6 Reasons to Visit France in December

6 Reasons to Visit France in December 1

France is wonderful any time of year, but it seems especially so during December. Illuminated festivals, unbeatable shopping, pop-up ice rinks and decadent meals are just the start. Airfare is more affordable during the winter, too, and unless you’re seeking snowfall and skiing in higher altitudes, the weather usually stays in the 40s and 50s. Here are six reasons to plan a trip to France during the holidays.

6 Reasons to Visit France in December 2

1. Christmas Markets

Stroll through jolly Christmas markets adorned with twinkling white lights. Sip a hot spiced wine as you search for the perfect gifts for your friends and family. Local artisans and vendors will have products for sale that you can’t find anywhere else. Stop by the bright windows decorated for the season and look on while the kids go round and round on the carousel. France’s oldest and largest Christmas market is in Strasbourg, where you can roam through La Petite France, a neighborhood made of fairytale-like buildings, including a gingerbread bakery and various shops.

2. Hearty Cuisine

December is the best time of year to taste earthy French food, including the country’s popular black truffles. Either venture out to go truffle hunting on your own or buy them at the Var’s weekly truffle market that runs through early March. Mushrooms of all types will be in markets and on menus, too. Seasonal dishes include foie gras, smoked salmon, French onion soup, and rich chocolates. Coastal towns will have their own specialties straight from the sea.

3. Skiing and Wintertime Sports

France has ski slopes for both experts and novices, and most of the instructors will speak English, making it easy to learn if you’re a beginner. Kids as young as three can get lessons! Cross-country skiing is also available. Val Thorens in the French Alps is Europe’s highest resort, and there’s also phenomenal skiing to be found in Chamonix and Tignes. For people who want to spend their winters in France, there are remarkable ski-in/ski-out properties for sale. High-end luxury ski chalets can be used as a second home or even year-round – some resort areas offer winter sports all year long, while others have exciting outdoor recreation once the snow melts.

If you’re not a skier or you’re hoping to branch out a bit, there’s an array of sports to keep you busy, like snowshoeing, ski-dooing, skating and tobogganing. Snowboarding is particularly popular in the Tignes mountains – for an extra challenge, head to the Swatch Snowpark. You can also try ski jeering, where you wear skis and get pulled along by a horse. There are more extreme sports to challenge yourself with, too, like ice diving.

4. Après-Ski

Whether or not you spend your days on the slopes, ski resorts are hailed for their luxurious and energetic après-ski scenes. Attend winter festivals, cheer on snow sculpture competitors or let loose at a concert. To unwind and warm up, book a spa day. Events and activities are available no matter what type of experience you’re looking for: adventurous, swanky or relaxing.

5. Paris at Christmastime

Paris is a city built for the magical wintertime. Don’t miss the Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette or the lights of the Champs-Élysées (also home to some of the best shopping in the world). Snack on roasted chestnuts before taking a seat on a sidewalk cafe’s heated terrace, where you can order a cup of creamy hot chocolate. Ice rinks are setup all around the city during December. To feel like a kid again, head to Disneyland Paris, which will be thoroughly decked out for the holidays.

6. Christmas Eve Mass

Christmas Eve Mass is a huge event in France, for both Christians and non-Christians alike. The beautiful cathedrals and comforting festive hymns are just too lovely to pass up. After midnight mass, indulge in the Reveillon Feast, where families gather together for a late-night meal.

France has everything there is to offer during December. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or just want to make the most of the snow-covered mountains, you’ll be hurrying to squeeze everything in before the spring thaw arrives.

Compare listings