A Quirky Christmas Market in Paris

Christmas market and ultra-modern skyscrapers… not two terms that usually go together.

I was in Paris last week for work. Having a few spare hours, I hopped on the metro to La Défense, largely for nostalgic reasons. (La Défense, as you might know, is the largest purpose-built business district in Europe). Back in the 90s, when I worked as an EU-adviser for the government, I had a few meetings out here and was quite taken with the cool, futuristic architecture.

Arche de la défense

Christmas markets, on the other hand, brings to mind the past. The markets originated in the German-speaking parts of Europe. (Vienna was first, as early as 1294). Often, the markets are set up in the old parts of cities, harmonising beautifully with ancient fountains, medieval church spires, Hanseatic houses…

But not always!

Between the Arche de La Défense and the slick, cutting edge glass-and-steel towers, I stumbled upon an entire Village de Noël, a Christmas Village – a very quirky Paris Christmas Market. As I strolled around the stalls, looking up at the brightly lit scyscrapers, the past and the future blended to make an interesting, all-encompassing present.

Innovative Christmas tree at Village de Noël, La Défense, Paris

Innovative decorations at Village de Noël, La Défense, Paris Innovative decorations at Village de Noël, La Défense, Paris

I never know what to get my mum for Christmas. Or my brother. But I managed to find quite a few unusual things here. This Christmas Village offers

This Paris Christmas Market is a cornucopia of fun and festive finds

Paris Christmas Market

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

… and food

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Heaps of hams and sausages…

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

A giant pan for raclette to enjoy on the spot and foie gras to take home:

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Honeys

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Cakes and sweets

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

… and more sweets:

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Say it with chocolate:

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

… and even more lovely, handmade chockies:

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

Paris hosts at least 10 different markets during Advent. The largest runs along Champs-Elyssés, from the Champs-Elyssés roundabout all the way down to Place de la Concorde. Another interesting one is at Trocadero, right next to the Eiffel Tower.

Many of the Christmas markets last until 2 January, so if you’re in or near Paris, there’s still time to get a few quirky Christmas presents and indulge: mulled wine, gourmet food, meats from Alsace, foie gras, honey, wine, cognac. And chocolate.

Christmas Village, La Defense, Paris

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56 Responses to “A Quirky Christmas Market in Paris”

  1. Nicole 11 December 2011 1229 #

    Gorgeous photos Sophie!

    I’ve heard amazing things about Christmas markets in Europe and am so very jealous you can visit. 🙂 You’ve made me hungry for honey toast now! Haha.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 11 December 2011 1243 #

      Thanks, Nicole 🙂
      Europe is very pretty before Christmas, but come January, I’ll be very envious of you down there in cheerful, summery Oz.

  2. Nicole 11 December 2011 1305 #

    I’m actually coming to your side of the world in January Sophie. 😉

  3. Turkey's For Life 11 December 2011 1314 #

    Love the architecture of the building in the top photo…and then I saw all the lovely food photos too… Mmmmm. 🙂
    Julia

  4. Jan Ross 11 December 2011 1519 #

    Last year in late November, we had just returned from Europe. In most places, they were still setting up the Christmas markets but the one on the Champs-Elyssés was all set up and lit up beautifully as we walked back from dinner with some friends. I would loved to purchase everything in sight, but didn’t have much room in our suitcases. Maybe someday I’ll go back – and leave plenty of room in my suitcases this time!

  5. ItalianNotes 11 December 2011 1532 #

    Looks like a Christmas market to my taste – or perhaps it’s just the lovely photos.

  6. David @ Malaysia Asia 11 December 2011 1856 #

    Beautiful pictures of the Christmas Market. I only wish that we had markets like these in Malaysia. Merry Christmas in advance Sophie!

  7. Eileen Ludwig 11 December 2011 1932 #

    Love all the wonderful pictures and being in Paris is so Special – Enjoy your visits

  8. Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 December 2011 1400 #

    Julia, Jan, ItalianNotes, [email protected], Eileen, Angela – Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  9. Angela 12 December 2011 1438 #

    Lovely, the more eclectic the better gifts you can find 🙂

  10. Christian 12 December 2011 1449 #

    For some reason I never thought there would be Christmas markets in Paris of all places. These photos are gorgeous and very tempting.

  11. Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 December 2011 1538 #

    @Christian – I was a bit surprised, too. Christmas markets is something I connect with Germanic countries – and Eastern Europe. But this was cool, with a distinctive French flair.

  12. The GypsyNesters 12 December 2011 1559 #

    I love the light scuptures! The skyscrapers in the background make the photos really pop! -David

  13. mivvy 12 December 2011 1803 #

    Beautiful photos. I did not know Paris has Christmas Markets, because I associate these with Germany. The photo of the Christmas tree that consists of colourful balls looks exactly like the Christmas tree in Dublin’s O’Connell Street

  14. Sherry 12 December 2011 2134 #

    Seems like a rainbow of selections and lights. So nice to see a different spin on a Christmas market in Europe. I myself would rather have a unique gift than a popular one. Looking like a nice stop for the holidays.

  15. Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 December 2011 2326 #

    @Gypsynesters – Interesting combination, isn’t it – the old and the ultra-modern.

    @Mivvy – I’d really like to see the one in Dublin – imagine there would be loads of beer 🙂

    @Sherry – Agreed, much rather have the unusual and quirky.

  16. RyukyuMike 13 December 2011 0052 #

    By golly, you just inspired me. I’ll go to the big city and see if I can find some Christmas Market in Okinawa ! Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing.

  17. jade 13 December 2011 0414 #

    What a fun Christmas market! And, in Paris… why didn’t I know they were also in Paris. Makes total sense now, but I just didn’t realize it until I saw your title. Fun!

  18. Jessica 13 December 2011 0606 #

    What fantastic pictures! You really brought life to the market.

  19. Abby 13 December 2011 0656 #

    These colors were so ridiculously festive and wonderful!! What a great holiday post!

  20. jenjenk 13 December 2011 0715 #

    how fun…and how delicious!! would love another trip back to paris, especially during the holidays!

  21. Cathy Sweeney 13 December 2011 0959 #

    I do love Christmas markets. Haven’t been to the one near La Défense — the contrast of new world and old world can certainly be striking. Looks like lots of goodies at that market!

  22. Anne-Sophie Redisch 13 December 2011 1630 #

    @Mike, Jade, Jessica, Abby, Jen and Cathy – thanks for looking 🙂

  23. Mark Wiens 13 December 2011 1832 #

    Awesome set of photos, I love the colorful combinations and the cross of food to go with it! Looks like I need to find a similar market to buy some gifts real soon!

  24. Stephanie - The Travel Chica 13 December 2011 1958 #

    I am definitely missing out on this whole Christmas market in Europe thing. Looks wonderfully festive!

  25. I love all the lights and would think it would be amazing just wandering around! What a great find 🙂

  26. robin 14 December 2011 1223 #

    A beautiful collage of shots – fantastic way to showcase the market 🙂

  27. Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 December 2011 2331 #

    @Mark, Stephanie, Debbie and Robin – Thanks 🙂

  28. Nancie 15 December 2011 0149 #

    What a wonderful find…lovely photos!

  29. Lisa 15 December 2011 0400 #

    Another lovely Christmas market – I think if I lived in Europe I would spend the entire month of December roaming from market to market.

  30. Andrea 15 December 2011 0425 #

    Fabulous!! I love the local flair of each individual holiday market across Europe

  31. Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2011 0703 #

    @Nancie, Lisa and Andrea – Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  32. Michael 15 December 2011 0746 #

    Hah! You beat me to it. Been meaning to visit this Christmas market and other ones in Paris. Looks rather interesting. Somebody observed that it feels much like the Christmas market in New York. Nice shots!

  33. Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2011 0750 #

    @Michael – Not so easy to combine hiking with one of the Paris Christmas markets, perhaps? A New York Christmas Market would be interesting to see. With the skyscrapers, I can see how that could be similar. But different as well. Like New York and Paris.

  34. Muza-chan 15 December 2011 0758 #

    Lovely photos 🙂

  35. Denise 15 December 2011 0807 #

    lovely. I finally managed to make it to the Vienna christmas markets this weekend…but I was so sick with a cold that I could just walk around like a zombie…I couldn’t even eat the lovely food 🙁 So angry…

  36. Michelle 15 December 2011 0904 #

    This post is very interesting..You really brought life to the market.Looks like I need to find a similar market to buy some gifts real soon!

  37. Jim 15 December 2011 1015 #

    Gee, these pics really give me the Christmas feeling!

  38. Mary @ The World Is A Book 15 December 2011 1024 #

    What wonderful and colorful pictures! The food and all those trinkets will make me go broke but with a satisfied stomach. I would love to visit the European Christmas markets.

  39. Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2011 1242 #

    @Muza-chan – Thanks.

    @Denise – Sorry to hear you were sick. Hope you’re feeling better. Next year, eh…?

    @Michelle – thank you.

    @Jim – Very cheerful market it was.

    @Mary – My wallet was distinctly slimmer when I left.

  40. Jackie Smith 15 December 2011 1733 #

    Absolutely fantastic photos and I am so jealous. . .I can’t imagine going to Paris for work. . .afraid the hum-drum Pacific Northwest doesn’t match up to it.

  41. Leigh 15 December 2011 1816 #

    I’m amazed at the number of Christmas markets in Europe and the selection offered – so much delicious looking food.
    I love the first shot of the pink & white Christmas tree.

  42. Michael Figueiredo 15 December 2011 2006 #

    Beautiful photos! I haven’t been to La Defense, but every time I’ve gone up the Eifel Tower I am intrigued by it.

  43. Kymri 15 December 2011 2034 #

    I love all those photos! Makes for a festively decorated blog!

  44. Laurel 15 December 2011 2100 #

    I love all the lights. Interesting that most Christmas markets last so long in Paris. In Germany they’re usually over by Dec 23rd.

  45. Andrew Graeme Gould 15 December 2011 2344 #

    A beautifully colourful market post. A delight to see here!

  46. InsideJourneys 16 December 2011 0053 #

    Wow, what a rich selection of goodies! I’d be so dizzy, I wouldn’t be able to decide what to get but I’d enjoy looking.

  47. Anne-Sophie Redisch 20 December 2011 1248 #

    @Leigh, Michael, Kymri, Laurel, Andrew and InsideJourneys – Thanks for your kind comments.

  48. judith 21 December 2011 0524 #

    Wow! This is great place to do shopping I like going to Paris..I love sharing this photo..Thanks for sharing this to us..

  49. Eileen Ludwig 22 December 2011 1746 #

    Paris – my favorite city – envious for your travels there – bring me stories of her

  50. Becky GlobalGrasshopper 24 December 2011 1117 #

    Paris has some great markets but this looks like a particularly beautiful one! Happy Christmas!

  51. Andrea 26 December 2011 2131 #

    Lovely photos of the best Christmas market in Paris (imo). Unfortunately I didn’t get there this year but will definitely make the trip again next year. Have a great New Year Sophie!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 December 2012 1216 #

      Such a lively place that. Wish I had time for a quick trip to Paris this time, too.

  52. Kayla @ TheEclecticElement 6 December 2012 0625 #

    I’m completely smitten with all the photos you took of this wonderful sounding holiday market! You can almost get lost in all the vivid colors, yummy foods, and of course decadent chocolate 😉

    Oh do I hope to visit Paris one day!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 December 2012 1217 #

      Thanks, Kayla. There’s really nowhere like Paris.

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  1. the lazy travelers | no travel required - 17 August 2013

    […] Ok fine, our Christmas market obsession may be spinning out of control. A Quirky Christmas Market in Paris […]

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