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Moments of Weakness: Christmas markets in Paris

It’s already December and Christmas is just around the corner! What better way to get into the Holiday spirit than by visiting multiple Christmas markets?

A few days ago, I visited two of the many markets in Paris: The most famous one (Champs-Élysées) and the biggest one (La Défense). I enjoyed a nice cup of hot wine, bought myself some delicious artisan salted caramel nougat and pain d’épices (spice bread) and ended up buying some saucissons au canard(dry cured duck sausages), perfect for apéro. I didn’t plan on buying any of these things, but that’s what happens when you take pictures at a Christmas market in France. You photograph food and the next minute you’re tasting it, having a nice conversation with the producers and buying products from them.Well, I guess I had a moment of weakness, but then again, how can anyone possibly resist French food – or charming French vendors?

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Champs-Élysées is currently decorated with gorgeous Christmas lights to celebrate the Holiday. When they light up at night, the boulevard transforms into something magical  – like taken out of a Disney movie. Last night I felt that magic, as I was strolling along the boulevard. However, the day I went to visit the Christmas market – in the morning – something way less magical happened. I witnessed a fight between a tourist and a pickpocket who had allegedly stolen a purse from the tourist. Seemed like the tourist won the fight – and the pickpocket surrendered and moved on to the next target; me. The pickpocket-lady tried to approach me, so I started speed walking my way out of there.

Few minutes later, there I was. Safe and sound at the Christmas market. As you all know, most European countries have increased security at the Christmas markets due to recent events, and even though it was strange to see more police officers than civilians at the market (it was 11 am), it sure made me feel at ease. My hands were cold, so I bought myself a cup of hot wine to warm my frozen fingers and to satisfy my taste buds. I took a picture of some lovely Christmas ornaments. The vendor noticed and asked me jokingly if I could take a picture of him too. I laughed politely, wished him a good day and moved on to the next chalet. The ornament-vendor wasn’t the only one pulling that joke. Most of the vendors did. I wanted to take a picture of the French traditional artisan nougat. So I did. “Do I look good in the photo? Do you want a different pose?” the vendor asked me in French. I explained to him that he wasn’t the star of the photo – the nougat was. He offered me to try three different types. The traditional one, a cashew one and one with salted caramel – which I ended up buying. The smell of raclette lingered in the air. Although the smell is awful, the fact that I know it’s raclette and raclette tastes amazing, made me wanna feed my stomach with this heavenly melted cheese.

The Christmas market on Champs-Élysées is quite spread out, as the main road and its traffic divides the market in half. Nonetheless, the market was quite a joyful event thanks to the funny vendors, high quality produce, delicious street food and lovely Christmas lights on the Champs-Élysées. Make sure you visit this market in the evening to get the wonderfully magical atmosphere!

where: Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris

when: From 11.11.16 to 08.01.2017

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La Défense has the biggest and most authentic Christmas market in the region of île de France. This market is set up like a village, filled with more than 300 chalets displaying handmade crafts, fresh produce and small restaurants. Set in the financial district, the market was obviously full of businessmen – and women – enjoying a nice lunch at the market before returning to the office. As I photographed the food displayed by one of the restaurants, one of the chefs called me over to tell me “that’s 2 euros per picture”. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not, and he could tell by the confused look on my face. He laughed and shook his head to confirm that he was indeed messing with me. A vendor called me over and asked me if I wanted to taste some nougat. I had to disappoint him as I had already bought some from someone else. A lady offered me some caramelized almonds. I didn’t buy any – and felt guilty about it.  I didn’t take many pictures at this market, as it was way too crowded and actually way less picturesque than the market on Champs-Élysées. Picture-perfect or not, this market has great variety in terms of handmade ornaments, outerwear, artisan produce, street food – and drinks. The market is also right next to a shopping center, which gives you the opportunity to go shopping for Christmas presents before or after exploring the Christmas market. Be careful – or you’ll end up spending too much, eating too much and drinking too much. But then again, when in France…

where: Parvis de la Défense, 92400 Paris La Défense

when: 17.11.16 – 27.12.16

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Other Christmas markets in Paris

Christmas market and ice rink near the Eiffel Tower – at Champ de Mars

place Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Montparnasse Tower

Montmartre

Gare de l’Est

Notre Dame Cathedral

Place d’Italie

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(photos from the market on Champs-Élysées)

 

 

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39 comments on “Moments of Weakness: Christmas markets in Paris

  1. What's Katie Doing?

    These photos definitely get me in the Christmas mood. It’s funny how everyone was joking or flirting with you!!

  2. Just beautiful! I love Paris and I love this city at Christmas! By the way, after reandig this I started craving all the foods that I’ve seen 😀

  3. Whenever I think of European Christmas markets, I automatically think of Germany, Austria & Eastern Europe. I never knew there were lovely markets like these in Paris. As I’m in Australia, one of the things on my bucket list is to visit the Christmas Markets so I’ll have to put Christmas-time in Paris on that list too. The food sounds divine.

    • Actually, the best Christmas market in France is in Strasbourg, which is close to the border to Germany. You should check it out 🙂 but the ones in Paris are lovely too, and shouldn’t be left out 🙂

  4. Oh how lovely these markets look! I started to write about Christmas markets this year, however in Bavaria. Maybe I’ll get the chance to visit Paris next year.

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  6. I didn’t really think Paris had such real Christmas markets, but they look lovely. I think it is the ultimate treat in these cold and dark days.

  7. I can’t believe the Champs Élysées are transformed into such a Christmas wonderland! I can see why you spent more than you wanted – so many goodies to buy (and eat)! I haven’t had raclette in such a long time – hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

  8. I simply can’t resist shopping when in such a cute market. And I can totally relate to the moments of weakness..i had mine on my recent trip to Rajasthan, India which is like a hub of crafts and garments

  9. I love how you titled “moments of weakness” 😀 Can totally ralte to that. Can see losing myself between your photos… The nougat vendor sounds lovely though haha.

  10. When I think of Christmas markets, Paris is not what comes to mind. Like you said, who can say no to French food and you must have had a tough time saying no to some. I was in Paris a few months ago and I am interested to see what Champs de Elyss looks like now.

  11. This reminds me of the Christmas Markets in Germany and Czechia! Paris definitely wouldn’t be my first thought when someone mentions cosy christmas markets… It certainly looks like a Christmas Wonderland. All the foods and goodies just completes the entire Christmas feel. I could spend hours just getting lost and each and every one of these markets. 🙂

  12. Aw yayy I was in Paris exploring the markets exactly this time last year so your photos brought back some great memories. I didn’t see the market at La Defense, but did go to the Champs-Élysées one several times. I agree that it’s like a disney movie!! Your story about the pickpocket though made me sad 🙁 unfortunately that’s the way it is though – in touristy areas you just always have to be careful. Sucks that it ruined the mood a bit though.

    • Yeah, unfortunately that happens in big cities, and Paris is no exception. You should check out the La Défense market next time you’re in Paris in November /December 🙂

  13. Beautiful pics. I wanted to go to Paris from a long time. Thanks for sharing.

  14. What a fun and festive christmas market. Paris does it right. The Champs Elysees is beautiful anytime, but at Christmas is magical. Cool post.

  15. Kathy - Walkabout Wanderer

    I love Paris but I haven’t been there at Christmas time. I bet it makes it super beautiful with the lights, smells and sounds. Great post, I feel like I was there. Not great to read about the pick pocketer though. Lucky you saw here coming/the previous victim did.

  16. These markets look fab! I wish ours was a french one – I love raclette! I always find them too busy and avoid Christmas markets, maybe I should get up earlier 🙂

  17. Christmas markets are undeniably my favourite aspect of the holiday season although I guess it must be equally enjoyable for pick-pockets too. Regardless however, Paris certainly does seem to do its Christmas markets very well and I can only imagine the excitement these stall invoke in the children visiting. I’d be happy to be left at the champagne bar though!

    • Haha, I’d love to spend time at the Champagne bar…. But I was there at 11 am and I kinda feel like it’s wrong to hang out and drink alcohol before lunch time. Haha. But then again, it’s five o’clock somewhere.

  18. Looks like some great markets. I went to the German Christmas market in my local town just before I left the UK and it looked the same as the first one you visited, though a lot smaller. It’s nice to go and try a few different foods and sweets, though they only sold beer and wine which I don’t drink!! Would love to explore more in different parts of Europe the next time I spend winter in Europe 🙂

  19. I love Christmas Markets and this looks perfect – it is so quiet too! We headed to Winter Wonderland in London this week and it was so magical! Did spend a fortune though and now need to visit Paris Christmas Markets!

  20. Looks like such a great atmosphere! I never knew they actually had a Christmas market at Champs-Élysées. Wonder how long it stays open this season, we might decide to drive to Paris for a day.

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