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Christmas Market


pouyade

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Lille in December is prettily illuminated in the old town (though shops usually closed on Sundays).
There's a spectacular ferris wheel in one of the three main squares.

The Christmas market itself is a bit naff though.  The usual chalets full of tawdry bonnets and stuff.  Hotel rooms are at a premium, and often overbooked from what I heard when I was there a couple of years back.

So I would not specially recommend the actual Christmas market.

Angela

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For me the Strasbourg Christmas market is just too big and crowded.  Far too many people but there again I don't like crowds that much.  Too far to go for only 1.5 days anyway.

Unless you specifically wanted France, have you considered Brugge or Gent in Belgium?  I wouldn't normally reccommend Belgium for anything (well except maybe chocolate and beer) but these 2 places are very nice and have pretty Christmas markets.  Also dead easy and quick to get too, in fact you could do both in one day.

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The write-ups that I have found of travellers to the Belgian markets have expressed disappointment at both the small scale of these markets and the goods on offer. I did try to find out about Boulogne, without success, and Amiens.

Anyone any other experiences?

Thx

Pouyade

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HI we spent a good weekend in Lille ans found if was good. Reasonable size Christmas market great on the Ferris Wheel. Then on Sunday morning go to the weekly market about half a mile west of the main square (sorry cannot remember exact square) but this is quite big. Bob.
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thouroughly recommend the opening night of gravelines christmas market to get you in the mood ( including snow) there are about 3 villages along there that do them try and search  the pas de calais  tourist board and then nord and its only a short drive from calais, the date is useally the 3rd Sat. in December . Bruges also has a nice one
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The Amiens marché de Noel is fantastic and runs from 24th November.

There are 600 shops plus a further 125 seasonal "chalets" in the pedestrianised area. There is also an ice skating rink, merry go rounds and lots of vin chaude. 

The son et lumiere show projected onto the cathedral  (7pm each night + 11 and midnight Xmas and new years eve) is spectacular.

www.amiens.com/tourisme (rubrique bons plans)

Also if you are there on a Sunday visit the marché des pigeonnieres (locally known as the marché des Arabs) in Amiens nord. You will think that you are in North Africa, not the best of places to visit during the riots or to park a flashy UK registered car though, I go there most Sundays to buy whole boxes of fruit and veg for 2 or 3 euros when the traders want to pack up for lunch.

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[quote user="J.R."]

The Amiens marché de Noel is fantastic and runs from 24th November.......The son et lumiere show projected onto the cathedral  (7pm each night + 11 and midnight Xmas and new years eve) is spectacular.

[/quote]

The son et lumiere really is GREAT!  It runs from 1 Dec to 1 Jan. It's free; you just join the crowd finding a good position on the far side of the square from the statue-encrusted west front of the cathedral.  (Somewhere in the middle is best.)  The only downside is the endless flashing of spectators' mobile-phone cameras once the colours start to appear.  There is a French commentary about the discovery of fragments of original paint when the statues were being cleaned;  the lighting cleverly reproduces these colours, so each statue is "clad" in differently coloured clothes etc. After about half an hour, the commentary has finished, but the lights stay on, and you can move right up to the cathedral for a close look at the illuminated figures and biblical scenes.

Angela

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just for the record we went back to Belfast for a week just before Xmas last year and found the most fantastic Xmas atmosphere there; international Xmas markets featuring goods and food stalls from all over Europe around the town hall/city centre, lights, huge illuminated Xmas trees and lots to do for the kiddies. I had a ball and had to be forced back on the plane in Dublin.

We are getting out of France for Xmas this year as nothing really happens down our way...near Spain that is. I'd be back to Belfast but Ryanair have hiked up the airfares too much. Why not try the markets in Germany...Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Baden Baden?. Too cold for me though. We are going waaaay south this year; winter has arrived too early south of France this year.

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[quote user="Loiseau"][quote user="J.R."]

[/quote]

The son et lumiere really is GREAT!  It runs from 1 Dec to 1 Jan. It's free; you just join the crowd finding a good position on the far side of the square from the statue-encrusted west front of the cathedral.  (Somewhere in the middle is best.)  The only downside is the endless flashing of spectators' mobile-phone cameras once the colours start to appear.  There is a French commentary about the discovery of fragments of original paint when the statues were being cleaned;  the lighting cleverly reproduces these colours, so each statue is "clad" in differently coloured clothes etc. After about half an hour, the commentary has finished, but the lights stay on, and you can move right up to the cathedral for a close look at the illuminated figures and biblical scenes.

Angela

[/quote]

My new French girlfriend told me that after the French commentary it was redone again in English, I was shocked as I certainly didnt hear it and hung around for some time after, looks like you didnt hear it either, perhaps it is a new thing.

I will be visiting it again soon to see.

By the way it is also shown during the summer tourist season which is when I saw it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Just back from Aachen again. In the past we have visited Christmas markets in Lille and Rouen plus Valkenburg (Netherlands) and they are enjoyable but having more recently been to Christmas markets in Cologne and Aachen, I am convinced that you really have to visit a German market to experience the real thing.

PS Aachen is also called Aix la Chapelle in French. The Dutch call Lille, Rijsel and there are countless similar examples (Dunkirk/Duinkerk/Dunkerque). Is it not time for a European directive whereby each place name is also known internationally by its own proper name. eg. the French would call the English capital city LONDON while the British would reciprocate and call the French capital PARIS. On a serious note this would make road signs much more easy to understand especially in border regions.

Brian

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  • 2 weeks later...

Right. We went to Lille this last weekend, had a good time and enjoyed ourselves despite the teeming rain. We stayed in the Mercure Opera, whcih was very raesionable at £36.50 each incl breakfast.  I enjoyed mooching around the shops but the market itself was poor and very small. Sunday, the sun came out and we went on the wheel – super way to see the lovely architecture. Easy journey via tunnel (except for ‘rain stopped play’ M25!). Others in party want to return, but in the spring. I will be happy to, too, as long as I am allowed several trips to the ‘Chat Bleu’ choccie shop……………….

 

Pouyade

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