Thinking of spending Christmas this year in France? You are sure to love it! The pageantry of Christmas leading up to the holiday is grand and festive and yet a certain air of peace and serenity descends over France during Christmas. There are dozens of Christmas related activities in France during Christmas, not to forget numerous exciting Christmas markets. Christmas in France is a major celebration, as is in most other Christian countries across the world. It is a public holiday, and a great time to plan a visit to this beautiful country to brighten your Christmas with a stroke of French tradition.
- Christmas In France Facts
- Places To Spend Christmas In France
- Christmas Markets To Visit In France
- Reasons To Spend Christmas In France
- FAQs About Christmas In France
Interesting Facts About Christmas In France
Traditional French Christmas celebrations include attending a mass at the local church on Christmas eve. After mass, families gather together for a long and sumptuous meal called Réveillon, in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Besides great Christmas food in France, there are a number of other traditions unique to the country. There are no cards and no carol singers on Christmas. The French like to spend Christmas in a quiet and sober manner.
Families huddle together and play France Christmas games around the fireplace. Rather, than setting out colorful stockings for Santa to fill, kids in France leave their shoes instead! They wake up to find their shoes brimming with goodies, candies, and cookies! Writing to Santa Claus is a tradition in most countries, but in France, Santa always writes back! These were just a few of the dozens of fun facts about Christmas day in France. Plan a visit to Christmas to unravel many more!
6 Best Places To Spend Christmas In France
If your are planning to spend Christmas in France, make sure you visit these places to witness the charm and celebrations:
There isn’t a city that is as romantic as Paris. Brightly lit during Christmas, Paris is quite a sight to behold. Right from the iconic Eiffel Tower to Marais, and Notre Dame, all of Paris’ landmarks are lit up and the many bustling boutiques and unique ambience, add to the festivities of the season.
There are numerous Christmas markets hosted in the city every year during Christmas, where you can experience the celebration of Christmas in France’s traditions. The market at La La Défense, in particular, is a must-visit. It is the largest market in town, located right in front modern high-rise buildings. During the days leading up to Christmas, traditional wooden chalets are set up all the way to La Grande Arche.
Must Experiences: Visit Eiffel tower, go skating on the ice rink at Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, treat your taste buds to a gastronomic experience at Gare de l’Est, enjoy incredible hilltop views at Montmartre market.
Temperature in December: An average of 4°C
How to Reach:
By Air: There are 3 international airports in France – Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Beauvais, and Orly International Airport. A number of airlines operate flights to and from most other parts of the world.
By Road: Paris enjoys good bus service and is linked to most other cities of the country. Eurolines runs a number of busses to and from other cities in France.
By Rail: You may also travel to Paris via train from most parts of Europe.
For the best ever Christmas experience in France, head to Toulouse. There is an air of festivity in the entire city. Place du Capitole, located outside the grand town hall, features rows of wooden chalets huddled next to each other, all selling vintage artisanal products. This market is a great place to shop for gifts as the variety is simply tremendous.
You will find everything from pottery, to handmade jewelry, to clothes, and even cute France Christmas Ornaments and keepsakes at this market. Be sure to taste some traditional foie gras and cake served at the stalls. Take a selfie by the side of the giant Father Christmas on your way out. An important aspect of celebrations of Christmas in France, decorations, and manger crib can be seen here.
Must Experiences: Plan a trip to the Chinese Lantern Festival, just an hour’s drive away. This spectacular event is nothing like you have ever experienced.
Temperature in December: An average of 2.7°C
How to Reach:
By Air: Fly into Blagnac Airport 11 km west of downtown Toulouse. There are flights to Blagnac from major cities such as London, Paris, Munich, and Frankfurt.
By Rail: You may catch the national intercity train. Tickets are available on portals such as iDTGV.
By Road: An inexpensive way to travel to Toulouse is by bus. There are numerous busses to Toulouse from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Belgium.
Suggested Read: 10 Offbeat Destinations In Europe Straight Out Of Fairy Tales
When winter sets in, the lifts in Morzine open! The Christmas lights twinkle, and the whole city is ready to welcome Santa. This beautiful city in France is a great place to revel in the festivities of Christmas. The city hosts a number of Santa Crawls for the party lovers.
These parties are free to join for anyone with a Santa costume. Kick off a fun old family Christmas by heading to bars that host Xmas Carol Mega parties. A trip to Morzine, is a great way to enjoy a cocktail of a traditional yet contemporary France Christmas celebration.
Must Experiences: Meet Santa at the town square, hit the slopes, take a spin on an indoor rink, hop onto a Parapente ride to pump up some adrenaline, treat yourself to a hammam, spend a night in a chalet in the snowy mountains.
Temperature in December: An average of -5°C
How to reach:
By Air: Fly into one of the closest airports at Geneva, Chambery, Grenoble, or Lyon. If you are traveling from outside France, Geneva would be the best bet.
By Rail: You can also board one of the fast TGV trains to Lyon or Paris and then on to Thonon or Cluses.
Get into the spirit of Christmas and be prepared to enjoy the warmest of welcomes in this winter wonderland. Located in Eastern France, Montbéliard turns into a page out of a fairy tale book, as Christmas eve in France approaches.
The locals in the city relive the tradition of Württemberg during advent and organize a grandiose Christmas market. There are over 160 colorful stalls brimming with authentic handicrafts and goods. Visitors may enjoy a number of scrumptious Christmas specials, and dance to the music and sound of carols.
Must Experiences: Pay a visit to the Musée de l’Aventure Peugeot museum. This fabulous gallery is more than just a museum, but a treasure trove of over 200 historic cars. Also, explore The Castle of the Dukes of Wurttemberg.
Temperature in December: An average of -5°C
How to reach:
By Air: There are a number of cheap flights to Basel-Mulhouse Euroairport, which is just a 50-minute drive from Montbéliard.
By Rail: The city is also served by TGV trains from Strasbourg, Paris, and Zurich. These trains stop at Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station located 20 km from the city center of Montbéliard.
Strasbourg is a destination which will make you believe in the beauty of the Christmas festivities. And if you’re thinking where to spend the Christmas in France, then this is the best place. It will make you look beyond the frosty weather. Located in the Alsace region of France, this place is decorated by a line of fairy lights, garlands of pine and also the wooden trinkets. The Christmas market in Strasbourg is one of the biggest and oldest places which has existed since the past 400 years. Located just in the middle of the Gothic Cathedral, these markets boasts wooden chalet-style stalls and handcrafted Christmas ornaments.
Must Experiences: Strasbourg is one of the best places to experience the oldest Christmas markets.
Temperature In December: An average of -5 degree celsius
How To Reach:
By Rail: There are cheaper flights running from Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport in France and Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport in Germany to reach Strasbourg. From there one can train which connects to the city. The main railway station in Strasbourg is Gare de Strasbourg.
By Road: Though the trains are the most convenient, but bus services can also be enjoyed from various European countries.
Take a closure to the French Christmas traditions in a different way here at Aix-en-Provence. This place is lined up with bustling Christmas market at Place Jeanne d’Arc which also features the handcrafted goods and local things. The traditions followed here in Aix-en-Provence are the age old things which are observed by the locals. And people can also get to taste the traditional delights of Christmas at this town in France.
Must Experiences: Experience the age-old traditions of the French locals during Christmas while at this city.
Temperature In December: An average of -5 degree celsius
How To Reach:
By Rail: There are TGV services by which Aix-en-Provence connects with Paris and Marseille. The station is located at a distance of 16Kms towards the west of the city.
By Road: People can take the Motorway A7 route to reach Paris or Lyon.
Christmas Markets To Visit In France
Here are some of the Christmas markets to visit in France which will definitely give you that vibe of the festival.
- The Montpellier Christmas Market
- Strasbourg Christmas Market
- Nice Christmas Market
- The Bordeaux Christmas Market
- The Roeun Christmas Market
1. The Montpellier Christmas Market
To enjoy the festive vibe of Christmas in Southern region, the Montpellier Christmas Market is the place where you should be. This traditional christmas market starts by the end of November and often called the Les Hivernales. While the city brims during this time of the season, there are places like the Comedie Square and the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle where around 160 local and regional merchants offer a wide variety of Christmas gifts like sweets, oysters, mulled wine, decoration items, toys, jewels and hot chocolates inside hundreds of small wooden huts.
Dates: November 27th to December 28th, 2019
2. Strasbourg Christmas Market
To witness the old world charm, Strasbourg is a place which should be counted down in the list to find the best Christmas markets in France. This is the oldest Christmas market in France which started in 1577 and every year around 2 million people fly down to witness that. The place glitters with all the Christmas lights and themed events along with a giant ice rink and a famous and 100 foot gigantic tree.
Dates: Friday, 22nd November to Tuesday, 31 December
3. Nice Christmas Market
Another place which oozes out the Christmas spirit is the Nice Christmas Market which is settled up alongside the French Riviera. The markets consists of around 60 stalls where people can try out delicious delights and also the nice vin chaud (hot wine). And adding to that there is a scope to go for ice skating. This is one of the biggest markets in France where there is a wide array of things to do apart from just shopping.
Dates: 6th December to 5th January
4. The Bordeaux Christmas Market
This is one of the most interesting and enchanting Christmas Markets in France which happens in Bordeaux. There are around 100 tiny themed stables installed at the Allees de Tourny in the middle of the town. Alongside this there are many more things to experience like the great food, drinks and delicacies which are located around the Bordeaux Christmas Market. And when here, you can’t miss out the mulled wine which will keep you warm during the Christmas season.
Dates: November 27- December 29, 2019
5. The Rouen Christmas Market
Dream about experiencing Christmas by the Seine River? If yes, then experience the best time of your life by the Rouen Christmas Market. Rouen is famous for being the capital city of Normandy and it has always been linked with the Joan of Arc. There is a blanket of magic spelled around this city during the Christmas time. The place brims with a joy of festivities which includes merry games, concerts and of course music. And in addition to all this there are 70 wooden chalets, French mulled wine and also ice skating to experience the wintery vibe.
Dates: November 27- 31 December, 2019
Suggested Read: France Nightlife: Learn The French Way To Get High On Life
8 Reasons Why You Must Spend Christmas In France
- The Christmas markets hosted in France are by far the most colorful, festive, and grand markets in all of Europe. This is a great time to explore the markets and soak up some Christmas spirit.
- Enjoy a traditional Le Réveillon, that stretches on late into the night – a once in a lifetime experience!
- A perfect excuse to enjoy some great wine. Vintage wines, Crémants, and Champagne are on the offering everywhere! These drinks paired with foie gras and cheeses add to the culinary experience!
- Wake up to glistening snow-covered mountains on a secluded chalet in the Alps.
- Christmas isn’t commercial in France. It is all about great food and bonding with your loved ones.
- Knowing the history of Christmas in France and its traditions are fun.
- This is a great time to hone your skiing skills. French ski resorts offer great discounts during the festive season.
- French Christmas decorations are truly breathtaking. But, there are plenty of other events, festivals, and France Christmas activities to celebrate winter, even before it is really Christmas. Fête des Lumières in Lyon, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais deserve a special mention.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and set out to enjoy a thrilling Christmas in France. Plan your vacation to France with TravelTriangle now and get ready to enjoy this jouyous festival with your loves ones in this wonderful country.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Best Places To Spend Christmas In France
Are there Christmas markets in France?
France exudes a fantastic atmosphere during Christmas. It hosts close to 12 traditional Christmas markets scattered across the country.
Which is the best Christmas market in France?
While each Christmas market is unique, some of the best markets are hosted in Paris, Lille, Colmar, Strasbourg, and Mulhouse. These markets wow several thousand visitors from across the world.
Where is the best place in France to spend Christmas?
Paris, is undoubtedly the best place in France to spend a Christmas vacation.
How do they celebrate Christmas in France?
The people in France set up a Christmas tree as a ritual and then visit a church service. And alongside that, they prepare an elaborated meal which is enjoyed with family and friends.
When did France start celebrating Christmas?
The Christmas celebration was started by the Reims in 496 when Clovis and his 3,000 warriors were baptized.
Do the French have Christmas trees?
In France, the Christmas tree is called the “un Sapin de noel” or un Arbre de noel”. The Christmas tree was first introduced in Alsace in 1521.
What are typical Christmas foods in France?
In France, the Christmas dinner includes roast turkey served with chestnuts or roasted goose. Apart from this oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and cheeses are also served. For the dessert, chocolate sponge cake is normally eaten.
Does it snow in France?
During winter snow hardly appears on the plains in the South of the Loire and in Paris. However, snow fall happens at the Alps and the Pyrenees.
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