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France Christmas Markets

Escape the hectic UK shopping centres and the cold, dreary high-streets and head for France to experience traditionally festive market stalls brimming with seasonal gifts and handmade crafts. The brilliantly coloured wooden cabins sparkle with fairy lights and the smell of traditional French gastronomy and mulled wine fills the air around the town squares where the French Christmas Markets are situated.

From regional delicacies such as cheese, jams, foie gras and escargot, to handmade gifts including Christmas decorations, children's toys and unusual ornaments, you will soon discover that special treat for someone back home. Temperatures may sometimes fall below zero so wrap up warm, pick up a glass of mulled wine and surrender to the festive spirit.

Great Rail Journeys provides a stress-free means of getting to the Christmas Markets in France by arranging all the travel and accommodation for you. Your specially trained Tour Manager will meet you at the station and be available throughout the duration of your trip should you need any assistance. If you prefer to do things more independently, your Tour Manager will be happy to leave you to your own devices so you can enjoy your holiday as you wish.

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At the confluence of the Rivers Moselle and Seille in the North-East of the country lies Metz, home to the second most popular Christmas Market in France. Along with its striking yellow limestone buildings and diverse architecture, the town boasts one of the largest pedestrianised zones in the country. The market itself is situated within the main square meaning you are free to wander around with ease. This particular market comprises of around one hundred stalls, and has been established for over 15 years. Here you'll discover an array of delicious local produce including homemade jams, pastries, the famous Moselle wine and it is certainly worth tasting their mouth-watering fruit brandy. Additionally, you may stumble upon folk dancers and other street entertainers in and around the market, and crowds of carol singers will really get you into the festive spirit. Besides the French Christmas Market you may be lucky enough to witness the St. Nicholas parade. Early in December, a procession of floats and bands wind their way through the gaily lit streets and is a spectacle not to be missed.

Each Christmas Market in France has its own festive charm and character. Dijon, capital of the Burgundy region towards the East of the country, is home to another charismatic marketplace. Over 60 stalls are assembled in the central square (the Place de la Libération) selling handmade seasonal gifts, decorations and trinkets. Typically French delicacies can be found such as foie gras, pain d'épices which is similar to our gingerbread and locally produced wines. Most notably, however, the town is largely famous for its Dijon mustard which you will find in abundance. You may even wish to visit the Mustard Museum! Away from the hustle and bustle of the market you might like to try out your ice skating skills at the town's ice rink, situated in the Place de la République not far from the French Christmas Market. Take time to explore the town and marvel at the spectacular architecture and churches, perhaps visiting the Fine Arts Museum or trying out a little wine-tasting.

Christmas Markets in France tend to run from the end of November right through to the beginning of January, giving you plenty of opportunity for a well-earned Christmas break.