Let’s start the season of Advent with a list of our 10 most beautiful Christmas markets in France’s North-East, all situated in the Alsace, Franche-Comté and Lorraine regions. Christmas markets are called “Marchés de Noël” in French and are organised in the historic town or village centre. Although they are a traditional event in Alsace, many of these French Christmas markets have been “exported” to other parts of the country, from Lille to Rouen and Bordeaux.
The 10 Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in France
Making a list of the top 10 French Xmas markets is a suggestive task.
For me what makes the best Christmas towns in the country is not only about the size or the number of stalls found in Xmas markets in France.
It’s more about the atmosphere, the traditions that are maintained and cherished, and the quality of the local produce and Christmas items sold.
And for this, there is one region in particular that perpetuates the traditions of a good Christmas market: the North-East of France.
Christmas in Alsace is very special. You may wonder whether it is best to visit Colmar of Strasbourg Christmas market?
Well, do both if you can. Even more the Christmas markets in Alsace are not limited to these two large events.
This list will let you know about other places worth discovering in Alsace at Christmas: Kaysersberg, Riquewihr, Eguisheim and more. If two Christmas towns are found outside Alsace (Metz and Montbéliard) they are all situated not far from the German border (and from Alsace!). It does help for making Christmas beautiful and joyful! Merry Christmas to all!
1. Strasbourg, Alsace
The largest French Christmas market is found in Strasbourg. Of all the Alsace Christmas markets, the one in Strasbourg is by far the oldest as it dates back to the 16th century. The 300 chalets of the market are found in several Christmas villages organised throughout the old town.
- Read more about Strasbourg Christmas Market.
- Check out the Strasbourg Christmas Market official page [in English]
2. Colmar, Alsace
One of my best French Christmas Markets is that of Colmar. This is Alsace’s second most visited Christmas market which enhances the rich medieval and Renaissance architecture of the old town and the picturesque Little Venice district.
- Read more about Colmar Christmas Market.
- Check out the Colmar Christmas Market official page [in English]
3. Montbéliard, Franche-Comté
The industrial town, formerly part of the Wurttemberg Duchy revives the German tradition of Christmas markets every year in its town centre. One of France’s most popular markets, it should be notes for the quality of its illuminations and decorations.
- Read more about Montbéliard Christmas Market.
- Check out the Montbéliard Christmas Market official page [in English]
4. Mulhouse, Alsace
Set in the Place de la Réunion, between the Gothic façade of the Protestant Temple St. Etienne and the beautiful painted façade of the old Town-Hall, the Christmas market is a magical place earning each year a reputation for excellence. The Ferris Wheel adds to the festive atmosphere of the place. The name given to the French Christmas market is “Les Étofféeries”. Mulhouse is one of my favourite Alsace Christmas Markets.
- Read more about Mulhouse Christmas Market.
- Check out the Mulhouse Christmas Market official page [in French only]
5. Kaysersberg, Alsace
Ten kilometres from Colmar, nestled between the foothills of the Vosges and the vineyards, the little medieval town of Kaysersberg hosts one of the most authentic Christmas markets in France. With quality items and local produce from craftsmen carefully selected, Kaysersberg’s market should not be missed!
- Read more about Kaysersberg Christmas Market.
- Check out the Kaysersberg Christmas Market official page [in English]
6. Metz, Lorraine
Some say that Metz is France’s second most visited Christmas market after that of Strasbourg. From the railway square to the Cathedral, the celebrations of Christmas are alive and well in Metz. A market only 1.30 hours from Paris by TGV!
- Read more about Metz Christmas Market.
- Check out the Metz Christmas Market official page [in French only]
7. Riquewihr, Alsace
The historic village of Riquewihr is the perfect setting for a great experience of Christmas in France. Many visitors hold it as their best Christmas Market in France. Walk down the main street from the Dolder gate to the Town-Hall to discover many half-timbered houses beautifully lit up and decorated for Christmas.
- Read more about Riquewihr Christmas Market.
- Check out the Riquewihr Christmas Market official page [in French only]
8. Obernai, Alsace
Mulled wine, chocolate, gingerbread, kugelhopfs… Obernai will certainly please those of you looking for a nice Christmas market in France! The stalls of the local Christmas market, not far from Strasbourg and Colmar, are perfectly set by the fortified walls of the charming old town.
- Read more about the Obernai Christmas Market.
- Check out the Obernai Christmas Market official page [English]
9. Sélestat, Alsace
Most Beautiful Christmas Markets: Sélestat © Thomas Kempf
Sélestat is the place where the first mention of a fir-tree decorated was made on 21 December 1521. It makes no surprise that the local Christmas market pays tribute to the Christmas tree. Sélestat is easily accessible from Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse by TER (regional trains).
- Read more about Sélestat Christmas Market.
- Check out the Sélestat Christmas Market official page [English]
10. Éguisheim, Alsace
In 2013, Éguisheim was elected France’s most beautiful village in a TV programme on France 2. No doubt that the Christmas season can only bring the best to this jewel of the Alsatian vineyards. Although quite small in size compared to the cities of Alsace, Eguisheim hosts one of the best Christmas markets in France!
- Read more about Éguisheim Christmas Market.
- Check out the Eguisheim Christmas Market official page [English]
There are so many other Christmas markets in the North-East that it would do them justice to mention them:
Close to Alsace, Germany and Switzerland host some of the world top-class Christmas markets: Basel, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Heidelberg and Mainz.
Let us know about your favourite French and European Christmas markets and leave a comment below!
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