Christmas Markets In France
The origins of celebrating Christmas with street markets throughout Advent can be traced back to the 14th century in German speaking parts of Europe. Throughout the centuries, Alsace and Lorraine have been on the western fringe of this area, but since these regions became part of France, Christmas markets have become part of French tradition and have spread throughout the country.
These markets offer local produce and crafts typical of the surrounding areas, with food and drink forming a large part of what is on offer, from traditional sweets and roast chestnuts, to fine local cheeses. There are also lots of hand-made toys and crafts available directly from the people who created them.
With a great atmosphere, festive music and good cheer, festive markets offer a wonderful environment to experience an integral part of French culture between the end of November and Christmas, which can really complement a language visit.
There are significant markets in the Nord, Pas de Calais and Somme departments of Northern France.
Where To Go
As the capital of the region and the largest city in the north of France, Lille offers a widespread and varied Christmas Market. A favourite feature of their market is the large Ferris wheel that takes pride of place in the Grande Place. Most of the 4000 shops also join in the festive displays and offers.
Throughout Advent the Christmas Market takes over the Grande Place in the heart of the town. With over 80 stalls, the traditional Christmas Market in Arras is enhanced by an Ice Rink and musical events.
The Christmas Market in Amiens has 135 stalls to explore, with a range of local produce to enjoy. Each evening throughout December, the Cathedral is spectacularly illuminated. There is always the possibility to add to visit the sites and memorials of World War 1 whilst in the area.
As a specific venue for Christmas Markets, Paris is not usually the first place that springs to mind. However, throughout the Advent season the Champs Elysées (between the Place de la Concorde and the Rond-point des Champs Elysées) has market stalls on both sides of the avenue open from 10:30am each day until midnight, with an extension to 1am on Friday and Saturday evenings. Visit our Paris page for our suggestions for accommodation and further activities.
Your students may well appreciate combining this Christmas Market with Christmas at Disneyland Paris.
Where To Stay
We can offer a choice of hotels and hostels to suit your needs.
Our preferred accommodation for youth groups in this area is the School Hotel in Albert. This modern accommodation is built specifically for youth groups and each of the three floors is a self- contained area with its own recreation and relaxation facilities and en suite rooms.
It offers easy access to all three markets. Lille is 57 miles away, Amiens is 18 miles away and Arras only 23 miles away.
Where To Go
Christmas Markets came to France through Alsace and its German heritage, so for the most authentic Christmas Market experience and a practical lesson in using French, why not head for Strasbourg?
Strasbourg Christmas Markets run from the end of November until the New Year and during that time there is always a parliamentary session for your students to observe and meet one of their local MEPs.
The delightful and historic Colmar also offers Christmas Markets during the same period.
An added bonus to choosing Alsace for your Christmas Market visit is the chance to cross into Germany and experience a flavour of Black Forest markets in Freiburg.
There is also a Christmas Market at Europapark - Germany’s most successful theme park.