Toulouse is renowned as France’s ‘pink city’ for its unique terracotta architecture. The city hosts the vibrant Toulouse Christmas Market during Christmas, featuring local crafts, food, and festive entertainment.
In this article, I’ll provide all the essential information for your visit, such as the confirmed 2023 dates, opening times, locations and what local specialties you can expect.
Toulouse adds a distinctive touch to Christmas with its special Garonne River light show, illuminating the waterway and nearby landmarks.
The city is also known for its Nativity scenes, prominently displayed in various locations and often created with a modern twist.
Toulouse Christmas Market 2023
The Place du Capitole serves as the main stage for Toulouse’s Christmas Market, featuring a magical, illuminated village that gives a true sense of the holiday spirit.
Here, paths lined with fir trees guide you to white chalets, where you can explore a variety of gifts as well as traditional Christmas treats.
Another highlight is the ice rink, set up for those who want to skate amidst festive light decorations.
If you’re interested in meeting Santa Claus, rest assured he makes a scheduled appearance, along with shows that entertain both young and old.
While the Capitole market draws the most attention, don’t overlook the Christmas Market at Square Charles de Gaulle, distinguished by its designer chalets and remarkable decorations.
Further diversifying your experience, the Village of Creators on the Ramblas features around twenty chalets dedicated to artisans and creators, and two chalets spotlight local producers.
Dates and Location
Toulouse Christmas Market dates: 24th November to 26th December 2023.
Location: Place du Capitole.
Opening times: Sunday to Thursday: 10.30am to 8.30pm. Friday and Saturday: 10.30am to 10pm.
Christmas Eve: 10:30am to 7pm.
Christmas Day: Open 2pm to 7pm.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 24th November.
Ice skating: Yes, at Place du Capitole.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Public transport: Metro: Capitole.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Illuminated village ambiance, designer chalets at Square Charles de Gaulle, artisan focus on the Ramblas.
Recommended tour: Electric tuk-tuk tour with photo stops.
Specialities: Cassoulet, Toulouse sausages, Occitanie mulled wine, classic roasted chestnuts.
Where to stay: Le Grand Balcon Hotel is a popular hotel, located directly across from Place du Capitole.
Hotels near Toulouse Christmas Market
The Capitole de Toulouse is the city’s historic centre and is the best area to stay near the Christmas market in Place du Capitole. This location provides easy access to the market as well as other key attractions and transport links.
Location of Toulouse Christmas Market
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
Taking a city tour of Toulouse offers an excellent opportunity to grasp the essence of its historical richness and cultural vibrancy.
Known for its terracotta buildings and ties to the aerospace industry, Toulouse has become an intriguing destination even during the colder months.
You might like the Electric Tuk-Tuk Tour for a twist on the typical tour. On this tour, you’ll traverse Toulouse’s streets on a zippy electric tuk-tuk, pausing for photo opportunities and benefiting from an included audio guide.
During the tour, expect to pass by iconic sites and landmarks like scenic gardens, the awe-inspiring Basilica of Saint-Sernin, and the serene banks of the Garonne.
Alternatively, the Victor Hugo Market guided food tour is highly recommended if you want to explore Toulouse’s food scene.
Discover Toulouse’s most expansive indoor market and indulge in the authentic tastes of France, sampling everything from crusty baguettes to exquisite cheeses.
After exploring what Toulouse has to offer, you might also find my France Christmas Market 2023 guide useful for discovering other magical markets around the country.
Christmas in Toulouse
Christmas Specialties in Toulouse
Cassoulet: A dish originating from the South of France, cassoulet is a slow-cooked casserole containing meat, usually duck or sausage, and white beans. Often considered comfort food, you’ll find it on many stalls at the Toulouse Christmas Market. It’s especially appreciated during colder months for its hearty, warming qualities.
Toulouse Sausage: A local favourite, the Toulouse sausage is made from pork and seasonings and is often served grilled. Its rich flavour pairs well with a variety of side dishes and is a hit at the market.
Roasted Chestnuts: These are not unique to Toulouse but are a staple at European Christmas markets. Vendors roast them on open fires, filling the air with their warm, nutty aroma. A paper cone filled with these treats is perfect for munching as you browse.
Vin Chaud (Mulled Wine): A quintessential Christmas market beverage, mulled wine is popular throughout Europe. In Toulouse, vendors prepare it with a local twist, using regional wines and spices. It’s served hot and is perfect for keeping your hands and soul warm while exploring.
Aligot: This is a dish made from cheese blended into mashed potatoes, often with some garlic and butter. It originates from the southern part of France and provides a creamy, stretchy delight at the market.
Crêpes and Galettes: While not exclusive to Toulouse, these thin pancakes are a French staple. Crêpes are usually sweet, filled with sugar, Nutella, or fruit, while galettes are savoury and may contain cheese, ham, and eggs.
Macarons: These are small, round, sweet meringue-based cookies. Though not a Toulouse specialty, they are a beloved treat across France and make for great gifts.
Hot Chocolate: A universal favourite, hot chocolate is readily available at the market. Though not unique to Toulouse, it’s a popular choice for families and offers a non-alcoholic warm beverage option.
Raclette: Originating from Switzerland but popular in the French Alps, raclette involves melting a wheel of cheese and scraping off the melted part onto diners’ plates. It’s commonly served with small firm potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, etc.
Pain d’Épices: This is a French gingerbread made with honey rather than molasses. It’s usually spiced with cinnamon and cloves and makes for a sweet snack or a lovely gift.
Craft Beers: While not a traditional Christmas market item, a selection of locally brewed craft beers has been making its way into the Toulouse market. For those looking for an alternative to mulled wine, this offers a taste of the local brewing scene.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Occitan Cross Jewellery: This traditional symbol from the Occitan region, of which Toulouse is the capital, is often crafted into beautiful necklaces, earrings, and brooches. Craftsmen at the market use various materials such as silver, gold, and even locally sourced stones to create these pieces. These items serve as fashionable accessories and a piece of Toulouse’s rich culture and history.
Toulouse Violets Products: The violet is the flower symbol of Toulouse, and you’ll find a range of products, from perfumes to soaps, infused with its scent. The market stalls are a good place to explore these violet-based products, and they make unique gifts or souvenirs to take home.
Local Wines: The region around Toulouse is known for its vineyards. At the Christmas market, you’ll find a selection of local wines, often packaged in festive bottles or gift sets. This gives you a chance to take a taste of the local terroir back home or gift it to someone special.
Handcrafted Wooden Toys: With a nod to simpler times, stalls often include a variety of traditional wooden toys like spinning tops and carved animals. These toys are usually handcrafted by local artisans and serve as charming, nostalgic gifts for children or collectors.
Occitan Ceramics: Hand-painted ceramics are another specialty of the Toulouse region. Plates, bowls, and decorative items often feature regional patterns or scenes. Such pieces add a touch of Southern French charm to any home and are durable keepsakes.
Fine Chocolates: While chocolates are a common gift worldwide, those you’ll find in Toulouse often incorporate local flavours like Armagnac or violet. Beautifully boxed and ready for gifting, these chocolates add a sweet, regional touch to your Christmas shopping list.
Provencal Fabrics: Tablecloths, napkins, and aprons made from Provencal fabrics add a splash of colour to any home. With bright, festive designs inspired by the natural landscape of Southern France, these fabrics make lovely, practical gifts.
Santons: These small, hand-painted terracotta nativity figures are a Christmas tradition in Southern France. At the Toulouse market, you’ll find a range of these, from simple shepherds to intricate magi, each adding a Provençal touch to a nativity scene.
Christmas Ornaments: While not unique to Toulouse, handcrafted Christmas ornaments can be found in many stalls. Made from various materials, from glass to wood, these ornaments often feature French motifs or scenes, making them a distinctive decoration for your tree.
Things to Do in Winter
To stay updated on the city’s latest events and winter activities, I recommend visiting Visit Toulouse, the official website for Toulouse tourism.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are some suggestions on how to travel more responsibly in Toulouse this Christmas.
Eco-friendly Accommodation: While in Toulouse, consider staying in hotels that are committed to sustainability. Many establishments in the city centre have adopted renewable energy solutions, such as solar power and wind energy, to lessen their environmental impact. By choosing such accommodations, you contribute to reducing your own carbon footprint.
Food Waste Reduction: When sampling foods at the Christmas Market in Place du Capitole, exercise moderation to avoid unnecessary waste. Vendors often sell delicious yet sizeable portions. Buy just enough to enjoy the variety without contributing to food waste.
Ethical Consumption: Toulouse’s Christmas Market is a good place to exercise mindful shopping. Focus on artisan products and locally-made gifts, which tend to have a smaller carbon footprint and support local businesses. Buy only what you genuinely need or will use to avoid unnecessary consumption.
Sustainable Diets: As you enjoy Toulouse’s culinary delights, try incorporating more plant-based options. For instance, indulge in the locally-produced vegetable cassoulet or tapenade, which are not only delicious but also have a smaller carbon footprint compared to meat-based dishes.
Sustainable Transport: The city is known for its well-developed public transport system, including metro, trams, and buses, which are all efficient ways to explore Toulouse. Consider using these modes of transport rather than renting a car to reduce your environmental impact. If you’re staying in the city centre, you’ll find that many attractions are also easily accessible on foot.
Toulouse Christmas Market 2023 dates are confirmed as 24th November to 26th December 2023.
Situated at the heart of the city, the Toulouse Christmas Market is located in Place du Capitole, an iconic and easily accessible location. There are 6 Christmas markets in the historic city centre of Toulouse.
Toulouse Christmas Market is open from Sunday to Thursday: 10.30am to 8.30pm. Friday and Saturday: 10.30am to 10pm. Christmas Eve: 10:30am to 7pm. Christmas Day: Open 2pm to 7pm.
The Christmas period does attract additional visitors to Toulouse, especially around the Christmas market. However, the spread-out nature of the city and the variety of festivities mean that it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly crowded.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Toulouse, France. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.