership! Several of the big name castles put on a show at Christmas including the magnificent Vaux-le-Vicomte where they go all out festive with thousands of lights and decorations. The Loire Valley is a wonderful place to be at Christmas – many châteaux will be dressing up in their Christmas finery, and the entire city of Blois will make merry with its Winter Festival. Click on the links below for more details:

Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte goes full on glamorous for Christmas

Chenonceau, the castle of flowers  and other great Lorie Valley Chateaux at Christmas

More Christmas markets

Reims Christmas Market

Christmas markets in Pays de la Loire

Rouen Christmas market

Delicious recipes with a French festive flavour

Slice of French Buche de Noel, yule log cake

In our guide to Christmas in France 2019 – of course we have to include some delicious dishes! Christmas in France is all about food and enjoying a meal with your friends and family. In the land of French Cuisine, where gastronomy has been recognised with a UNESCO world heritage rating, Christmas is a time to indulge and enjoy the best of fabulous French food. The focus at this time is firmly on the table.

Oeufs en Cocotte – perfect French breakfast at Christmas

Kugelhopf cake by Rachel Khoo of My Little French Kitchen

Ham hock terrine with soused vegetables by Raymond Blanc who says this is perfect for a Christmas buffet

Chocolate orange truffles

How to make a French Buche de Noel – yule log

Michel Roux’s chestnut and apple soup

Christmas flavoured classic Champagne cocktails

Christmas Paris Brest cake

Chocolate macarons by Pierre Hermé of Paris

Spiced mulled pears French style

Chocolate cake truffles

Galette des Rois – the cake of Kings, eaten at Christmas and New year and almost obligatory for 6 January, the day of the Epiphany.

Snails in garlic butter

Christmas tours

Provence at Christmas is truly special and a brilliant time to discover the secrets of Provence. The famous 13 desserts of Christmas, the pretty markets, wine and truffles, amazing food and the prettiest villages and towns decorated for the season. Find out more about Provence Christmas tours

Ophorus host private and shared half day and day Alsace market Christmas tours including visits to nearby German Christmas markets from Strasbourg

And finally for some festive cheer – follow us on Facebook and enjoy our famous Advent Calendar photos

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