Christmas shopping in France

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A guide to Christmas shopping and Christmas markets in France - 2017  - Paris, Strasbourg and other cities
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Christmas shopping & Christmas markets in France 2017

Christmas Martket Christmas shopping in France      
 For anyone looking for a good reason to travel to France, a Christmas shopping trip can provide the ideal excuse. Paris and other French cities are places that go to great lengths to make sure that the Christmas shopping experience is something to be remembered - a gala of lights, sounds and old seasonal traditions. And with the Euro currently competitive against other currencies including the dollar, the pound and the Swiss franc, there are plenty of bargains to be had.    As is the practice throughout Europe, retail prices displayed always include  tax; i.e. French sales tax does not have to be added to the price displayed.


Christmas market in Paris Christmas market stall in Paris       
   In Paris, the most popular Christmas lights are those decorating the Champs Elysées; but they are just the icing on the cake. The streets and the big shops in all the shopping areas, notably the department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, in the Boulevard Haussmann area, vie with each other to produce the most elaborate Christmas decorations and Christmas windows.
   Big stores and stores selling up-market French luxury goods such as fashionwear or perfume and cosmetics can be guaranteed to put on particularly lavish and impressive window displays ; however bargain hunters should not expect to find a lot of really good buys, as winter sales in France cannot start before the first week of January.

Christmas markets in Paris 2017

    The French capital offers a number of "traditional" Christmas markets - Les Marchés de Noël - offering a wide array of art and craft products, as well as local specialities and special gastronomic delights for the Christmas dinner table.
The main Christmas markets in Paris are located at....
  • Champs Elysées : For security reasons, the Paris city hall has decided to cancel  Christmas village on the Champs Elysées as from 2017. However there is speculation that the historic organiser intends to go ahead as originally planned.

Other Paris Christmas markets

  • Saint Germain des Prés (Latin quarter) Santa's village, from mid November 2017 until early January 2018)  Metro Saint Germain des Prés
  • Notre Dame cathedral. This small market, specialising in arts and crafts, has about 40 stalls. It takes place on the piazza in front of the Cathedral, a unique setting, and runs from  15th December until Christmas Eve
  • Eiffel Tower (6th Arrondissement ) mid December 2017 to early January 2018 - a European Christmas village on the Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.  Over 100 stalls from different parts of Europe. 
  • Montmartre (Place des Abbesses) - Late November - 1st Jan 2018.
  • Other locations in Paris with Christmas markets include Montparnasse, the Gare de l'Est (an Alsace-themed market) , the Gare Saint-Lazare, and the Place de la Nation .
     Click here for  Paris good value hotel guide - a choice of Paris hotels offering best value for money.

Christmas in Strasbourg  

Strasbourg Christmas Martket Christmas market in Strasbourg - Photo © CRTA / Meyer      
   The Capital of Alsace, in eastern France, is reputed to be the home of Christmas festivities; and the annual Christkindelsmärik, or Christ-child- market, held around the ancient cathedral in the heart of the historic quarter, is the most famous Christmas market in France, if not in Europe. It was first held in 1570. Today the event draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, who come to wander through the narrow streets, and admire and buy from the hundreds of stalls offering traditional Christmas wares, craft products, and gifts of all shapes and sizes.
    The Strasbourg Christmas Market 2016 runs from 24th November to 24th December 2017 - though parts such as the Craftsmen's village finish on Christmas Eve. Strasbourg can be reached by motorway or by train. Click here for Strasbourg city and hotel guide.   
     There are many more Christmas markets in Alsace, notably in Colmar (24th November - 30th December 2017) , in Hagenau (24th November 2017 - 6th January 2018) and in some of the picturesque small towns such as Riquewihr.

   All French cities pull out the stops for Christmas, specially those with historic centres, where the Christmas lights traditionally bring in large numbers of shoppers and admirers. The tradition of Christmas Markets has been taken up in many French cities, notably in Eastern France, in towns such as Besançon, Montbéliard, Colmar (25th November - 30th December 2016)  and Nancy, which hold big events. But there are also big Christmas markets, open for at least three weeks up to Christmas, in Clermont Ferrand, Bordeaux, Lille (late  November - late December 2017), Metz, Arras and elsewhere; other towns and cities put on smaller, shorter Christmas markets.

christmas shopping in France

Shop opening times in France before Christmas

   In city centres, the pre-Christmas period is the busiest time of year for shopping in France; many shops extend their opening hours, notably by staying open at lunchtime, and - during the last three weekends before Christmas, opening on Sunday afternoon. Sunday opening is particularly common in towns and cities that have Christmas markets. Generally speaking, all shops that do a brisk trade in the runup to Christmas stay open until at least 7 p.m.
   Out of town supermarkets and shopping centres tend to remain open slightly longer in the period before Christmas, and in particular are open on Sundays (typically from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m - but it is always important to check locally).
   In Calais, the Carrefour supermarket in the Cité de l'Europe near the Channel tunnel exit is open 8.30 a.m. to 10 p.m six days a week, and 9 a.m to 8 p.m on Sundays during the pre-Christmas period; there are special Christmas events in Calais, including a Christmas market.

Click for general information on shop opening times in France

French wine for Christmas;
get the best buys, check out the About-France.com guide to buying French wine


French school Christmas holiday periods 2017-2018

Christmas holidays From  Saturday 23rd December 2017
to Sunday 7th January 2018 

Click here for other French school holiday dates. 

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Above left:  Christmas in old Strasbourg
© CRTA / Meyer
Above right: Paris, the Champ Elysées at Christmas
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