Christmas on the French Riviera🎄 The Best Markets & Events
During the Christmas holiday season, the French Riviera turns into a magical place that everyone will love! With the traditional market chalets, parades, lights, and many local delicacies, the French Riviera celebrates Christmas in its fullest.
The French Riviera is a great place to spend Christmas, as it has something for every taste. There are places to party with champagne and DJ’s. There are places to go if you want a ski chalet vibe. And there are places where you can get a homey nostalgic feeling. There are exceptional Christmas markets and villages, where the traditional log chalets are icons of the season, and you can warm yourself with mulled wine and spiced cider.
On the French Riviera, you can enjoy both watching the sunset on the beach, and a traditional Christmas experience.
Only have time to visit one Christmas Village? While every town has its own charm, the best place to have a holiday meal in a beautifully decorated hotel is undoubtedly Monaco. Monaco also has the advantage of having several areas set up for holiday excitement. In Monaco, there is more to see, and it is more spectacular and luxurious (but more expensive) than the other cities.
However, if you are looking for the best Christmas market and Santa’s cabin, you’ll find that in Nice, which has a much more charming Christmas village. Nice is also better for kids, as it has a charming Santa’s cabin that’s open nearly all the time, plus many fun rides and activities just for kids.
Some small towns have charming and small Christmas Villages, but only for one weekend, and they get very crowded so it can be hard (or impossible!) to find parking. While those can be fun to see (the one in Mougins is especially charming, with hay covering the ground), the crowds and effort required to find parking can outweigh the benefits, especially with much larger markets happening throughout December in cities like Cannes, Nice and Monaco, which all have plenty of parking.
When to Visit:
The French tourism boards notoriously procrastinate and release the details last-minute, but you can be sure that whenever you come in December, there will be markets and fun holiday things to do. Most cities launch their holiday markets the first Saturday in December and close the markets in the first days of January.
About this Holiday Guide:
Below is a list of the best places on the French Riviera to visit for the December 2023 Christmas season (in alphabetical order, by town/city). We will update the list as new information is released. Please make sure to double-check with the local tourism office before going to an event.
Antibes & Juan-les-Pins
Antibes and Juan-les-Pins has a rather boring Christmas holiday market, and not much to do for kids.
- There is a Christmas village housing 40 chalets with gourmet treats and small gifts
- Free horse-drawn carriage rides in the old city
- Ferris wheel, carousel, and other rides for kids
- Ice skating rink
- Animal farm and pony rides for children
- Workshops have a number of activities to offer
Christmas holiday events guide: Check out our guide to Christmas in Antibes.
The small seaside town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer does not have a market, but it does offer musical entertainment all around town, theater performances, and an ice show.
- Horse-drawn carriage rides
- Ice-skating rink
- Christmas concerts and carols
- Traditional Christmas mass at church
Christmas holiday events guide: See the guide to Christmas in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
The charming town of Cagnes-sur-Mer has a lot going on every December. It doesn’t have a Christmas village, but it has many holiday events, shows, and parades happening.
- Workshops and parades for kids
- Disney characters will cheer up everyone on the streets
- Traditional Christmas masses will be held at several churches
- Theater shows
- Santa’s forest
- Pony rides, and horse-drawn carriage rides
Christmas holiday events guide: See our guide to Christmas in Cagnes-sur-Mer for details.
During the Christmas season, Cannes lights up with chalets, parades, live music and decorations. It’s one of the best places to visit if you have kids, as it has many rides, activities, and parades for kids. The Christmas market is much smaller and less impressive than the one in Nice, but still worth a visit if you have kids.
- The Christmas market has 30 chalets (including Santa’s chalet) featuring local specialties and handicrafts
- Christmas parades with acrobats, Christmas characters, and illuminated performers
- Have fun and watch a performance or go skating on the ice rink
- Numerous games, rides, workshops, and plenty of entertainment for kids
Christmas holiday events guide: Take a look at our guide to Christmas in Cannes.
Frejus & St Raphael
Frejus celebrates the holidays with two ice-skating rinks and two holiday markets: a gourmet market in the historic heart and a Christmas Village selling gifts on the seafront of Fréjus. A lot of the festivities center around children, with rides, skating, an obstacle course, and parades just for kids.
- A gourmet Christmas market for food and a Christmas village for gifts
- Ice-skating rinks
- Funfair for kids
- Disney parades
- Festive family obstacle course
There are numerous parades, children’s workshops, and musical entertainment around Menton. With carols, spiced treats, and glittering lights, the celebration guarantees that you experience the Christmas season in Menton with all your senses.
- Christmas market with 30 chalets and spiced holiday treats
- Ice-skating rink and toboggan ride
- Ferris wheel, workshops, Santa’s letterbox, and parades for kids
- Musical entertainment, puppet shows, Christmas carolers and parades
With a different look and theme for the main Christmas Village every year, multiple ultra-luxurious Christmas villages and winter gardens in Monte Carlo, 5-star treats and elegant decorations, it’s no wonder Monaco is considered one of the most luxurious places in the world to spend the holidays. It’s a great place for adults who love luxury (and aren’t price-conscious) to experience the holiday season in style.
- 18-metre-high Christmas tree, decked with 4,000 ornaments in white and gold
- Christmas village / markets on the port and in Monte Carlo, overlooking the yachts
- Christmas-themed shopping events, decorated hotels and bars
- Roller rink, toboggan ride, ferris wheel, and go-karts
- Gourmet cabin, carolers, and ice skating path through Christmas trees in Casino Square
- Musical performances, ice shows, street performers, and the occasional treasure hunt for kids
Christmas holiday events guide: Check out our complete guide to Monaco’s Christmas Village, markets and holiday events.
The charming hilltop town of Mougins celebrates the Christmas holidays in typical Provence style.
- A charming Christmas market (for one weekend only) with various booths from exhibitors that sell gifts and crafts
- Food trucks and stalls with holiday treats and mulled wine
- Meetings with Santa and holiday workshops for kids where they can learn gingerbread-making and other skills
- Live music concerts
- Pony rides
- A small ice rink with views over the French Riviera’s hills
Nice has the best Christmas Village on the French Riviera, and the most Christmas lights, with nearly every palm tree (about 500 of them) strung up with sparkling white lights, creating a very glamorous effect. Nice’s Christmas market has the most (and the best) gourmet holiday treats, holiday drinks, Swiss and Canadian gourmet food chalets, and several gourmet dessert chalets. To make the market fun for families, Nice provides several large children’s areas and a large Santa’s workshop and chalet, which are must-see’s for those with kids.
- Christmas market with 50 traditional chalets selling delicacies and gifts
- An enchanted village, with fir trees and wood-chips on the ground, will take you into a winter wonderland
- Ferris wheel, workshops, parades, and more entertainment is set up for kids
- A nativity scene with life-size figures
- Many musical events and concerts
- A big Christmas Parade
- An elaborate and cozy Santa’s workshop cabin
Christmas holiday events guide: See our guide to Nice’s holiday events & Christmas markets.
Saint-Tropez & Ramatuelle
St. Tropez has a small Chtismas market with a skating rink, and a few gourmet chalets. Theater, concerts, comedies, and musicals add to the fun.
- Christmas market traditional chalets selling delicacies and gifts
- An ice-skating rink
- Telethon event with sporting challenges, giant barbecues, and garage sales
- Romantic pony and mini-train rides
- More events with Santa in the nearby Ramatuelle village
Christmas holiday events guide: See our guide to St Tropez for Christmas for more details.
St. Paul de Vence will focus on the traditions surrounding arts and gastronomy.
- Truffle market with farmers’ market and many local truffle producers
- Musical entertainment
- Children’s workshops to create beautiful holiday decorations with your children
Vence hosts a real Provençal Christmas with a small market and some fun events.
- Christmas village in Grand-Jardin
- Children’s village at Place Clemenceau , in the heart of the old town
- There are lots of events happening, from magic shows to jugglers and musical entertainment
You can get the whole schedule on Vence’s official Christmas events itinerary.
The town of Villefranche-sur-Mer celebrates Christmas in a very Mediterranean style. The point of the festivities is always the sea! Celebrate Christmas here with live music, performance sports, cinema, light shows, giant creches, and many activities for a complete winter holiday experience.
- Christmas parade
- Musical show for kids
- Fairground rides and stands
We hope you enjoy all the holiday fun in the French Riviera this Christmas season!
Don’t forget to check out our guide to New Years celebrations on the French Riviera and in Monaco.