On my recent stay in Paris, I was excited to go see the Christmas Markets because I had heard so much about the famed European Christmas Markets. And, because I am a crafter and I used to sell my items at craft shows and markets all around California. I mistakenly took a cab – I was staying at a hotel just off the Champs Elysee and the markets were only a short stroll away but I didn’t realize that.
Busy, crowded and bit rowdy was the opinion I had formed while riding past the markets the first two days I was in Paris. In person, it was the same – it was about 8:30pm on a Sunday night and the markets were doing a booming business. It wasn’t just small wooden booths – there were also large tented restaurants and bars. One large tented pavilion was actually a Brazilian BBQ restaurant and bar.
Most of the booths I saw were food booths – and NOTHING like American craft show food. I walked by huge round, BBQ “pans” – these were at table level and about 4 feet in diameter with shish kebab, chicken, ribs, sausage, and veggies sizzling away. Another booth offered a variety of sausages in pastries with or without cheese. Almost every food booth featured “vin chaud” – hot wine. I prefer my wine chilled so I passed on that treat. Hot chocolate, espresso and coffee were also offered – my hot chocolate was superb. It seemed like every other food booth was a dessert booth – I saw luscious looking pastries, cream puffs and eclairs, gingerbread, big cookies and huge candied apples. I enjoyed a squarish pastry with indentations filled with chocolate all over the top – not sure what it was called but it was scrumptious! In between the booths, you would also find a rolling “unit” roasting chestnuts – smelled delicious!
I was less than impressed with the actual crafts – very few appeared to be hand-made – I did see one booth with attractive, great smelling soaps and lotions, but many booths were just mass market (made in China????) products – I even saw a “Hello Kitty” booth. No holiday shopping was accomplished on that outing. Overwhelmingly, I got the impression the markets were really about the food. On the side of the street I walked, 90% of the booths were food booths.
Towards the end of “my” side of the market, were a couple of kiddie rides – closed because it was mainly an adult crowd that late in the evening. The signs reminded me that Santa Claus in France is Pere Noel – Father Christmas. (And I’m not sure I spelled that correctly!)
It was a fun evening and one I would do again in any city/area offering Christmas Markets. I know each region offers a slightly different version of a Christmas Market, each featuring foods and local gift items. They are not to be missed. You can also combine a river cruise that features the Christmas Markets in towns along the river.
Please call us at 559-324-8150 to help plan a trip including the Europe Christmas Markets.