The France Christmas markets are an incredible holiday tradition. The tips below will help you to have an amazing experience at the markets.
While the tips below generally apply to all European Christmas markets, they specifically relate to the markets in the Alsace region of France.
This region has been hosting Christmas markets since the 16th Century, with some of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe.
With the tips below, you’ll have a fantastic experience at the France Christmas markets!
- 3 Magical Christmas Markets in France That You Will Love
- 6 Best Things You Need to Eat at French Christmas Markets
- France Christmas Market Packing Guide: What You Need to Pack
Decide which Christmas markets to visit
France has many wonderful Christmas markets. But they’re spread out enough that you can’t visit them all in one trip.
For your first trip to the France Christmas markets, I recommend heading to the Alsace region of France. It’s located along the German border and has both French and German influences.
Some of the best Christmas markets in this region include those in Strasbourg, Colmar, and Riquewihr.
You can read more about these magical Christmas markets here.
Confirm opening days
After you’ve decided which Christmas markets to visit, check to see when the Christmas markets will be open.
Although most France Christmas markets are open the majority of December, the exact days can differ from market to market.
Just make sure that the markets you want to visit are all open the days you plan to visit France.
Book your accommodations far in advance
The Christmas markets in France are extremely popular. Book your accommodations far in advance to ensure you have a great place to stay.
When booking your accommodations, keep in mind that this is one of the most expensive times of the year to visit France. Hotel rates will likely be higher during the Christmas market season.
Some great hotel options in the Alsace region include:
Book transportation far in advance
Just like your accommodations, you should book your transportation far in advance of the Christmas markets.
If you want to avoid driving in France, trains and buses are very good options to get from town to town. I’ll often search for “how to get from town X to town Y without a car”. These searches generally provide great advice on the best way to get from place to place using public transportation.
If you plan on booking a rental car, make sure to specify if you need automatic steering. Since many cars in Europe having manual steering, you may end up with manual steering if you don’t specify in advance.
Note that parking is extremely limited in some towns. If you’re driving, you’ll need to arrive at your location fairly early in the morning to ensure a parking spot.
Dress for comfort and warmth
The France Christmas markets are mostly outdoors, so plan on spending the majority of your day outside.
France has relatively mild winters, but the humidity can make it seem colder than the actual temperature.
Plan on wearing comfortable walking shoes and plenty of layers. An umbrella is also necessary for cover from the chilly winter rain.
For more tips on what to pack for the France Christmas markets, check out this article.
Arrive with cash in hand
Do you know the longest line at the Christmas markets? The line for the ATM.
Many of the vendors at the France Christmas markets only accept cash, especially the food and drink vendors. And you do *not* want to miss out on the food and drink at the Christmas markets!
So rather than wait in line at the ATM, make sure you get cash before you enter the market. You can stop by a bank or a gas station to find an ATM.
Be prepared for crowds
Like most wonderful experiences, the France Christmas markets attract a big crowd.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with the crowds:
- There are fewer crowds first thing in the morning and later in the day.
- When the crowds are at their busiest, slip into a bistro to enjoy some wine and some bites to eat.
- Have a backup plan of where to meet the other members of your group when you inevitably get separated.
- Leave bulky backpacks at home or you’ll spend the day accidentally knocking into people.
Get the lay of the land
In many towns, the Christmas market is split into several smaller markets throughout the town.
When you first arrive at a Christmas market, the first thing you should do is get a map. The map will help you to see where all the different markets are located in the town.
You can then use the map to plan your course and make sure you see everything you want to see during the day.
Pro Tip: Have everyone in your group take a picture of the map on their phones. That way everyone has a copy of the map without having to carry around a paper copy.
Eat *all* the food
The France Christmas markets have some delicious food. In the Alsace region, you’ll find that much of this food has a German influence.
Currywurst, bretzel, and sauerkraut are just some of the amazing eats you’ll find. And you’ll need to wash it all down with some mulled wine!
Read this article for more amazing things to eat and drink at France Christmas markets.
Buy unique souvenirs
Looking to buy some fun souvenirs while in France? Here are some unique souvenirs you’ll find at the Christmas markets:
- Toy storks: Yes, you read that correctly. The stork is the symbol of Alsace. They’re considered a bearer of good fortune and fertility. You’ll find stuffed animals, snow globes, key chains, and many other items with the image of storks.
- Painted dishware: You’ll see some incredibly beautiful dishware throughout the Christmas markets. Leave some extra room in your luggage to bring some pieces home.
- Ornaments: What better place to buy ornaments than at a Christmas market?! I especially love all the gnome ornaments you can find at the Christmas markets in Alsace.
I hope these tips help you to have a wonderful time at the France Christmas markets. They are a wonderful holiday tradition!