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The best Paris Christmas markets and what to find there
Paris turns into a Christmassy winter wonderland every year around the holiday season. Festive lights and luminous decorations are hung along the city streets, decorated Christmas trees pepper major squares, and shop windows put out their best holiday-themed displays for passersby. Most impressive and magical of all, though, are the city’s many Christmas markets. Filled with all of the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the holidays, a visit to any of one of these quintessential holiday markets is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit. Read on to learn more about the capital’s best markets this year and what to find there.
The Christmas Fair within the jardin des Tuileries
For the second year in a row, Paris’s largest and most-visited Christmas market, the Champs-Élysées Christmas fair, will be held within the jardin des Tuileries, on the rue the Rivoli side. Anywhere from 13 to 15 million people visit this market every year! It’s become a holiday must in the capital, and is the place to be for the most holiday cheer. The fair is complete with a food market of 20 vendors, representing the 20 regions of France, a 500 m2 ice skating rink for skaters of all ages and levels, and fairground rides and attractions, like flying swings, mazes, mini train rides, and the iconic ferris wheel, offering visitors the most magical view of the city. Kids can enjoy the puppet theater, interactive Christmas story-times, and Christmas sing-alongs. Most surprising of all, if they look up, they may just see Santa flying by on his sleigh! For the adults, wine and champagne bars, as well as several restaurants, have their own tents within the fair for ultimate comfort and relaxation. 10 French artisans specializing in crafts like glassblowing and cabinet-making will also be present, sharing their know-how and selling their products. While you’re in the area, be sure to head up the Champs-Élysées to view the festive lights all along the avenue.
The Christmas market at Saint-Germain-des-Près
The Saint-Germain-des-Près Christmas market is back for it’s 20th season, running this year until January 5th. Products made by local and international artisans will be for sale, as well as everything you need for your French holiday celebrations like foie gras, chocolate, charcuterie, desserts, champagne, and of course mulled wine. This year, for the first time ever, the Comité Saint Germain, a committee of local shopkeepers, will celebrate its 20th birthday with a light show projected on the Église Saint-Germain. Every 20 minutes from 5 to 9 PM, the light show will decorate the historic church with designs by Delacroix, Picasso, Manet, and Man Ray. A must-see!
The Christmas market at Notre-Dame
About 30 vendors, all artisans and designers, are present in square Viviani, off quai Montebello, from December 13th until December 29th for the Notre-Dame Christmas market, voted the most charming Christmas market in Paris. This is the place to go if you’re looking for quality hand-made items crafted with care by expert artisans. You can find decorative objects, candles, ceramics, glass pieces, hand-painted Christmas ornaments, silk and cashmere scarfs, silver jewelry with precious stones, wooden toys, leather-bound books, and Nativity scenes carved from olive wood. French gastronomy is also alive and well at this Christmas market, with regional products like dried sausages, foie gras, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, and cheese for sale. Kids can even get a picture with Santa and enter to win a stuffed animal every Sunday.
The Alsatian Christmas Market at gare de l’Est
The 38th annual Alsatian Christmas Market is back, located on the main square of gare de l’Est until December 20th. This is the oldest Alsatian Christmas market outside of the region itself, and is perfect place to visit for a dose of good Christmas cheer. Here you can find traditional Alsatian wares, hand-made by regional artisans, as well as quintessential Alsatian delicacies, like kougelhopf, bredele, gingerbread and brioche männele, and potato pancakes, as well as local cheeses, wines, charcuteries, and liquors.
The Christmas village and mini market at l’Hôtel de Ville
A Christmas village will be set up on the main square in front of Paris’s City Hall from December 13th to January 1st. Festive lights and Christmas trees, grown in eco-friendly, local farms, will decorate the square while Christmassy light shows and animations will be projected onto the exterior of the City Hall building itself. Kids will be able to ride two wooden carousels for free and take pictures with Santa until December 24th. A curling sheet will even be installed for lovers of the winter game. The mini market will spotlight local Parisian artisans, with 10 stands offering their “made in Paris” wares. Gingerbread cookies, Christmas tree shaped meringues, waffles, and mulled wine will also be for sale. While in the area, be sure to walk by the window displays at the BHV, located right next door!
The ST LAZ’ MARKET at gare Saint-Lazare
Gare Saint-Lazare welcomes its very own Christmas market until December 24th. Located on the main square of the station, the ST LAZ’ MARKET is unlike your traditional Christmas market, with its focus on major brand names in tech, fashion, and gastronomy. Come celebrate 25 years of Playstation with a retrospective of its video game consoles, see the new Falcon Millenium set from LEGO Star Wars, or peruse the many original watches by designer Olivia Burton. Gift wrapping is included. Shoppers will also be able to donate new gifts to French non-profit Secours Populaire Français for their holiday gift drive.
The Christmas market at La Canopée des Halles
The second annual Canopée des Halles Christmas market is on until December 29th. Located above the Forum des Halles, close to 30 vendors have set up shop around the perimeter of la canopée, selling their original artisan creations, like jewelry, clothing items, and accessories, as well as kitchen products and Christmas decorations. Certain chalets also offer hot drinks and food, like mulled wine, waffles, and tartiflettes. Delicious! In the middle of all the action, directly beneath the canopy, lies the market’s beautifully lit Christmas tree, unmissable at over 20 meters tall.
Source: Les Marchés de Noël à Paris 2019
Cover Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France [CC BY 2.0]