Winter in Montpellier brings a charm of its own, as the beautiful city streets are lit up with festive cheer and a unique warmth that defies the cool temperatures.
Known for its vibrant mix of history and modernity, this Mediterranean city in the South of France transforms into a decorated wonderland with the arrival of its Christmas market.
In the following guide, I’ll provide all the necessary details, from the 2023 dates and opening times to market locations, standout stalls and local treats to try.
Back when I lived in Montpellier, I was lucky to experience the Christmas period on a couple of occasions. The historic heart is adorned with stunning festive lights that complement its traditional French architecture.
Montpellier Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas Market in Montpellier is known as Hivernales. The event normally sees the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle transformed into a winter wonderland. However, in 2023 the event will take place at Place Royale du Peyrou.
At the Christmas stalls, you’ll find a selection of unique crafts, from artisanal soaps to handmade jewellery and local food delicacies from the surrounding Languedoc-Roussillon region.
Dates and Location
Montpellier Christmas Market dates: 2nd December to 30th December 2023.
Esplanade Charles de GaullePlace Royale du Peyrou.
Opening times: 10am to 9pm. Friday and Saturday until 10pm. 24th December closes at 6pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 2nd December 2023.
Santa: No, but there is Peyrou’s Fairies and Santa’s Mailbox.
Ice skating: Yes, at Place de la Comedie.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: The blend of traditional and contemporary festivities. The cool, crisp air of the South of France in winter. Great activities for kids.
Recommended tour: You might like this popular food and wine tour.
Specialities: Foie gras on fresh baguette; confit de canard; truffles from Uzès; Montpellier-style roasted chestnuts.
Where to stay: Hôtel Richer De Belleval is a highly-rated hotel 7-minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Montpellier Christmas Market
Montpellier’s historical city centre is the best location to base yourself on during the festive season. Its narrow streets lead directly to the bustling Christmas market, blending convenience and atmosphere.
Given its excellent reviews and proximity to Hivernales Christmas Market, I recommend Hôtel Richer De Belleval for your accommodation.
Location of Montpellier Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
Taking a city tour of Montpellier is an excellent way to discover the city’s unique history and culture.
Even in winter, the city’s inviting old town, historic buildings and unique architectural styles make Montpellier a destination worth visiting.
During your city tour, expect to discover Montpellier’s most renowned sites and attractions, such as the historic Place de la Comédie, the Aqueduc Saint-Clément and the unusual Place de l’Europe.
Alternatively, you might fancy taking a food tour to gain a deeper understanding of the local culture through their culinary traditions. Montpellier is known for its excellent food and wine. This food and wine tour is a great introduction to the regional specialties.
Christmas in Montpellier
Christmas Specialties in Montpellier
- Bûche de Noël: A classic Christmas dessert in France, the bûche de Noël or Yule log is a sponge cake roll, traditionally filled with chocolate buttercream and covered in chocolate ganache to resemble a log. Modern variations can feature different flavours like coffee or chestnut cream.
- Foie Gras: A celebrated delicacy originating in France, foie gras is a rich, buttery, and silky product made of duck or goose liver. It’s commonly enjoyed over the festive period, often spread on warm slices of French bread or served as a starter.
- Confit de Canard: This dish is a hallmark of French cuisine. Made by slowly cooking duck in its own fat until it becomes incredibly tender, confit de canard is typically served with a side of potatoes cooked in the residual duck fat, creating a deeply flavoursome meal.
- Raclette: Originating from the French part of the Alps, raclette refers to both a semi-hard cheese and a dish. The cheese is melted and scraped onto boiled potatoes, charcuterie, and pickles. Although not exclusively a Christmas dish, its warming and communal nature make it popular during cold winter.
- Gratin Dauphinois: This dish hails from southeastern France. It’s a rich, comforting casserole of sliced potatoes baked in milk and cream. It’s often served as a side dish and is a hearty vegetarian option.
- Oysters: In France, oysters are often enjoyed at Christmas, served raw on the half shell with a squeeze of lemon or a dash of vinegar. They’re a delicacy that adds a touch of luxury to any Christmas meal.
- Ratatouille: Originating from Nice, Ratatouille is a colourful stew of summer vegetables like aubergine, courgette, bell peppers and tomatoes. While typically a summer dish, it is enjoyed year-round and is a staple vegetarian option in French cuisine.
- Tarte Tatin: A quintessentially French dessert, tarte tatin is a caramelised upside-down apple tart. Made by caramelising apples in butter and sugar before the tart is baked, it makes for a delightful finish to a Christmas meal.
Food at the Christmas Market
- Vin Chaud: Known in English as mulled wine, vin chaud is a warm, spiced red wine infused with a blend of spices like cinnamon, cloves and star anise. A staple at Christmas markets across France, its sweet, aromatic scent is often the first thing you’ll notice upon entering the market.
- Churros: While not traditionally French, these sweet treats have found their place at the Hivernales Christmas market in Montpellier. They are long pieces of dough, deep-fried until crispy and golden, then dusted with sugar. Often served with a side of warm chocolate sauce for dipping, they’re a must-try for those with a sweet tooth.
- Crêpes and Galettes: Crêpes, thin French pancakes, are a popular treat at the Montpellier Christmas Market. Typically filled with sweet toppings like Nutella, sugar, or fruit, they are cooked on large, round griddles. Galettes, on the other hand, are savoury crêpes made with buckwheat flour and filled with a variety of ingredients like cheese, ham and egg.
- Aligot: A comforting dish from the Auvergne region, aligot is a blend of mashed potatoes and cheese, whipped until it achieves a stretchy, velvety consistency. It’s incredibly warming and satisfying, making it a perfect street food option for the Hivernales winter market.
- Pommes d’Amour: Known as “apples of love”, pommes d’amour are candied apples, a favourite treat for children and adults alike. They consist of fresh apples coated in a hard, shiny layer of red sugar syrup, typically served on a stick for easy eating as you wander through the market.
- Marrons Chauds: Roasted chestnuts, or marrons chauds, are a quintessential part of any Christmas market. These chestnuts are roasted over open fires or in special barrel roasters, lending them a smoky, sweet, and nutty flavour. They’re typically served in paper cones, making them an ideal snack for warming your hands and belly as you browse the market.
- Pretzels: Another borrowed favourite, pretzels are traditional German baked goods that have become popular at Christmas markets worldwide. These twisted knots of dough are sprinkled with coarse salt before being baked to a golden brown. They are often enjoyed warm and make a delicious, easy-to-eat snack while exploring the market.
What to Buy
- Handcrafted Jewellery: The Christmas market in Montpellier is a great place to find beautifully crafted jewellery. Local artisans often have stalls displaying their work, which ranges from delicate earrings to statement necklaces. This jewellery often incorporates materials and motifs unique to the region, making each piece a distinctive memento of your visit.
- Locally Produced Wine: Languedoc-Roussillon, the region surrounding Montpellier, is one of the largest wine-producing regions in France. You’ll find stalls at the Christmas market selling bottles of local wine, perfect for gifting or enjoying yourself over the festive period. Rosé is particularly popular in this region.
- Olive Oil and Tapenades: Montpellier is situated in a region renowned for its olive oil production. Stalls at the market often sell high-quality, locally-produced olive oil alongside delicious tapenades – spreads made from finely chopped olives, capers and olive oil.
- Artisanal Soap: You can find a range of artisanal soaps at the market, often made with locally-sourced ingredients such as lavender, honey and olive oil. Savon de Marseille is a great choice here. These beautifully scented soaps make for practical gifts that are easy to transport home.
- Ceramics: The market is also a place to find exquisite ceramics made by local artisans. Whether you’re looking for a decorative vase, a unique mug, or a set of handmade plates, these high-quality ceramics are distinctive to the region and make wonderful keepsakes or gifts.
- Languedoc Textiles: The Languedoc region has a long history of textile production. Stalls often sell traditional Languedoc textiles at the Christmas market, from tablecloths and napkins to scarves and bags. Often decorated with local motifs, these items are a unique and practical reminder of your visit to Montpellier.
- Artisanal Sweets and Chocolates: Many stalls sell a tempting selection of sweets and chocolates. These range from traditional French sweets like nougat and calissons (almond paste sweets) to artisanal chocolates, all beautifully packaged and perfect for gifting.
- Local Artwork: Montpellier’s Christmas market is an excellent opportunity to browse local artwork. Artists from the area often sell prints, paintings, and illustrations, offering a unique way to remember your time in Montpellier or to give as a gift.
If you’re looking for additional destinations to add to your itineray, check out my France Christmas Market 2023 guide.
For more resources, Montpellier Tourism is useful for finding things to do and the latest events, exhibitions and concerts in Montpellier.
Sustainable Christmas Tips in Montpellier
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Montpellier at Christmas.
- Support Renewable Energy: While in Montpellier, consider choosing accommodation that uses renewable energy sources, one of the most effective ways of reducing emissions.
- Reduce Food Waste: When enjoying the culinary specialties at the Christmas market, be mindful of food waste. Opt to share larger portions with friends or family to ensure nothing goes to waste. Also, consider bringing your own containers for leftovers from market stalls.
- Ethical Consumption: Be mindful of your purchases at the market. Opt for locally-made products, such as handcrafted jewellery or local artwork, which support the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance shipping.
- Sustainable Diets: While enjoying the Christmas market food, consider options with a lower environmental impact. For example, crêpes and galettes are both vegetarian-friendly and locally sourced, making them a more sustainable choice.
- Sustainable Transport: Montpellier has an efficient and eco-friendly tram system, making exploring the city easy without a car. Consider using this form of transport, or better yet, get around on foot or by bike to reduce your carbon emissions. Montpellier is known for its pedestrianised streets in the historic centre, making exploring by walking or cycling enjoyable and safe.
The Montpellier Christmas Market starts on 2nd December until 30th December 2023.
The Montpellier Christmas Market is known as Hivernales and takes place in the heart of the city. The Christmas market normally takes place at Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, but in 2023, the event will be held at Place Royale du Peyrou.
The Christmas market in Montpellier opens at 10am and closes at 9pm, except on Friday and Saturday when it closes at 10pm. The market is closed on Christmas Day.
Winters in Montpellier are generally mild, with daytime temperatures usually between 10-15°C. It can get quite chilly in the evenings, so be sure to bring some warm clothing.
Considering the winter temperatures, layering your clothes is recommended. A warm jacket, gloves, and a hat would keep you comfortable while strolling through the market.
You can enjoy traditional treats like vin chaud, crêpes, galettes and aligot. The market also features delicious international food, such as German sausages and pretzels.
Montpellier has an excellent tram system, and much of the historic centre is pedestrianised, making it easy to explore on foot or by bike.
Spending winter in Montpellier truly provides a unique experience. I loved my time in this centre; the winters are mild and enjoyable.
With a rich history on display, fascinating local traditions and a vibrant Christmas market, it’s a great place to feel the warmth of French hospitality.
If you would like to leave a review of Montpellier Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Montpellier, France. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.