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 50 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 a lot to keep everyone entertained from Christmas concerts, street performers, a Big Wheel and even a visit from Santa himself!
Marché de Noël, Rennes
22 November to 5 January
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 snow-covered 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
30 November to 31 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!
'LA CATHÉDRALE DE GUILLAUME', BAYEUX
30 November to 4 January
Discover Bayeux’s stunning cathedral as you’ve never seen it before, in celebration of William the Conqueror and the Bayeux Tapestry.
Thanks to new technologies, enjoy the spectacular animated projections of the Bayeux Tapestry in its original setting. Combined with commentaries on the history of the tapestry, feel immersed in this unique experience. You can also experience the stunning interior architecture of the cathedral as it’s lit up to represent different themes. Magical!
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.
“MONT MERVEILLEUX NOËL À L’ABBAYE”, MONT ST MICHEL
1 December to 6 January
Looking as stunning as usual, the Mont St Michel is a real Christmas delight. Enjoy the festive atmosphere are you stroll through the cobbled streets towards the abbey, with plenty of opportunities for some last minute Christmas shopping, or to try local tasty treats.
As you take a tour through the abbey, be transported to another world with the sights and smells of Christmas. Enjoy le Noël blanc de l’abbaye or discover the Table of Tales, and re-call your favourite childhood stories.
27 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’re looking for some traditional tasty treats for a winter feast, or looking for an artisan gift for someone special, there are over 80 chalets for you to explore.
More info: marchedenoelrouen.com
MARCHÉ DE NOËL, LE HAVRE
1 December to 5 January
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 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!
Marché de Noël, Nantes
22 November to 24 December
Technically in Pay de la Loire but for centuries the capital of Brittany, Nantes celebrates Christmas with a huge market 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
7 December to 5 January
Be welcomed into seven 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 Childhood Dreams' whilst Azay-le-Rideau reveals a sweet tooth with an exhibition of sweets and chocolate, and other gourmet delights. And if horticulture is more your thing then enjoy beautiful floral displays decorating each room at Chenonceau, or stroll through the gardens of Villandry, where festive atmosphere spreads throughout the grounds. If none of that takes your fancy, enjoy the changing Christmas tree decoration of Chinon, the winter folk tales at Loches, or discover Christmas treasures at Langeais.
More info: www.touraineloirevalley.com/je-decouvre/les-chateaux-de-la-loire/noel-au-pays-des-chateaux
Marché de Noël, Bordeaux
27 November to 29 December
If you fancy going further South in France then you'll be spoilt with the 100 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.