A Day of Christmas Shopping in Northern France

November 25, 2017

The picturesque cities of northern France are not only famous for their rich heritage, stunning architecture and outstanding cuisine. They are also fantastic shopping destinations, with gift ideas and presents you wouldn’t find anywhere else, from luxurious designer brands to well-known high street retailers to vintage and independent boutiques.

 

Lille

Housed in ornate, period buildings on Rue de la Grande Chaussée are a row of fabulous designer retailers. Swarovski, Louis Vuitton, Hérmes, Lacoste, as well as many more, make up this opulent parade. Lesser-known French designers, such as Zapa and Cyrillus can also be found here. For those looking for a more expensive gift, or something designer to wear for the party season, you’ll find it here.

There are also amazing vintage shops in Vieux Lille, Tilt Vintage on Rue de la Clef and Be Bop and Lula on Rue Jacquemars Giélée to name just two. The Oxfam Shop on Rue de l’Hôpital Militaire is perfect for picking up a second hand book, or there’s the daily book market on the fringe of the Grand Place.

For high street shopping, Euralille near the train station boasts an impressive 103 shops, with 25 restaurants to choose from when all that shopping starts making you hungry. Bershka, Hollister, H&M, Levi’s, Pull & Bear, the list goes on.

The famous Christmas market, the largest in the region, is another place to source some lovely Christmas presents. The wooden chalets offer heartfelt, homemade handicrafts and local souvenirs that make the most unique gifts.

 

Arras

Slightly further south than Lille, Arras is another French city with an array of shopping. The beautiful, medieval town boasts a range of shops from high street to high end.

Place des Héros, a popular square in the town centre, is a favourite shopping area among locals. Those with a sweet tooth may enjoy the Candy Shop, or for designer shopping there’s Heros, stocking brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Armani.

Place des Héros, as well as the Grand Place, also host a huge market 3 days a week. Past the fresh fruit and groceries you’ll find jewellery, antiques and local cheeses. The Christmas Market is held in the Grand Place each year and if you’re looking for some seasonal gifts, you’ll find them here. The setting, with the stalls and attractions nestled inside a square of step-gabled Flemish architecture, is beautiful enough to endear, even if you’ve got all your shopping done.

 

Bruges

Although technically not in France, Bruges is only an hour from our Dunkirk port, making for a lovely festive daytrip.

Due to its quaint size, Bruges offers more independent stores than high street shops. However, if you’re looking for quirky presents, then Bruges is perfect for you. There’s a number of exquisite art galleries, so if you’re Christmas shopping for a culture buff you may find something here. Authentic Belgian chocolatiers go all out at Christmas, with beautiful festive designs and delicious flavours. There’s one on almost every street, and the windows are decorated so beautifully this time of year, you can’t miss them.

Of course, the Markt holds a beautiful Christmas market offering local and seasonal treats that you can enjoy while you shop, or, if you have the willpower, you can package up and bring home to your loved ones. Chocolates, cheeses, preserved meats and beer make up many of the gastronomical stalls, with plenty of other Yuletide treats on offer.

 

Calais & Dunkirk

Not just port towns, Calais and Dunkirk are also great for stopping off if you want to stock up on champagne, beer and wine for all those Christmas parties you have coming up.

The hypermarkets include Calais’s Auchan, Coeur de Vie and Cité Europe, as well as the Grande Synthe Shopping Centre and Centre Marine Shopping Centre in Dunkirk. There’s also the Calais Wine Superstore which is just 4 minutes from Calais’s port.

However, they aren’t restricted to just stocking alcohol. You’ll also be able to find your favourite retailers here. At Cité Europe in Calais there’s shops like Foot Locker, Mango and Sephora, and at Centre Marine shopping centre in Dunkirk the list of brands include Kiko, Flying Tiger and Armand Thiery.

There’s Christmas markets in both Calais and Dunkirk, too. This year Calais’s Christmas market is not only a range of beautiful stalls with trinkets that make for eccentric stocking-fillers, but there is also an ice sculpture and fire show on 2 December, and the Christmas Parade on 3 December. Dunkirk Christmas market is also more than just wooden chalets, as stilt walkers, carriage rides, laser shows and more provide fantastic entertainment.

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