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The Arras Christmas Market has become one of the most important festive events in northern France. The event welcomed a record one million visitors in recent years. It occupies the remarkable Grand’Place with street lights and illuminations, animations for children, and concerts. This is an excellent opportunity to visit Arras and visit the main sights of this part of the Hauts-de-France region (formerly Nord-Pas-de-Calais).

 

Arras Christmas Market or “Ville de Noël”

In 2021, Arras created the concept of “Ville de Noël” (Christmas Town), which allowed chalets and animations to be spread throughout the town centre.

Arras Christmas market © Marc Ryckaert - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Arras Christmas market © Marc Ryckaert – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

In 2022, Christmas in Arras continues the concept and includes around one hundred chalets, almost twice as many as in 2021.

To respect the logic of an open city, these are scattered over several squares in the city centre:

  • around 70 chalets on the Grand’Place
  • about 30 on the Place des Héros where the giant tree will also be located,
  • four chalets on Place d’Ipswich and,
  • five chalets on the Place du Théâtre (for the first time)

The Arras Christmas market in Grand Place is open from 25 November to 30 December 2022. (closed on Christmas Day).

 

Arras Christmas Market in Grand’Place

Of course, the focal point of the Christmas festivities in Arras is the Grand’Place.

Arras Christmas Market © Guillaume R
Arras Christmas Market © Guillaume R

 

The Arras Christmas market takes place in the Grand’Place, a beautiful Baroque square in the heart of town. The “Ville de Noël” comprises approximately 70 chalets.

Some of the chalets of the market are dedicated to traditional crafts such as ornaments, decorative items, Advent wreaths and gift ideas for Christmas.

On the square are also an ice-skating rink, a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, and other gourmet food stalls.

Arras Christmas market © Arras OT
Arras Christmas market © Arras OT
Arras Christmas market © Arras OT
Arras Christmas market © Arras OT
Arras Christmas © Guillaume Baviere - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Fireworks in Arras © Guillaume Baviere – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

 

Place des Héros at Christmas

The historical square of Place des Héros welcomes some 30 chalets. The belfry dominates this beautiful Christmas setting, particularly at night time.

Arras Christmas © Nezdek - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Arras at Christmas – Place des Héros © Nezdek – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Belfry

The Belfry is the highest building in Arras, at 75 metres high. This magnificent work of flamboyant Gothic style dates from 1554.
Since 2005, Unesco has listed the Belfry of Arras as a world heritage site, part of the belfries of Belgium and France.

Arras Belfry © Marc Ryckaert - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Arras Belfry © Marc Ryckaert – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Each year, on the 6th of December, Saint Nicolas climbs down the belfry and gives away sweets to the children in the Town Hall. This is one of the only places in France where Saint Nicolas abseils from the top of a bell tower.

Arras Belfry © Marc Ryckaert - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Arras Belfry © Marc Ryckaert – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

 

The streets of Arras at Christmas

A stroll in the surrounding shopping streets at night time is a treat for the eyes. Most historical monuments and buildings are lit up with great care during  Advent.

Street lights in Arras © Edith DuBois
Street lights in Arras © Edith DuBois

 

About Arras

Arras is famous for its two grand arcaded Flemish-style squares: Grand’Place and Place des Héros, which, with Rue de la Taillerie, form a monumental architectural ensemble unique in Europe.

The squares have a historic and harmonious character, surrounded by restored 17th and 18th-century baroque houses with curved rooflines.

The two squares were initially built to host markets which reflected the prosperous trading economy of Arras. In the 17th century, the municipal magistrates decided to redesign the two squares and the Rue de la Taillerie by constructing more harmonious buildings.

Arras by night © Regardphoto - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Arras by night © Regardphoto – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The smallest square, Place des Héros (aka Petite Place), has some stunning monuments: the Town Hall (1502) and the Flamboyant 77-metre-high belfry (1463-1554).

Find out more about Arras.

 

English-French Vocabulary

Square in Arras at Christmas © Edith DuBois
Arras at Christmas © Edith DuBois

 

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • Advent = Avent (m)
  • Christmas = Noël
  • Christmas Eve = veille de Noël (f) / réveillon (m)
  • Christmas lighting = illuminations de Noël (f,p)
  • Christmas market = marché de Noël (m)
  • Christmas Tree = sapin de Noël (m), arbre de Noël (m)
  • church = église (f)
  • Father Christmas = Père Noël (m)
  • Flemish = flamand(e)
  • holiday season = période de Noël (f), temps des fêtes (m)
  • ice-skating rink = patinoire (f)
  • mulled wine = vin chaud (m)
  • Santa = Père Noël (m)
  • square = place (f)
  • street = rue (f)

 

French Moments would like to thank the Tourist Office of Arras and Edith DuBois for allowing us to share their photos on this page.

 

Find out more!

Featured image: Arras Christmas Market © Philippe Rouzet – licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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