Our Favourite Festive Experiences in France

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May 18, 2022

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France is of course wonderful all year round but the festive season is truly magical. Experience a feast for all the senses with our round up of where to see the best lights, decorations, markets and unique experiences.

Credit: F. Leguéré

Loire Valley: Christmas at the Chateaux

The Loire Valley offers visitors at Christmas a truly picturesque experience with it’s many Chateaus each being adorned with lights and decorations. The region also offers festive markets, light shows, concerts and other special events. Head to Château Royal de Blois for a tour by torchlight to discover it’s secrets or see the hunting hounds get fed their Christmas dinners at Château de Cheverny.

Christmas in Alsace

From the end of November, France’s Alsace region lights up in a mix of French and German festive culture. Enjoy a mulled wine, bredele or dampfnüdel at a local Christmas market. Our favourite markets are Le marché de Noël de Obernai for foodies and Le marché de Noël d’Eguisheim for the most authentic experience. The Humanist Library in Sélestat is home to the first written mention of the Christmas Tree so these are a prominent tradition in the squares of Alsace’s towns and villages including a 30m high tree in Strasbourg. The city of Mulhouse which was once the world capital of printed fabrics gives a nod to it’s history by dressing it’s building in ornate fabric for the occasion. Other Christmas traditions include concerts, themed tours, gingerbread decorating, torchlight walks and much more.

Vaux-le-Vicomte en Lumières

This year will see the 17th annual Vaux-le-Vicomte en Lumières returning on the 22nd October 2022. The Château, courtyards and gardens will be transformed into an elaborate spectacle with lights and decorations. Alongside this there are projections, cosy fires, festive scents and Baroque music.

Palace of Versailles

A must visit for any trip to Paris, the Palace of Versailles is even more spectacular at Christmas. Children can meet a Baroque Santa Claus and there are festive shows, concerts, dancers, singers, window displays, fencing and fireworks. The village of Versailles opens an ice rink and there are of course plenty of markets to explore.

Christmas in Normandy

Often over-looked in favour of Alsace, Normandy is not one to miss over the festive season. There is so much to do; Pacy-sur-Eure has a steam train where children can meet Santa Claus, the Haras du Pin national stud has a special horse-show, there is a Christmas rollercoaster in Le Havre, a live Nativity in Port-Bail and a parade in Rouen. There are also a range of traditional Christmas markets with mulled cider, fireworks, light shows, ice rinks and Big Wheels. Finish of your trip by joining the locals for a brisk but memorable New Year’s Day swim in the North Sea.

These festive experiences make the perfect add-ons to a winter trip to Paris. Send us an email to get started: [email protected]

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