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.

La Grande Arche de la Défense, Paris

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 La Grande 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 Christmas market. As I strolled around the stalls, looking up at the brightly lit skyscrapers, the past and the future blended to make the present interestingly all-encompassing.

La Défense Christmas market

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 Market offers all sorts of unexpected surprises.

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

– and food

Heaps of hams and sausages…

A giant pan for raclette to enjoy here and now:

  • and honey to take home:

Cakes and sweets:

… and more sweets:

Say it with chocolate:

… and even more lovely, handmade chockies:

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 in mulled wine, gourmet food, meats from Alsace, honey, wine, cognac. And chocolat.