The festive season is a time of celebration, family time and one we all love, given the opportunity to be together is excellent, but spending it together in a picture-perfect town in France is fantastic!
France is a country known for many things, style, cuisine and culture, but not many realize that the French are very traditional and the holiday season offers an opportunity to honor those traditions that have been passed down through the generations.
So take this opportunity to join in, embrace the holiday season and live like a local. In France, the celebrations last for at least 8 days from the 24th December to the 1st of January, so make sure you give yourself enough time to soak up the full experience.
We’ve assembled a list of French towns that celebrate the festive season uniquely and stylishly so start planning now and make the most of what France has to offer.
Fête des Lumières – Lyon
Lyon hosts one of the world’s most prominent dazzling light festivals – Fête des Lumières. The festival takes place for three days, from 8th to 10th of December, and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
The tradition started in 1852 as locals put tiny candles in their windows and on the balconies of their houses to attract as much good luck as possible during the festive season, the Fête des Lumières is a contemporary version of the tradition.
Enjoy The Festive Market In Lyon
The market is held every day from 24th November until the 24th December at Croix-Rousse, in the heart of Lyon. The market is a typical festive alpine village style, creating a cozy atmosphere with 140 rustic wooden chalets, these chalets are packed with beautiful items to buy, and the smell of delicious food and drink fills the air.
Seasonal food is essential in France; life revolves around food, you can buy all the traditional and regional food associated with the season at the market. Try out the salted and cured meats, smoked cheeses, praline cakes, gingerbread cookies, macaroons, and deliciously roasted caramelized nuts.
Take advantage of the shopping opportunities, handmade jewellery, clothes and accessories are available to buy along with clay figurines and toys, decorations, and of course candles. Every market encourages children to join in the storytelling and festivities, there is always a traditional carousel, and often donkeys and sheep are brought into town as a symbol of new life.
If you love myths and enchanting tales, then Carcassonne is the perfect place to visit during the holidays. From the 6th December to the 4th January each year, this ancient hilltop town comes alive.
Carcassonne is a 12th-century walled town built around a castle, the people who live there take the festive season very seriously. All the celebrations taking place in the castle and the old town center of Bastide Saint Louis, boasting an open-air bazaar filled with traditional stalls selling everything and anything you may need to make your holiday complete.
Carcassonne is well known for concerts and street performances; celebrate the season the way they did in the middle ages. The castle is the backdrop for mingling with the locals who are dressed in medieval clothes, many on horseback carry candles on their way to a medieval midnight feast, everyone is welcome.
The circus has long been a festive tradition along with the giant Ferris wheel, lit up for full effect at night. The Ferris wheel is center stage in the market and from the top of Ferris wheel is a breathtaking 360-degree view of the town and surrounding area, everywhere you look you are greeted by twinkling lights and the sound of merriment.
Children love an ice rink, and Carcassonne has one of the best temporary rinks in Occitanie, beautifully lit and surrounded with stalls selling delicious food and drink. Don’t expect to go home early. The French love to celebrate long into the night, children have no set bedtime, and this creates an atmosphere of great excitement all round.
Reims – Champagne
Why not visit Reims in the Champagne region of France, Reims has a UNESCO listed cathedral. Reims Cathedral and the Palace of Tau courtyard come alive in December, the festive market and celebrations start on the 8th December and finish with a grand finale on the 24th December.
Reims is in the epicenter of Champagne country, the production of Champagne is significant in this region and celebrated all year round, but particularly in the mid-winter season when all the hard work has been done. The holidays are a time for celebration, it’s time to relax with friends and family and a glass of Champagne, of course!
A great seasonal tradition in all of France is to keep a log soaked in wine burning in the fireplace through the 8 days of the season, day and night. Burning this log brings good luck to anyone who visits, and if this is true I will drink to that!