I know Christmas must be just around the corner: our first Christmas card arrived this week and my Facebook feed is full of promos for Christmas markets in France. If I marked all the markets I’ve read about with pins on a map, I’d have dots in all eight corners of l’Hexagone.
From Lille in the north, to Marseille in the south, Christmas markets have become a firm favourite in France, it seems. The ones in Alsace-Lorraine are said to be especially good, partly thanks to its German heritage. Strasbourg is the largest and perhaps the best known of them, though Mulhouse and Colmar both rank highly too.
I gave into the temptation months ago. Along with over 4 million other Brits, I will be heading overseas to do some of my Christmas shopping.
France attracts around half of these gift-tourists – and Damon and I are off to Lille next weekend. There, Place Rihour will be transformed into a Christmas village (pictured). With over 80 little chalets selling local crafts, there will be plenty to choose from. From toy cars for my cousin’s boys to a cardigan for Damon’s mum, we’re bound to find something for all the family.
Plus, we’ll be able to pick up some mulled wine to keep us warm and perhaps une gaufre liégoise.
“Over 4 million Brits will be heading overseas to do Christmas shopping. France attracts around half of these gift-tourists”
We won’t spend the whole weekend wandering around the Christmas market. There’s a Galeries Lafayette in the city too, and loads of smaller boutiques.
I’ll be on the lookout for Damon’s Christmas present. He says he has no idea what he wants, which is always helpful, of course. I’m guessing new clothes, unless he chances upon some marionettes in the market. (Don’t ask.)
As for me, well, I may have dropped a hint – or 27 – about wanting a Paul Smith scarf to go with my new Paul Smith overcoat…