Christmas is an important time in France and every region is filled with celebrations and festivals for much of the month of December. While there is no unifying celebration for the whole country aside from the likelihood that Christmas Eve will see much of France close down until December 26th, you can be sure that wherever you go during December you will be greeted with fantastic sights and remarkable displays of the holiday season.
In fact, December is a great month to visit France in comparison to many of the other times of year if for no other reason than it’s not an overly busy month for tourists. Sure, people still take trips but because France (especially in the northern regions) is a colder weather country, people typically seek out tropical destinations, leaving the country during this time to the locals. Despite having a prickly reputation, the French are a very hospitable bunch that will make you feel right at home if you’re travelling this holiday season.
On top of the many displays in the famous regions of Paris, such as at the Sacre Coeur Basilica and Notre Dame, expect much of the country to have a decidedly festive mood. If you’re looking for something to do and see during December, why not check out the following celebrations?
St. Nicholas in Nancy (Lorraine)
It seems every village has its own telling of the story of St. Nicholas, who rescued children from an evil butcher – but in Nancy the story is taken seriously and put on with grand flair. Taking place over a weekend at the beginning of December, the festival draws thousands of attendees to see the displays, fireworks and join in the fun times. It’s a family affair but one that anyone can enjoy.
Lyon Festival of Lights
A festival known throughout Europe and drawing thousands of attendees, this light display is one worth checking out. Taking place for four days around December 8th each year, the Lyon Festival of Lights sees many of the most famous buildings in the area decorated and put on display in glorious lights for all to enjoy. The only down side is it is extremely busy in Lyons during this time so finding accommodation is nigh impossible – but making a day trip, particularly if you’re already in the area is always possible.
The Living Horse Museum Christmas Show (outside Paris)
Of particular interest if you’re travelling with children or if you just have a love of horses, the Living Horse Museum puts on this show every year that lasts the entire month of December. Held at the grand stables at the Chateau de Chantilly, this show will delight and amaze all who attend.