Amiens Christmas Market
A magical Christmas experience
TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS © NOËL AMIENS
Set in France’s beautiful cathedral town of Amiens, the city will be set alight during the festive season when it hosts its renowned Christmas market. The two-kilometre-long market is set right in the centre of the city. Key attractions include 130 chalets, a big wheel, an ice-rink, an impressive mountain village with a toboggan run, a Father Christmas’ house – which is set in a magical forest filled with surprises – and a plethora of market stalls selling handmade items amongst other things.
Isabelle Dheilly directs the Amiens Federation of Traders Associations and organises the Amiens Christmas Market: “This year, we prioritised artisanal, handmade items, many of which are local products. There’s an ironworker who makes decorative iron animals, as well as an artisanal soup producer – you can taste the delicious soup on the spot and leave with your own bottle,” she says.
Other popular products include handmade soaps, foie gras, beer, and mulled wine. “We offer something for everyone, including gifts for children,” says Dheilly. There is even a garderie where parents can leave their children for an hour of face painting and storytelling, while they can do their Christmas shopping. On 14 December, local ice hockey team Gothiques d’Amiens will play a match on the ice-rink and sign autographs afterwards.
The market runs through the centre of the city along its longest pedestrianised street, and visitors pass all of Amiens’ most impressive sites, including the UNESCO-listed cathedral, the medieval belfry, the old town and the floating gardens. It is certainly worth visiting in December, when the cathedral is lit up daily with a magnificent light and sound show.
When night falls, the market and city are at their most charming, lit up by thousands of Christmas lights and decorations. To experience the full magic of it, Dheilly recommends visiting in the evening: “The city’s inhabitants and visitors come to taste the mulled wine or hot chocolate, and there’s a wonderful atmosphere with the smell of cinnamon and waffles in the air.”
Last year, the Amiens Christmas Market was voted the 15th best out of all Christmas markets in Europe, and it is currently the largest in France, with 130 stalls running over two kilometres. This year, it takes place from 23 November until 31 December (it will be closed on 25 December).