There's something just that bit more Christmassy about a French Christmas market over a UK one and in Normandy you can stock up on those unique Norman gifts that you can't get anywhere else...
Visiting a Christmas market is one of those great annual traditions but why not give your Christmas a Norman flavour this year? Here are our favourite Christmas markets in Normandy that are close to our ports so that you don't have to go too far to get all your delicious food and drink back home and under the Christmas tree!
Open from 26/11/15 - 27/12/15
Place de la Cathédrale, Rue des Carmes & Rue Georges Lanfry
Rouen's Christmas market has grown significantly in recent years, from 27 chalets in 2011 to a total of 76 this year. Set up under the beautiful backdrop of Rouen cathedral, made famous in Monet's paintings, the market is a magical place to do your Christmas shopping and there's a lot of different gift ideas on offer.
Nearly half of the products on sale in the chalets change every year so, alongside your traditional gifts of arts and crafts and Norman food and drink, you'll find some more unusual presents such as organic cosmetics, soiless plants, 3D maps and even Canadian gifts. Don't miss out on enjoying a warming glass of mulled wine as you browse the varied stalls.
Open from 28/11/15 - 27/12/15
Place Saint-Saveur, Caen
We love Caen and we love it even more at Christmastime! The large Place Saint-Saveur is a prettily paved area featuring statues and old buildings that is surrounded by lots of cafés, restaurants and shops. And, Caen's market has over 60 chalets selling everything traditional and French that you could want for Christmas! There's also a Santa's grotto and, after a parade through the town centre on the 5th December, he will take up residence at the grotto for children to visit him - and he will wander around the market each day so be sure to wish Père Noël a Joyeux Noël if you see him!
Outside the bustling Rives de l'Orne shopping centre, you'll be greeted by a giant 11 metre high tree covered in 16,000 LED lights - it's one of only three such trees in the country, the others are in Strasbourg and Paris. And, if you really want to get into the funfair spirit, head for the Ferris wheel outside the town hall which is open for New Year too until the 10th January. You'll get a unique view of the stunning Gothic Abbaye aux Hommes and the beautiful Mairie building and its gardens.
Open from 1/12/15 - 24/12/15
Outside the Hôtel de Ville
Popular with families, Le Havre's Christmas market is now enjoying its 12th year and has 30 chalets filled with handicrafts like carved wooden toys, lamps and Christmas decorations as well as lots of delicious food and drink. The smells of roasting chestnuts and mulled wine will fill the air as you shop for delicacies including gingerbread, champagne, chocolates, sweets and more. There are also a few chalets that are rented daily by local artisans so that there's constantly something a bit different.
Children will enjoy the miniature village and having their photo taken with Santa on his sleigh and you can even take a carriage ride, leaving from Place Perret, to admire the Christmas illuminations. There's also a Ferris wheel beside the market and on some days you can enjoy live music with a barrel organ player lending an old-fashioned sound and, on the 4th December, a choir will be there to make sure you're really in the festive mood!
Open from 10/12/15 - 03/01/16
Around the Old Dock (Vieux Bassin)
An intimate little market located around the marina at Quai Sainte-Catherine, Honfleur's Christmas market is as quaint as you would expect from the City of Painters and the chalets in front of the moored boats and famous slim waterfront houses make a picturesque Christmas scene. Great for picking up traditional stocking fillers such as arts and crafts and jewellery, there's also a nice selection of food stalls selling Norman cidre, calvados brandy and all sorts of regional cheeses.
Honfleur's local restaurants are also creating festive menus for Christmas and New Year and you can pick up a special brochure about what's on offer from the tourist office on Quai Lepaulmier.
What's your favourite Christmas market in Normandy and what do you like to buy there? Tell us in the comments below.