A Taste of Christmas in France
Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd & Brian Callender
The old adage that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year certainly rings true in our hearts. Maybe it’s the cooler weather that comes with the winter season, or the festive lights strung across homes, or just the feeling and memory that the holiday invokes in us. No matter how you spin it, Julie and I eagerly look forward to the calendar flipping to December.
Last year, we decided to try something a little different and spend our Christmas vacation across two weeks in Europe. We had heard countless stories, and seen endless photos, on social media of the Christmas markets that the continent is famous for, and thought we must experience it for ourselves. For a brief taste of Christmas in France, we visited two distinctly different Christmas markets in Paris and Colmar.
After spending a week in London and viewing the city lit up for Christmas, we were eager to see how things compared in the City of Light. We had the opportunity to walk through two busy Christmas markets in Paris during our time in the city: Village de Noël des Champs Élysées and the Champ de Mars Christmas Market.
The market at the Champs Élysées is the largest in Paris (closed for 2017, back in 2018) and lines both side of the iconic street. Due to an attack in Germany the week prior, there was a sizable police presence while we walked through the market. Despite this though, we never felt as though we were in an unsafe situation as we perused the food, drink, and gift options.
While we looked for small gifts to bring home to family, we were mostly excited to eat our way through the market.
Come here hungry because you will want to eat some of everything as we did on our visit.
We walked through the market at the Champs de Mars, near the Eiffel Tower one evening. The heavy crowds made it challenging to navigate the different chalets and items for sale, and we decided to view it in passing.
Overall, we enjoyed the Parisian Christmas markets, but felt they were a bit too big and didn’t give us the fairytale feeling we had imagined in our heads.
Colmar, a town on the border of France and Germany, dates back to the 13th century and mixes both cultures effectively. The highlight of this destination is the Old Town, which is the quintessential, quaint European village of our dreams. Seriously, it’s hard to imagine a place more ripped from the pages of a Disney movie than Colmar.
We couldn’t wait to walk through town and browse the city’s five Christmas markets.
There was no shortage of handmade crafts, particularly ornaments of all shapes and sizes.
It was easy to get lost in all of the holiday goodness and we probably visited each of the streets multiple times.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Christmas market without partaking in delicious food and drink.
Despite the small size of old town, we spent several hours enjoying the festivities and exploring the Christmas decorations.
As the afternoon sun began to set, we reluctantly made our way back to the train station and headed out of town. The experience of visiting the Christmas markets in Colmar was everything we could have imagined, and it stoked our desire to come back to Europe for the holiday season in the future.
Have you been to any Christmas markets in France? Are they on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments!