Known for its rich history and vibrant culture, Nantes becomes even more special during the Christmas market period.
In this article, I’ll provide details on the confirmed 2023 dates, opening times and local specialties to make your visit smoother.
Nantes takes on a special glow at Christmas, with its streets illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights.
The city’s rich maritime history combines with festive traditions to create a unique Christmas atmosphere that you’ll find hard to replicate elsewhere.
Nantes Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Nantes takes pride of place as the most substantial festive event in western France.
Set amidst the urban heart of Nantes, the Place Royale and Place du Commerce will house nearly 130 chalets, each contributing to the Christmas magic.
This annual affair attracts both the young and mature, enveloping them in a blend of festive warmth and mesmerising performances.
Weekends at the market promise an array of enchanting activities: graceful fairies dancing in vibrant floral attire, while children can revel in face painting sessions.
Creativity takes centre stage in the “creative workshop” chalet, where youngsters aged 3 to 10 can craft their own Christmas-themed masterpieces.
The star attraction, Santa, awaits in his illuminated abode, eager to hear every visitor’s wishes.
This year’s emphasis lies in ensuring that the products at the market are of stellar quality. Exhibitors meticulously source raw materials, often bearing labels that testify to their excellence.
The commitment to quality and originality shines through, with 56% of the exhibitors hailing from Nantes or neighbouring regions and a focus on artisanal products.
Dates and Location
Nantes Christmas Market dates: 23rd November to 30th December 2023.
Location: Place Royale and Place du Commerce.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday: 10:30am to 8:30pm. Thursday to Saturday: 10:30am to 9pm. Sunday: 11am to 8pm.
Christmas Eve: 10:30am to 6pm.
Christmas Day: Open 3pm to 8pm.
Final day: 10:30am to 8pm.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date and magical show opering: 23rd November.
Santa: Yes, on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas Day. From 2:30pm to 6:30pm. Photos are free.
Ice skating: Yes, at Place du Commerce.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Public transport: Take the tram to stop: Commerce.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Beautiful city-centre location, French-origin handcrafts, street decorations.
Specialities: Mulled wine, nougats, regional cheeses, Breton pastries, gourmet chocolates, traditional galettes.
Where to stay: Oceania l’Hôtel is a popular hotel, located 4 minutes from Place Royale.
Hotels near Nantes Christmas Market
Staying in the city centre of Nantes, particularly near Place Royale, ensures you’re close to the vibrant atmosphere of the Christmas market. This central area has easy accessibility to other attractions, making it ideal for visitors.
I suggest staying at Oceania l’Hôtel for its excellent proximity to the market, where you only need to walk down the street.
Location of Nantes Christmas Market
Continuing your exploration of holiday markets in 2023? I recommend reading my guide to the best Christmas markets in France for more insights and tips on festive markets around the country.
Christmas in Nantes
Christmas Specialties in Nantes
Fouace nantaise: A sweet bread originating from Nantes, the fouace nantaise often features a hint of orange blossom and rum. It’s typically enjoyed warm, and when you break it open, the soft insides almost melt in your mouth. Warming your hands and stomach during the chilly winter months is a comforting treat.
Rillauds: These are small pieces of pork belly that have been slowly cooked and then preserved in their own fat. Often seasoned with local herbs, rillauds make for a hearty snack when wandering around the market stalls.
Galette-saucisse: This simple yet satisfying dish consists of a pork sausage wrapped in a buckwheat pancake. A typical snack from nearby Brittany, it’s become popular at Nantes Christmas Market due to its delicious combination of savoury sausage and slightly nutty pancake.
Muscadet wine: Produced in the Loire Valley surrounding Nantes, this dry, white wine is a popular choice at the market. Typically paired with seafood, the wine’s crispness and slight fizz also make it a refreshing drink to enjoy as you browse the stalls.
Mulled wine: A staple at many Christmas markets around the world, mulled wine is a warm drink made by infusing red wine with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. It’s perfect for sipping on a cold evening and instantly evokes the spirit of the season.
Roasted chestnuts: A treat that you’ll often smell before you see, roasted chestnuts are sold by vendors across the market. Their smoky aroma draws visitors in, and the warm, slightly sweet nuts provide a comforting snack as you walk through the market.
Gingerbread: Another international favourite, gingerbread comes in various shapes, from hearts to festive characters. Its rich spices and unmistakably Christmassy taste make it a must-try snack.
Hot chocolate: No Christmas market would be complete without this warm, creamy drink. Made from rich cocoa, it’s the ideal beverage to wrap your hands around and sip while taking in the sights and sounds of the market.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Nantaise jewellery: Craftspeople from Nantes often showcase intricate pieces, from necklaces to earrings, inspired by the city’s maritime history. The designs frequently incorporate symbols of the Loire River, giving them a unique touch. These pieces can serve as both a fashionable accessory and a memento of your time at the market.
Breton ceramics: Hailing from the nearby Brittany region, these hand-painted ceramics combine traditional motifs with modern design. Bowls, mugs, and plates often feature iconic Breton stripes or scenes of coastal life. They serve a functional purpose and add a touch of French charm to any home.
Hand-carved wooden toys: An age-old tradition, wooden toys are a staple at Nantes’ Christmas market. Craftsmen take pride in their work, ensuring each piece, whether it’s a puzzle or a miniature car, is crafted with precision. These toys promise longevity and are often cherished keepsakes passed down through generations.
Loire Valley wines: The Loire Valley, with Nantes as its gateway, produces some exquisite wines. At the market, vendors often sell a selection of local wines, ranging from crisp whites to fruity reds. Gifting a bottle is a thoughtful way to share the taste of the region.
Things to Do in Winter
I suggest you also check out Visit Nantes, the city’s official website, for a thorough list of winter activities and up-to-date events during your stay.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here’s some guidance on how to adopt responsible travel habits in Nantes this Christmas:
Eco-friendly accommodations: Nantes is home to several hotels that prioritise sustainability, many of which run on renewable energy sources. When booking your stay, look for establishments with a clear commitment to the environment, such as energy-saving measures.
Mindful dining at the markets: Aim to minimise food waste as you indulge in the festive treats at Nantes Christmas market. It’s easy to over-order in the excitement, but try to gauge your hunger accurately and remember that many stalls often offer smaller portions upon request.
Conscious consumerism: While the allure of Christmas stalls in Nantes can be strong, ensure you’re making ethical purchasing decisions. Buy only items you genuinely love or have a purpose for, and give preference to local artisans who use sustainable materials or methods.
Sustainable diets: Nantes offers an array of regional dishes, many of which are sourced locally and sustainably. When choosing what to eat, opt for plant-based options or those with minimal environmental impact to support sustainable farming practices in the region.
Green transportation choices: The city of Nantes boasts an efficient public transport system, which includes trams and buses. Consider using these modes of transport or simply walking to explore the city, as it reduces your carbon footprint and offers a more immersive experience of Nantes’ festive streets.
The Nantes Christmas Market 2023 runs from 23rd November to 30th December 2023, making it a central part of the city’s winter festivities.
You’ll find the festive atmosphere of Nantes Christmas Market in the iconic Place Royale and Place du Commerce, situated in the heart of the city centre.
The Christmas markets welcome visitors from Monday to Wednesday: 10:30am to 8:30pm. Thursday to Saturday: 10:30am to 9pm. Sunday: 11am to 8pm.
Nantes experiences mild winters, with temperatures often hovering above freezing. While snow is rare, bringing a warm coat and possibly an umbrella is advisable, as rain can be frequent.
If you would like to leave a review of Nantes 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 Nantes, France. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.