France is known for its wonderful markets, but one of the best times of year to visit is during the Santa season. There are several Christmas markets throughout France, with wonderful handcrafted ornaments, gifts and food items.
Plan your trip to visit the Christmas markets. Below is a list of some of the major markets:
Paris features several Christmas markets, with most starting sometime between late November and early December. Consult the Paris Tourism Office for a list of the markets, including the dates they are open. You can also get a taste of the City of Light in the season of lights by seeing my Christmas in Paris Picture Tour.
Strasbourg - Nov. 29 to Dec. 24 - This is one of the largest Christmas markets in France, and the setting in front of Strasbourg Cathedral is breathtaking. In its 431st year, this market in Alsace is the oldest Christmas market in France. Be sure to visit La Petite France, a cozy neighborhood of timbered fairy-tale buildings with Christmas shops and a gingerbread bakery. While you are this close to Germany, cross over the river and visit the Christmas markets there, too.
Mulhouse - Nov. 21 to Dec. 31 - This Alsatian market features shopping while sipping mulled wine and "bredele," or Christmas biscuits. The tourism office offers a package, "Discover Christmas in the Land of Christmas Carols and Fabrics," which features two nights' hotel stay, a dinner and entry to the Textile Printing Museum. For more information, call 033-389-35-48-48.
Alsace - The Alsace region in general is home to 35 Christmas markets. While it's impossible to list or detail them all here, be sure to check with the Alsace Tourism Office for details. You can also get a sneak preview with my Christmas In Alsace Photo Gallery.
Brest - Nov. 29 to Dec. 24 - The market in this small city (population 150,000) in Brittany features chalets selling Christmas wares. For more information, call 033-298-44-24-96.
Clermont-Ferrand - Dec. 2 to 24 - This market is in an Auvergne city with a beautiful gothic cathedral. While you're there, be sure to sample the local coq au vin. For more information, visit the [link url]Clermont-Ferrand Office of Tourism.
Besancon - December - The Christmas Fair is set in this adorable Franche-Compte village, also the home to an astronomical clock with 30,000 parts and several beautiful fountains. For more information, visit Franche Compte Office of Tourism.
Orleans - December - This wonderful Loire Valley city, and home to Joan of Arc, hosts a Marche de Noel. For more information, visit the Orleans Tourism Office.
Menton - December - The 15-day Worldwide Christmas festival in this charming Riviera town features lights, shows, the Christmas market and nativity scenes.