Nice offers a blend of Mediterranean climate and French Riviera elegance, attracting tourists year-round.
The Nice Christmas Market adds a festive touch to the city’s palm-lined streets and turquoise sea backdrop.
In this article, I’ll provide details on 2023 dates, opening times, locations, and local specialties in the South of France.
Christmas in Nice envelops the city with a warm glow as twinkling lights illuminate the iconic Promenade des Anglais.
Nice Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Nice, known as “Le Village de Noël,” stands out for its Alpine village theme, showcased through 60 chalets and an artificial forest of over 600 pine trees in Jardin Albert 1er.
Alongside the traditional fare, the market offers unique experiences like a Swedish Light Festival and an Eco Christmas Village.
Visitors can enjoy various attractions, including a Ferris wheel, an ice rink, and a themed House of Santa Claus for the kids.
Dates and Location
Nice Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 30th November 2023 to 1st Jan 2024.
Location: Jardin Albert 1er and Place Masséna.
Before Christmas Eve: Sunday to Thursday: 11am to 9pm. Friday and Saturday: 11am to 11pm.
Christmas Eve to New Year’s: 11am to 7pm.
Entrance closes one hour before closing time.
Christmas Day: Open.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 30th November 2023 at 6pm.
Santa: Yes. Père Noël can be found at Jardin Albert 1er until 24th December, 11am to 8pm on Wednesdays, weekends and holidays.
House of Santa Clause: Jardin Albert 1er. Sunday to Thursday: 11am to 8pm. Friday and Saturday: 11am to 10pm.
Face painting: Weekends and public holidays from 2pm to 7pm.
Swedish Light Festival: 10th December 2023, from 5pm.
Eco Christmas Village: 16th December 2023, 10am to 5pm.
Ice skating: Yes, at Place Masséna.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Alpine village theme, Ferris wheel, ice rink, Swedish Light Festival, Santa’s workshop.
Recommended tour: Nice Old Town walking tour.
Specialities: Socca, candied fruits, Provençal pastries, lavender honey, Niçoise treats.
Where to stay: Arome Hotel is an exceptionally well-rated hotel, 13 minutes from Jardin Albert 1er.
Hotels near Nice Christmas Market
For easy access to the Christmas market, the ideal place to stay is in the Old Town (Vieux Nice). This historic district is close to the market and within walking distance of numerous other attractions.
I highly recommend Arome Hotel; its popular location and high ratings make it an excellent choice for your stay during the festive season.
Location of Nice Christmas Market
Recommended Walking Tours
A city tour of Nice is an excellent way to discover the city’s past and cultural diversity. The appealing Old Town, vibrant building exteriors, and striking architecture make Nice a worthwhile city to explore, even during winter.
This walking tour of Old Town Nice highlights the city’s key points of interest.
Alternatively, consider taking this food tour to understand local culture via their gastronomy. I definitely recommend this in Nice, given its diverse food history and wonderful food and markets.
For the most reliable information on the best Christmas markets in France, including their locations, specialities, and opening hours for 2023, you’ll want to check out my guide.
Christmas in Nice
Christmas Specialties in Nice
Socca: Originating from Nice, socca is a chickpea flour pancake. Typically cooked on a large griddle, it’s sliced into irregular pieces and served hot. If you want to try a local specialty, socca should be high on your list.
Pissaladière: This dish is a local version of pizza, topped with caramelised onions, olives, and anchovies. Pissaladière holds a special place in the culinary landscape of Nice and is a common sight at the Christmas market.
Pan Bagnat: Essentially a Niçoise salad in a bun, pan bagnat is a fulfilling snack. The sandwich includes ingredients like tuna, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and olives, making it a hearty meal option.
Calissons: This sweet treat hails from Aix-en-Provence but is widely popular in Nice as well. Calissons are made from a smooth, pale yellow paste of candied fruit and ground almonds, set on a wafer and topped with royal icing.
Roasted Chestnuts: A traditional winter snack, roasted chestnuts are widely available at Christmas markets, including in Nice. Vendors roast them on-site and usually serve them in paper cones.
Mulled Wine: While not a local specialty, mulled wine is an essential part of many Christmas markets. In Nice, you’ll often find it with a unique twist, sometimes including a splash of local orange liqueur.
Churros: Known in France as chichis, these fried dough pastries are crowd-pleasers. Commonly enjoyed with a sprinkle of sugar or a dip in chocolate sauce, they’re a satisfying snack as you explore the market.
Tartiflette: Originating from the Savoy region, this dish combines potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons, and onions into a hearty casserole. Though not native to Nice, it’s often found at winter events throughout France, including the Christmas market here.
Raclette: This Swiss dish has made its way into French Christmas markets, Nice included. Raclette cheese is heated and then scraped onto the plate, commonly served with potatoes and pickles.
Gingerbread: Although not a French specialty, gingerbread is often found at Christmas markets worldwide. In Nice, the gingerbread stalls add an international flavour to your experience.
Sausages and Cured Meats: French saucisson and other cured meats are a staple at markets. Easy to eat while you wander, they offer a taste of French charcuterie that pairs well with mulled wine or a baguette.
Crepes: No French market would be complete without a crepe stand. Offering both sweet and savoury options, crepes are a versatile and beloved treat.
Macarons: These colourful, round cookies made of almond meal are usually filled with jam or buttercream. While not unique to Nice, they remain a popular choice at Christmas markets across France.
Hot Chocolate: Often homemade and sometimes enriched with cinnamon or vanilla, hot chocolate keeps your hands warm as you explore the market. A universal favourite, it appeals to visitors of all ages.
What to Buy
Handcrafted Olive Wood Items: Provence’s olive trees are famous for their fruit and beautiful wood, which artisans fashion into a range of items. You may find kitchen utensils, decorative bowls, or intricate ornaments, each piece unique due to the distinct grain of the wood.
Provencal Fabrics: Provence and the Côte d’Azur are known for vibrant, patterned fabrics. Look for tablecloths, napkins, aprons, and bags, all bursting with the colours and motifs typical of the region, like olives, lemons, and lavender. These fabrics make wonderful, practical gifts that bring a touch of the South of France to any home.
Lavender Products: The lavender fields of Provence are iconic, and at the Nice Christmas Market, you can find a plethora of lavender products. Consider essential oils, soaps, or dried lavender sachets – perfect for infusing drawers or cupboards with this soothing, distinctive scent.
Local Wine and Spirits: The South of France is renowned for its wine. Look for bottles from local vineyards or perhaps some Pastis, an anise-flavoured spirit popular in the region. Remember to check the regulations for transporting alcohol if you’re travelling internationally.
Traditional Christmas Decorations: A Christmas market without festive decorations wouldn’t be a Christmas market. Expect to find hand-painted baubles, wooden nativity figures, and handcrafted Advent calendars. Each one adds a special touch to the festive decor and can become a treasured keepsake for years to come.
Things to Do in Winter
For up-to-date information on winter activities and current events in Nice, I recommend checking out Explore Côte d’Azur as an additional resource to enhance your visit. Here are some winter travel ideas to get you started.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in the French Riviera and Nice at Christmas.
Use Renewable Energy: Several hotels in Nice prioritise using renewable energy sources. By staying in these places, you’re supporting initiatives that reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Reduce Food Waste: French culture highly values food, making it less common to see waste. Follow local customs – take home leftovers from your meal or ask for smaller portions at restaurants. At the Christmas market, only buy food you know you’ll eat.
Ethical Consumption: At the Christmas markets, look for stalls selling local artisan products, which not only support the local economy but also reduce the environmental impact of transportation. The handcrafted olive wood items or the Provencal fabrics are just a couple of examples.
Sustainable Diets: Opt for local, seasonal produce with a lower carbon footprint. The Christmas market is the perfect place to sample delicacies local to Nice, France, many of which are based on locally grown ingredients. The Socca or the Barbagiuan are prime examples.
Sustainable Transport: Nice is a walkable city, and the Christmas market in Old Nice is easily accessible on foot from many parts of the city. For longer distances, utilise Nice’s extensive public transportation system, which includes trams, buses, and shared bicycles. Not only is this an eco-friendly choice, but it also allows you to experience the city like a local.
If you want to leave a Nice Xmas Market review, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Nice, France. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.