There’s nowhere quite as magical as France at Christmas time. In December the most beautiful Christmas lights will make your French holidays even more magical! Scroll down and warm your spirits with this series of the best photos of Christmas in France. Joyeux Noël!
The best photos of Christmas in France
During the holiday season, you’ll spot Christmas lights and trees in every cities and towns in France. You’ll also find charming Christmas markets taking centre-stage in historic districts.
From the end of November, the cities of France transform into a magical wonderland with all the Christmas lights.
The most Instagrammable places of Christmas in France ?
Photos taken in some cities appear most often on Instagram (for example: Paris, Strasbourg, Colmar). People enjoy shooting photos of the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night or of the animated window displays of Galeries Lafayette or Printemps. Without forgetting the extremely popular Champs-Elysées, adorned with dazzling Christmas lights.
This selection of photos will give you an idea of the Winter Wonderland that we’ve experienced while travelling in Paris and Eastern France.
Paris, the City of Light
This is a photo that cannot be shot today… as the Ferris wheel of Place de la Concorde is no more! I particularly like this picture for it shows two of Paris’ main attractions at Christmas time: the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées.
The next picture is a hommage to Notre-Dame cathedral. It was partly destroyed by a fire in April 2019 and won’t be restored for many years. This photo was taken a few years ago with a Christmas tree offered by Russia.
Paris’ great perspective are best shot at night time. Here’s the view from the Madeleine church with Rue Royale leading to Place de la Concorde and Palais Bourbon (the seat of the French National Assembly). The golden dome in the distance is that of Les Invalides. Inside is the tomb of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
Back to the Champs-Elysées when the Christmas market was still on (it was banned in 2018). I love the vintage-look of the métro sign:
The Christmas atmosphere in Montmartre is quite surprising after night fall. I found the streets deserted past 6 or 7pm on a weekday in December. This makes a ‘under-the-radar’ neighbourhood to rediscover in December – particularly the charming square of Place du Tertre:
Paris under the snow!!
I’ve never seen snow in Paris. Well, to be more accurate, I’ve never seen the snow COVERING Paris. It did snow overnight when we resided in Paris… but by the time I reached the Eiffel Tower, it had all melted (and left an unpleasant muddy layer!). The best I’ve come with is that fake-snow-covered-Christmas-tree!
It’s better to wait for the night to fall… the blue hour is often spectacular on a winter Paris day. My favourite spot is to stroll near the Pont Alexandre III:
? Read more about Christmas in Paris.
Nancy and its magnificent royal square
Nancy, the former capital of the Dukes of Lorraine offers a magnificent background at Christmas time.
The Unesco-listed royal square of Place Stanislas is adorned with a tall twinkling Christmas tree:
The Saint-Nicolas Village is a recent addition to the festive celebrations:
The neo-classical setting of Nancy will give your photos of Christmas in France an elegant touch!
Metz and its enchanting Christmas market
60 kms north of Nancy is another historic city bathed by the Moselle River: Metz. The beautiful town hosts one of France’s largest Christmas markets after Strasbourg and Paris with five different locations. You can admire the lofty Gothic cathedral aboard the Ferris wheel, explore the old town and discover the Pompidou Centre-Metz.
A photo taken while strolling on the medieval square of Place Saint-Louis:
The cathedral seen from Place de la Comédie:
The great Ferris Wheel on Place d’Armes:
Strasbourg, the capital of Christmas
Have you heard of Strasbourg? You’ve probably know that this historic city by the Rhine is:
- the capital of the historic province of Alsace
- the capital of the Grand-Est region
- one of the four capitals of Europe along Brussels, Luxembourg and Frankfurt!
- But most importantly, the Capital of Christmas!
Strasbourg hosts the largest of all Christmas markets in France… and one the oldest in Europe.
Check out the giant Christmas tree on Place Kléber (yes, a real fir tree that is cut in November in the Vosges mountains):
The entrance to Strasbourg’s oldest Christmas market on place Broglie. It has been known since 1570 as the “Christkindelmärik” (literally the market of Infant Jesus”):
The view of rue Mercière dominated by the Gothic cathedral is breathtaking:
The Petite-France district also hosts a Christmas market in an enchanting setting made up of Renaissance half-timbered houses:
Alsace, the land of Christmas
Legends has it that the Christmas tree first appeared in Alsace in 1521. The French called it “sapin de noël” or “arbre de noël”. It has become an iconic figure of Christmas, first in the Germanic world then in France and England during the 19th century.
? Read more about the French traditions of Christmas tree and Christmas decoration.
The proximity of the region to Germany has something to do with the strong Christmas spirit found in Alsace.
A Christmas tour of Alsace!
I was lucky enough to have toured the whole region of Alsace, from north to south… there’s so much to see that I had to limit the photos posted below (otherwise there would be hundreds of them ?).
In the Bas-Rhin département:
I loved Wissembourg for its authentic Christmas atmosphere:
Haguenau has a great Christmas market too:
Obernai focuses on a gastronomic holiday market in the beautiful setting of its market square. ? Read more
Sélestat is the birthplace of the Christmas tree… the town’s registry contains the oldest mention of a decorated tree for Christmas. ? Read more
In the Haut-Rhin département:
Riquewihr is one of France’s most beautiful villages. Unsurprisingly the streets are amazingly decorated for Christmas:
Since the 1980s, Kaysersberg has host an authentic Christmas market. The photogenic old streets make some of the best photos of Christmas in France you can take! ? Read more
Colmar boasts a rich architectural and cultural heritage brilliantly enhanced with a festive (and vintage) Christmas light display. ? Read more
The wine-growing village of Eguisheim organised a rather small yet charming Christmas market. ? Read more
The city of Mulhouse hosts one of Alsace’s most beautiful Christmas market in the Place de la Réunion. ? Read more
Set at the foot of the Vosges mountains is Thann, reputed for its elegant Gothic collegiate church. The Christmas market is themed on the fir trees that abounds in the neighbouring mountains:
To the south of Alsace, the little town of Altkirch enacts the legends and tales of the Sundgau region in the Enchanted Forest:
Montbéliard celebrates the Christmas Lights
Montbéliard was once the seat of a principality held by the House of Württemberg from 1444 to 1793 when it was annexed to France.
From this era the town has kept France’s oldest Protestant church. Each year in December the Christmas market surrounds the sanctuary with a rich Christmas lights display.
Annecy, the Little Venice of the Alps
We’d never missed visiting the Christmas market of Annecy when we lived in the Alps. The setting is enchanting! At the foot of the medieval castle, along the canals. A turquoise lake surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks. What can you ask for better photos of Christmas in France?
By the lake in December:
Want to read this in French? Check out our article on the French traditions of Christmas on our French blog!
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