10 great Christmas markets and events to visit in France 2016

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Explore the magic of Christmastime in France with a visit to some of its best markets and festive events...


Marché de Noël, Brest


Brest might not be the first place you think of to go shopping but its Christmas market of 40 chalets selling local produce and delicacies is a great spot to stock up for Christmas.

With tasty traditional treats and handmade crafts, you're sure to find something that will make an inspired gift for someone special. There's lots to entertain the kids too such as balloon modelling and face painting, a Big Wheel and a Christmas train carrying Santa himself!

Marché de Noël, Rennes

30 November to 31 December

Brittany's capital city needs little introduction as a beautiful backdrop to a Christmas market with its half-timber buildings lending it an air of nostalgia that's perfect at Christmastime.

You'll find its Christmas market of 40 chalets at the Place du Columbier outside the Columbia shopping centre. The perfect place for getting your treats and unusual gifts in the market whilst doing your high street shopping too.

More info: marchedenoelrennes.com


Marché de Noël, Caen

26 November to 28 December

Caen's Christmas market can always be relied upon for a good selection of festive products and quaint French gifts across its 60-odd stalls. Located in the pretty Place Saint Saveur, you'll find plenty of presents here. 

Santa takes up residence in his grotto on the 3rd after a parade through the city streets. You might even spot him on his daily walk about the market so be ready with your wishes of what you want for Christmas!

Les Hivernales, Falaise

1 December to 31 December

Falaise really goes to town at Christmas so a trip here will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit! Les Hivernales is a winter extravaganza and this year there's a medieval theme for the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

Head for the authentic medieval market with more than 70 artisans selling their crafts including wooden toys, Christmas decorations, pottery, paintings and antique jewelry. Or embrace your foodie side and enjoy the wealth of tasty morsels that's on offer at the market - roasted chestnuts, crêpes, waffles and, of course, there's the mulled wine!

There's also no shortage of entertainment with musicians, jugglers, clowns, a magnificent carousel and even horse and carriage rides.

If you've got kids with you then head to the castle, the childhood home of William the Conqueror, where you'll find the rooms have been transformed into a land of fairytale. Here you'll discover the story of a young knight called Enoé who goes on an epic adventure and meets all kinds of mysterious creatures. Sounds, light effects and video projections create a magical atmosphere for this exciting tale.

Choir singing, an exhibition of work by the artist who created Asterix and Obelix, and a cinema for children, showing animated shorts, are just some of the other things going on at this eclectic festival.

More info: www.falaise-tourisme.com

Mont St Michel Christmas lights

10 December to 15 January

Looking even more stunning than usual, the Mont St Michel is a real Christmas delight when it's all lit up for the festive season. The lights wind their way around the mont and there's plenty of decorations and Christmas trees once you make it onto the island.

If you need something to make you feel Christmassy then a chance to see this unique spot dressed up in its party clothes is the festive cheer you've been looking for.

Rouen Givrée

24 November to 31 December

There's always lots going on at Rouen's Christmas market which can be found in front of the famous Gothic cathedral. Givrée means 'frosty', and Rouen really likes to celebrate the festive season in style as a winter wonderland comes to town, complete with an ice rink and a Big Wheel.

The rows of snow white chalets nestle under the shadow of the cathedral and there's a great selection of gift ideas to snap up. Whether you want some warming winter spices for your Bake Off loving friend, artisan gifts for someone who likes their artwork a bit quirky or a selection of quality local produce for a winter feast, you'll find what you're looking for here.

more info: marchedenoelrouen.com

Marché de Noël, Le Havre

1 December to 24 December

Le Havre's Christmas market is always a pretty one. Located on the Place de l'Hotel de Ville and  framed by August Perret's city hall, you definitely won't be able to miss the market and its huge Big Wheel.

The light-up decorations and water fountain effects make a magical backdrop to the 40 white chalets filled with gingerbreads, wines, handicrafts and more. Make sure you enjoy some vin chaud, mulled wine, to really get into the Christmas spirit!

More info: marchedenoellehavre.com


Marché de Noël, Nantes

19 November to 24 December

Technically in Pay de la Loire but for centuries the capital of Brittany, Nantes celebrates Christmas with a huge market of 120 stalls selling produce from all around the region and across France. With lots of artisans selling original, locally-produced handicrafts and such a selection of local food and drink, you might well get all your Christmas shopping done here!

The bright red and white chalets can be found at the Place Royale and the Place du Commerce and will be so crammed with goodies that you'll be spoilt for choice what to get people this year. There's also lots of live music, street performers and a traditional carousel.

Santa can be found at home in his grotto from the 3rd of December on Wednesdays and at weekends and there's other activities like face painting going on too.

more info: marche-de-noel-nantes.com

Christmas in the land of castles

3 December to 8 January

Be welcomed into five of the most beautiful chateaux in the Loire Valley and you'll definitely leave your inner Scrooge outside the wreath-covered door. Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Chinon and Langeais are covered in sumptuous decorations for the festive season and are organising a whole set of things to see and do including tours and programs full of entertainment.

Amboise is hosting an exhibition about 'Christmas through the centuries' whilst Azay-le-Rideau reveals a sweet tooth with an exhibition of sweets and chocolate. And if horticulture is more your thing then Chenonceau will be home to more than a hundred fir trees to celebrate the Christmas season.

More info: www.touraineloirevalley.com/je-decouvre/les-chateaux-de-la-loire/noel-au-pays-des-chateaux


Marché de Noël, Bordeaux

25 November to 26 December

If you fancy going further South in France then you'll be spoilt with the 130 stalls at Bordeaux's market, in the heart of the city at the Allées de Tourny. There is food and gifts aplenty with a huge selection of chalets selling everything from necklaces to nougat. Of course, it's the place to pick up some wines and wine accessories for your favourite wine lover.

There's loads of fun activities and games for kids (and some for adults!) going on including fairground rides and, of course, Père Noël in his grotto. If it gets cold or you just want to take a bit of a break from all that shopping, head inside Ludi'Land, a covered indoor space with a nativity scene, a team escape hunt game and even an inflatable planetarium!

more info: marche-de-noel-bordeaux.com

What are your favourite Christmas markets and events to visit in France? Let us know in the comments below.

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