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Interesting festivals/markets early Dec in France

So, I am slowly working on convincing hubby to go over to UK/France as our Xmas gift this year (since he is not a fan of Christmas). I would be looking at going probably the first few weeks of Dec (hopefully after the US Thanksgiving but before the middle of the month when travel starts getting crazy). I would have about 12-13 nights to work with. Initial idea was London/Portsmouth (my sis is there and I see her so rarely - unless I could convince her to come to London)/Paris (would be 3rd visit)/Strasbourg/Lyon. I had read Strasbourg has one of the oldest Xmas markets in France, and Lyon has a Lumiere festival in Dec where the buildings are all lit up. I am just wondering if anyone has any other suggestions of festivals or markets within the Paris/Stras/Lyon triangle.
My tentative itinerary looks something like:

arrive London morning (we fly from Halifax thru the night, arriving usually around 9am, jet lag not too big a problem) and head for Portsmouth (2 nights)

back to London and Eurostar over to Paris (3 nights - we've seen the 'major' sites in Paris, so this would be unrushed)

train to either Strasbourg or Lyon first (would depend on when we left and when the Lumiere festival was on if we decided to do this). We'd spend 2 nights Strasbourg (have been here once before for a very quick visit) and 3 nights in Lyon

Then back to London for 2 nights and home. (I'd rather return to London to fly home - I'd rather do a direct flight home then have to spend time flying over Nova Scotia to Toronto or Montreal and waiting at the airport for a connection...I'd rather not chance connections on weather)

So what I'm wondering if within the first few weeks of Dec, if there are other things more interesting in France then the Lumiere festival in Lyon? Other Christmas markets not to miss? Maybe go to Chartres instead of Lyon? Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences?

Posted by
3696 posts

I spent some time in Paris before Xmas a few years ago and the market was fun. Not the 'traditional Xmas market' as we think of it, but the Parisian version and it was interesting... lots of shopping, food, etc. with the Parisian flair. Paris was actually not decorated as much as I thought it would be, but it was still beautiful...after all, it doesn't need much decoration.

Posted by
1437 posts

Hi Nicole,

I was in London December 1-7, just this past year - it was fantastic!! The lights and decorations were over-the-top! We traveled to Bath one day by train and really liked the outdoor Christmas market there. Although I had been to London 3 times before, we just fell in love with London all over again, with the whole Christmas vibe going on there.

If I were to plan a trip like yours, I would suggest to keep to the very best "Christmas" vibe going:

Portsmouth - Paris - Strasbourg - back to London.

Maybe consider Stuttgart from Strasbourg, if you want more, with a cheap flight back to London.

I found these links useful when planning our December trip:

http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/stuttgart_christmas_market.php
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/to-the-west/december-markets-salzburg-stuttgart-esslingen-and-strasbourg

Edited to add: I strongly discourage booking the Hotel Kleber in Strasbourg. Less than 2 months before our departure, they cancelled our reservation, with no explanation given. I had booked directly with them. It was too late by then to make a booking elsewhere that would not have cost us a fortune. We ended up entirely scrapping the Strasbourg/Stuttgart part of the trip.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you Diane for posting the tip about hotel Le Kleber. I booked them the other day for 5 nights. I will start hunting for another hotel.

Posted by
14399 posts

The Christmas markets in Strasbourg and Colmar will be in full swing by early December. Colmar's markets are not to be missed. I'd stay there rather than Strasbourg.