During the Christmas season, you always see lists with a title along the lines of “Best Christmas Markets in France“, or “in Europe“, and so on. In regards to the north of France, Lille always seems to make the list. And don’t get me wrong, the Christmas market here in my city is gorgeous- the ferris wheel offers sweeping views of the city (with the totally and completely laïque crèche on display at the bottom).
Lille at Christmas
However, in my humble opinion, Arras has one of the best Christmas markets I have ever been to, and definitely beats Lille’s. Arras, like Lille, has a big Grand Place, where the Christmas market is set up. However, the main square is twice the size of the one in Lille, which means that the Christmas market is twice as big. Even better, the floors are lined with red carpet, the aisles are wide with enough room to maneuver people on either side, and there are tons of food, drink, and shopping stalls.
I am so glad we arrived on an empty stomach, because we enjoyed very generous portions of tartiflette, gauffres, and mulled wine. The best part of the market was the bar set up in the middle of the market (deemed ‘The Jesus Bar’ by us for its very secular rotating Wise Men above the counters), at which we took several shots throughout the day.
There are a ton of tourists who come to visit the Arras Christmas market, including many Brits who cross the Channel for a change of scenery. As a group of five, we came to Arras by train, using a Grand ‘Ter pass (which gives two people 50% off a round-trip ticket, and three additional people a round-trip ticket for 10 cents each– which ended up being 4,50€ per person round-trip– a steal!)
If you’re looking for an off the beaten path Christmas market experience- I wholeheartedly recommend Arras.