When things don't go as planned: searching for Christmas Markets and vin chaud in Paris

Take a close look at the deserted Place Saint-Sulpice. Do you see any signs of a festive Christmas market? I didn't either even though a couple of websites mention it as a popular destination with vendors selling arts and crafts and tasty food. Standing in the cold wind yesterday evening, I whipped out my iPhone to confirm the address. Yup, Saint Sulpice, second largest church in Paris. This was the place - so where were all of the market stalls? Since I'm usually inclined to believe what I read on reputable sites on the internet, I wandered around and asked some of the locals about the location of the market. Most of them looked at me as if I was slightly deranged but can you blame them? I would question someone's sanity if they were muttering about vin chaud, marché de Noël, and Santa's Village when there was obviously nothing there. And worst of all, I was doing it in French with an American accent.

Even though everyone seemed to recall that there had been a market at the Place Saint-Sulpice, it took awhile for someone to suggest going to the Christmas Market on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. As it was only a short walk, I decided to head in that direction. Plus, the thought of mulled wine was a strong incentive to track down the illusive vendors.

Click to enlarge photos.

Things took a turn for the better when I spied the bright lights of the famous café, Les Deux Magots, and headed towards them like the proverbial "moth to a flame".

And, voila! There was the Christmas Market with an assortment of goodies.

Hand-cut Christmas cards
Colorful scarves and shawls
Christmas ornaments with Parisian themes
Best of all, a big pot of steaming hot mulled wine with orange slices and cinnamon sticks floating on top!

And did I solve the mystery of the missing market? You bet! It was closed because it didn't attract enough visitors last year, so all of the vendors moved to the other Christmas markets, including the one on Blvd Saint-Germain.

Moral of the story: Be persistent - even if it means making a fool out of yourself. You may not find what you're looking for in Paris, but perhaps you'll find something even better. Wearing a warm coat and gloves help keep you warm on your journey!


  1. Gorgeous photos! (Could I ask what camera and/or settings you use - for those beautiful night shots?) And well done on persisting and learning what happened to the other market!


  2. Thanks, Carolyn! I used a little Leica D-Lux 5 on the normal setting for the night shots. It's a great camera. Persistence definitely paid off in the end - it was all worth it once I had a cup of mulled wine in my hands.

  3. Please tell me you asked someone on the street where Santa's Village is!!!! LOL!

  4. you really have a knack for taking great photos! thanks for the "tip"?!

  5. Ella Coquine, Much to my ever lasting shame -- I did ask a man about "le village du Père Noël". It's a stupid thing that I do in French. Whenever someone doesn't seem to know what I'm talking about, I just keep talking when it would be so much better to shut my mouth. It was only when I saw the little smirk (you know the one!) on the man's face that I realized just how idiotic "Santa's village" probably sounded to a French person. Blush! and double blush! At least he was nice - he's the one who recommended that I go to the market on the Blvd. Saint-Germain.

    Andrea, I did a double-take when I saw "samovar". I'm much more accustomed to seeing that name on Twitter. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  6. Ah, my favorite neighborhood. I not seen the Christmas Market there. The tree lights are so regimented, so French. I was noticing last night how the tree lights here are now nets of light that encase the tree outline, but those seem built to a framework.

    And I bought pfeffer nusse cookies yesterday, yummy.

    So, about Santa's Village--do children there not have their photo taken with Santa? Where do they go to do that? And do they not show Rudolph on television there, with the elves in the factory?

  7. Mmm, pfeffernusse. They're delicious with tea!

    Nope - the poor kids don't seem to know anything about Rudolph and the elves. Up until I enlightened Stephane, he thought that it was Baby Jesus who brought the presents on Christmas Eve. Imagine - a baby doing all of that work! ; ) And according to Steph's post, she only recently found out that Santa Claus is married.

    Although to set the record straight, there was supposed to have been a "Santa's VIllage" at St. Sulpice according to the websites that I checked. Maybe this generation of French kids are savvy about the elves.

    In the German part of Switzerland, they still celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6. We always celebrated it when I was a child in the USA, I left my shoe out on the night of the 5th and woke up to find fruit, nuts, gingerbread and maybe a small present. I received an email from one of my brothers this week saying that St. Nicholas forgot to stop at his house this year. He must have been naughty!

    Oh and finally - it's strange that different countries do different things with their lights. Swiss people run their lights up and down the tree whereas we generally string ours around the tree.

  8. Ah, yes...I know THAT smirk. I get it a lot.

    MK, I'm still laughing out loud thinking of you searching for "Santa's Village" in Paris. It's too good.

  9. Those Parisian-themed Christmas baubles were fantastic. I hope to get to the Christmas market in Limoges on Sunday - but between now and then we have to saw our way through two very large trees. They've come down across our drive and between the lakes so we can't get past! Rors having to miss school today and busily trying to work out how to get Caiti back from lycee bus at lunchtime. The end of winter term always turns out chaotic!

  10. The vin chaud looks incredible! I've done little exploration of the markets and plan to explore this weekend. I've heard other nice things about the one at St. Germain, your photos have sold me!

  11. Mlle Ella, Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who's on the receiving end of THAT smirk! And yes, I shall continue to wander the streets of Paris looking for Santa's Village. I know that it's gotta be out there somewhere.

    Steph, Sorry about the trees. Good luck getting everything cleared so that you can go to the Christmas market in Limoges. [And are you sure that Rors didn't have anything to do with the fallen trees so that his vacation would start a bit early?].

    kbh, The vin chaud was just the way I like it. Not too sweet but flavored with spices. The St. Germain market is much smaller than the one on the Champs Elysees. Either way, you may want to try going during the week if possible. They're incredibly crowded on the weekend. I can't saw that I say anything that I had to buy, but it was fun for the atmosphere.


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