Many people might wonder, why visit Paris in the ‘off season’ (November – January)… when really there is so much that Paris has to offer during this time! Yes it can be a wee bit chilly some days, but the lines are infinitely quieter for all the major tourist attractions. Not only that, but if you manage to come during December, Paris really puts on a gorgeous show – the streets are decorated with Christmas lights, decorated pine trees are on every corner….and the best part? Christmas markets!
In French they are called the ‘Marches de Noel’ (everything sounds prettier in French, doesn’t it?) and you would be hard pressed to not encounter one during your stay in Paris over the Christmas season.
So what does the Marche de Noel have to offer? Well it really depends on which one you go to, but expect some gorgeous Christmas decorations, gift ideas, chocolates and sweets. The best bit? A crazily delicious array of decadent dishes to sample! Everything from French onion soup, saucisson (dried sausage) and tartiflette (a heavy cream-laden dish with potatoes and ham) to the sweeter varieties of churros, macaroons and cloche du noel (chocolate covered marshmallows in the shape of Christmas bells!). Whilst I am sure you may have tried churros in your home country, surely they taste better if they are nibbled whilst watching the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, oui?
If you get a chance to visit Paris in this season, below are my all time favourite Marche du Noel locations – including the one right by Notre Dame!
- Square Rene Viviani Montebello : (Pictured above) Whilst visiting this square on our ‘Paris along the Seine tour’, I was pleasantly surprised to find this market pop up overnight! Oozing in Parisian cuteness, this market of only around 20 stalls has many true artisans here selling their wares. Not to mention, it is directly opposite the road from the Notre Dame (what a perfect background for a picture!). Here you can find handmade clothes, children’s toys, and sample some local produce like olive tapenade and honey. No hot food here, but that’s made up for by the vin chaud on offer. Vin chaud is a delicious hot red wine laden with spices, a perfect way to warm the heart and those chilly fingers. Definitely worth having a cup (or two) on a crisp December day!
- Champs Elysees : one of the bigger markets, this stretches from Place de la Concorde down to the metro Franklin D. Roosevelt. Expect it to be busy, but bustling with Christmas cheer!
- St-Germain-des-Pres : a smaller market, whilst they have similar offerings to the Champs Elysees, they tend to be a little quieter here!Metro: St Germain des Pres
- La Defense : the biggest in Paris, and one of the biggest in France, there are over 350 stalls offering a huge variety here. It’s a little out ofthe centre of Paris (20 minutes by metro from the centre of town), but if you are a die hard Christmas market fan (like I am!) you may want to move in here 🙂 metro: La Defense
This article was written by our wonderful Australian guide, Louise. Read more about her!
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