You must have surely witnessed or heard about the unparalleled beauty of France when it’s all sunny out there, but have you ever imagined how the country of arts and romance spreads its charm in the month of December? Well, the Christmas fervor is on and all the places in the country are lit with lights and happiness. From enchanting Christmas village at the foot of the Eiffel Tower to soul-stirring ice-skating rinks built under the stars, there’s a lot to see and experience in France in December.
France offers many unique experiences that will strike your heart and become a part of the beautiful memories forever. Here are some of the best things to do in France in December that’ll surely make your holiday one of its kind.
Visit the Strasbourg Christmas market
This is the oldest “marché de Noël” in France, dating back to the 16th century. Set in the quaint, medieval old town, it has 300 stalls, making it one of the largest markets in Europe. The heart of the festivities is Place de la Cathédrale, in front of the gothic cathedral. Open until December 30th.
See the Festival of Light, Lyon
From December 7th to 10th, a variety of different artists will light up buildings, streets, squares and parks all over the city. The town has promised 50 installations in total, and has even launched a free app to go with the event.
Visit the Crib Figurine Fair – Foire aux Santons
The Provence region is famous for its “Santons”, hand-painted nativity scene figurines made out of terracotta. At the fair in Mouans-Sartoux, artists from all over France come together to showcase, and sell, their creations. If you fancy displaying a traditional “Provençal crèche” this Christmas you’ll find everything you need at the fair, from hundreds of accessories for the crib to books on the history and art of figurine making.
Indulge in ice skating
Whether you are with your partner or your family, ice skating is one thing that will bring you all closer to each other during your France holiday in December. Strap on a pair of skates and groove to the music! The country is home to many ice rinks where you can skate your heart out!
Spot the talent at Cannes Dance Festival
Witness the best of contemporary, classical, French, and more forms of dance at this world-famous Cannes Dance Festival which is held in the south of France in December. While visiting France in December, this is one experience you absolutely cannot afford to miss! You can expect a lot of up-and-coming talent, with organizers promising a focus on young dancers and choreographers.
See a Christmas concert in a church
Churches across France will be offering some spectacular Christmas shows this month.
For those in Paris, check out the one in the Saint Chapelle church that will feature the music of Bach, Purcell, Corelli, the Ave Maria and other traditional Christmas songs. If you’re in Paris, it’s also worth taking a look at Les Billettes Church in the Marais, or the traditional Christmas Concert at the gothic wonder, St. Severin.
Spend a half day at the Vaux le Vicomte chateau
Here’s one you may not have heard about. The chateau, about an hour outside of Paris, opens its doors for festive Christmas fun until January 7th. The Paris tourism bureau promises an “incredible atmosphere created especially for the occasion” of Christmas. The chateau, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, is decorated specially for the Christmas celebrations. Find out more here.
Visit Transmusicales, Rennes
The Transmusicales festival has been around for over three decades now, and has a reputation for discovering future chart-toppers. Portishead, Nirvana, Kate Nash and the Ting Tings all played here before they found fame, so you have a good chance of finding your new favourite artist here.
Visit the Saint-Nicholas Festival in Nancy
The 36-day festival runs until December 31st, and sees a host of events dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Who’s Saint Nick? Well, he is the protector of the weak and oppressed, as well as the patron saint of lawyers, sailors and school children.
The “Fêtes de Saint-Nicolas” attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Nancy every year, and you can expect lights, street performances, parades, food villages, art markets, rides, games, concerts, a spectacular sound and light show, a grand procession.