Bring Some Gallic Flair to Your Festivities: Christmas in France

December 4, 2017

When most people think about spending the festive period on the continent, it’s usually Germany that springs to mind first, with its famous Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) being the main draw. But of course, Germany isn’t the only European destination that knows how to get into the Christmas spirit, and many Brits are coming to realise that France is every bit as special. What’s more is that Northern France is just a short ferry trip away from Dover or Newhaven, and has plenty to offer, whether you’re looking to get away over Christmas itself, of just for a couple of days in the run-up.


Shop Till You Drop.

Let’s start with the obvious – the shopping!  As with most major European hubs, France’s big cities have plenty of Christmas markets to choose from, and the very best are to be found in the Alsace region. Strasbourg’s market in particular is a stunning option, being one of the oldest and best rated Christmas markets in the whole of Europe. What’s more is that it’s less than two hours’ drive from Paris, and there are plenty of accommodation options. You’ll find all manner of pretty little trinkets, sweet treats and more.

We couldn’t talk about shopping without mentioning Paris itself.  One of the world’s greatest shopping destinations all year round, it’s the perfect place to buy special gifts for your friends and family. Many of the major browsing areas such as the world famous Champs-Élysées are lit up in a stunning display of lights to get you into the spirit. The Galeries Lafayette, one of France’s most prestigious department stores, is one of the big attractions for visitors, as it puts on an extravagant festive display that’s now world famous – much like our own upmarket stores, but with a classic Gallic touch.

Similarly, lots of the traditional French bakeries – or boulangeries – pack their windows with festive-themed decorations and treats, quite unlike anything else you’ll see. At the very centre of these will be what we know as yule logs, or bûches de Noël, which are delicious rolled chocolate sponge cakes. Grab a piece there and then, or take some inspiration back home with you.


Food & Drink.

Food is naturally going to be the focus at Christmas in France, and you certainly won’t be disappointed. The réveillon is a tradition not well known by people in the UK, but is a French festive staple. It involves a huge meal eaten usually among family on Christmas Eve. Réveillon in fact means ‘waking’, because this is a meal that often goes into the very early hours of the morning. If you’re in France at the right time, you’ll find that many restaurants have a special réveillon offering, which makes a special treat. Remember to book in advance though – many of the more popular restaurants will be very busy.

Wine is one of France’s most famous exports, and at Christmas you’ll be pleased to know that the tradition continues. What’s more is that you’ll discover a variety of new liqueurs and sweet wines at this time of year that you’ve probably never tried before. Everything from spiced, warming mulled flavours to delightful dessert wines.


Further Afield.

If you feel like travelling further afield, there are plenty of other exciting festive holiday ideas further down the country. The French Alps make a stunning snowy backdrop for your celebrations, especially if you’re a ski-lover. Alternatively, even in December the French Riviera is fairly mild, with daytime temperatures often in the mid-teens.

So there you have it – why not try something different this year by Christmassing in France? Whether it’s Paris, the Alps, or even the Riviera, there’s sure to be something for you.


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