A tradition that originated in France’s Alsace region to the east of Paris in the 16th century, Christmas markets have grown in popularity in recent years.
Each year, France’s dozens of markets—with their quaint wooden stalls, flowing mulled wine and overpriced nativity scene figurines—bring in an estimated 27 million visitors, including 2 million at the original Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg alone.
In Paris, some markets—such as the ones at Notre Dame and Saint Germain Des Pres—more or less emulate the original. Others—for example, in La Defense or Clignancourt—take on a new, modern approach.
While each market has its unique advantage, this selection of the six best Christmas markets in Paris will surely fulfill everyone’s need for holiday cheer.
1. Gare de l’Est
For a classic Alsatian market, there’s no longer any need to go all the way to Strasbourg or Colmar. Located at the Gare de l’Est, Paris’s Alsatian Christmas market is the longest-standing outside of Alsace.
The market has a wealth of regional delicacies, from kougelhopf, a type of brioche, to schiffelé, a salted and steamed pork. Best of all: each day has a different free food or booze sample. Check out the list here.
2. Champ de Mars
Located right in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Champ de Mars Christmas market certainly gives Strasbourg’s a run for its money as well.
With more than 60 stalls, an ice skating rink and of course the scintillating Eiffel tower as a backdrop, this market has the feel of a bustling town of its own. Unlike many of Paris’ markets, which tend to close in the days right after Christmas, the Champ de Mars market stays open until January—good for the latecomers who booked their flight back home for several days after the winter rentrée.
It’s not far from Sacre Coeur, but surprisingly the vibe of the Christmas market in in the Montmartre neighborhood is tranquil—almost familial.
Different from the crowded, bustling markets at the Gare de l’Est and Champ de Mars, the Abbesses version feels more like a smaller town operation, with a few stalls and rides set up near the entrance to the metro. Walk up the steps of Sacre Coeur to sip some mulled wine and, if you’re lucky, see all of Paris blanketed in snow.
4. La Recyclerie
This year, the climate movement is taking over the streets of Paris—and the halls of its Christmas markets.
In recent years, La Recyclerie, an eco-friendly restaurant at the edge of Paris’s 18th arrondissement, has hosted two zero-waste Christmas markets.
The idea behind the markets is to sell products and presents that can be consumed without waste, such as houseplants, and hold various workshops on environmental stewardship (including a homemade present-making class!).
5. Le Hasard Ludique
Le Hasard Ludique, a bar and event space in the 18th arrondissement, hosts several modern takes on the traditional Christmas market. Past themes have included a celebration of African traditions, an eco-friendly take on the traditional Christmas market, and a focus on local artisans hailing from the increasingly diverse neighborhood between Clichy and Clignancourt. No matter what’s on when you stop by, you won’t be disappointed!
6. La Defense
What will Christmas markets look like in the 22nd century? Look no further than the one in La Defense. Under the towering skyscrapers of Paris’s main financial quarter, just west of the capital, the 300 stalls that make up the market feel minuscule in comparison.
Like the Champ de Mars market, La Defense’s also has an ice skating rink where revelers can skate under the “Grande Arche,” with views along the traditional “axis” of Paris all the way to the Arc de Triomphe.