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How to celebrate Christmas in France

By Aline
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Christmas in france

Christmas in France is an extraordinary time of year, marked by joyous celebrations, heartwarming family gatherings, and a unique blend of traditions that make it an unforgettable experience. This extended blog post delves deeper into the French way of celebrating Christmas, highlighting the festive markets, traditional family dinners, and the vibrant customs that surround this magical season.

The Enchantment of Christmas Markets in France

A quintessential element of Christmas in France is the “Marché de Noël,” or Christmas market. These markets transform city centers into winter wonderlands, brimming with festive spirit. The Strasbourg Christmas Market, possibly the most famous in France and one of the oldest in Europe, is particularly noteworthy. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in a festive atmosphere, with hundreds of stalls offering a myriad of items – from handcrafted ornaments and unique gifts to an array of local delicacies. You can indulge in traditional treats like “pain d’épices” (spiced bread), “chocolat chaud” (hot chocolate), and savour the heartwarming “vin chaud” (mulled wine).

These markets are not just shopping venues; they are a sensory experience, with the smell of roasting chestnuts and the sound of Christmas carols filling the air.

Christmas in france

The Joy of Family Gatherings and Dinners during Christmas in France

In France, Christmas is a time when family is at the heart of the celebration. The Christmas dinner, known as “le Réveillon,” is a much-anticipated event. Picture a table laden with culinary delights, where families gather to enjoy a meal that is both a feast for the palate and a cherished tradition.

A typical “Réveillon” might include appetizers like smoked salmon and escargots, followed by a main course of roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing or “chapon” (roast capon). Side dishes could include “gratin dauphinois” (potato gratin) and a variety of vegetables. The meal reaches its peak with the “bûche de Noël,” a rich, creamy dessert that is as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the taste buds. This dinner is a time of togetherness, where stories are shared, and the bond of family is celebrated.

Decorating for the Season of Christmas in France

The festive spirit in France is also evident in the decorations that adorn homes and streets. French families often decorate their homes with lights and a beautifully adorned Christmas tree, “sapin de Noël.” The tree is typically decorated with twinkling lights, colourful baubles, and sometimes, sweets or “papillotes” (wrapped chocolates). Another charming tradition is the placing of a nativity scene, or “crèche,” which may include hand-painted figurines known as “santons.”

Christmas Songs

Music plays a significant role in French Christmas celebrations. Traditional French carols like “Petit Papa Noël” and “Il est né, le divin Enfant” are heard everywhere, from homes to markets, bringing with them a sense of nostalgia and joy. French Christmas songs often tell stories and convey messages of peace and happiness, resonating with the festive mood of the season.

Outdoor Lights

Moreover, the tradition of decorating houses with lights is a sight to behold in many French neighbourhoods. Houses are festooned with twinkling lights and festive decorations, creating a magical atmosphere. Some neighbourhoods even engage in friendly competitions to see who can put up the most impressive display, turning their streets into a festive spectacle for all to enjoy.


Christmas in France is a kaleidoscope of vivid traditions, delectable cuisine, and festive cheer. From the bustling Christmas markets like the one in Strasbourg to the intimate family dinners, every aspect of the celebration is infused with warmth and joy. The beauty of French Christmas lies in its ability to blend age-old traditions with contemporary festivities, creating an atmosphere that is both heartwarming and joyful. Whether it’s through the twinkling lights, the melodious carols, or the sumptuous feasts, Christmas in France is a celebration that truly captivates the spirit of the season.

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