My First Parisian Christmas Market

You know how you picture Paris? The sprawling parks and grand boulevards, the charming mansard roofs and Art Deco metro signs? Well La Defense, Paris’ financial district, looks nothing like that. Okay, maybe the metro sign still looks like that.

To be honest, I didn’t like La Defense at all. But the Christmas market certainly cheered up its bleak concrete vistas.

La Defense

Paris Christmas Market

Paris Christmas Market

I headed to La Defense to meet one of my favorite travel bloggers, Edna from Expat Edna. We clicked right away, and it seems like I’ve made my first real non-French or Spanish friend in Paris.
Expat Edna

Then we tried the traditional Christmas market accompaniment, mulled wine. In contrast, mulled wine and I didn’t click. Mulled wine, or vin chaud, kind of tastes like you threw a ball of potpurri into a pot of boiling red wine.

Mulled Wine

Luckily there was raclette to get the taste of hot merlot/Britney Spears Curious out of my mouth. For those who don’t know, raclette is a cheese as well as a dish. It’s essentially half of wheel of cheese awkwardly propped up and slowly tortured by a flaming copper rod. The cheese then melts and is scraped off and added to sandwiches or potatoes.


We had it on a sandwich and it was so delicious. And heart-healthy, I may add.


Paris Christmas Market

Paris Christmas Market

I am officially turning into a negative nancy over here, or maybe the Grinch, but the Christmas market seemed rather… forced. Or maybe kitsch is the word. Did you see that glittery red bear? I’m hoping the market in Germany are a little less Epcot-like.

Paris Christmas Market

La Defense does boast a great view of the Arc de Triomphe, which directly mirrors the La Defense arch (the two arches are connected by the Champs-Élysées). Seeing them together was an interesting juxtaposition of old and new.

La Defense

La Defense

La Defense

So wins of the day? Meeting a very cool travel blogger and eating a cheese sandwich. Losses? Everything else. But,as the saying goes, you win some, you lose some. And if you lose a lot then you should probably eat raclette.

Have you ever visited a Christmas Market in Paris? What did you think?

Psst! My Bedbunks and Backpacks interview is now live! Take a look if you’re feeling curious.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

19 thoughts on “My First Parisian Christmas Market”

  1. so cool you met edna ;) she is one of my favs too.

    i definitely think you’ll appreciate christmas markets more once you’re in germany. i lived in germany for 6 years and have spent the rest of my life obsessing over the markets this time of year. they are much more nostalgic and charismatic in germany and some other places…i think your trip there will show you that pretty easily ;)

    and im obsessed w/ glühwein!!! i seriously cant get enough of it haha

    • Ah I can’t wait for Germany! I leave tomorrow and I SO need a vacation from my job/life. By the way, how are you so young and have lived in so many places? :P What a life you live, I’m envious!

    • have a super safe trip ;)

      i lived in europe for my dads job for 6 years as a kid. it was amazing! and i wish i was young…im 29 haha!

      cant wait to hear a possibly changed opinion about mulled wine!

    • Oh how cool, I always wished my parents had exposed me to an expat lifestyle as a child. And I totally thought you were 23 at most by the way :)

  2. Yay for meeting like-minded people! Regarding mulled wine, it’s hit or miss. I have had good mulled wine and bad mulled wine. Had raclette when I was in Switzerland a few years ago and thought it was soooooooo good.

    • I’m definitely going to give mulled wine another shot in Germany this weekend. And yes, raclette is amaaaazing, I want to put it on everything!

  3. Oh, I love raclette! It’s a traditional New Year’s Eve dish here – but the best one I ever had was in Switzerland!
    I’m sorry you and mulled wine didn’t click. However my friend in Paris says that it does taste strangely artificial in comparison to the German one – so there’s still is a chance you’ll like it in Germany!

  4. Oh no! Can’t believe you are not a fan of the mulled wine! I’m currently drinking a mug full a night! I can’t get enough of the stuff! Still, I think Julika probably has a point – the vin chaud I tried definitely tasted different and a bit more flowery than the gluhwien, so you should give it another whirl in Germany.

    Your photos are great though, but I don’t think that particular market looks traditional enough for me! I’ll be looking forward to seeing what your thoughts are on the German markets – I’m off to Munich myself in a couple of weeks.

    • Oh nice! Have fun in Munich, it’s a great city and I can’t even imagine how cute it would look in winter. And that market you went to in Manchester looks darling, apparently England has great Christmas markets as well!

  5. What a bizarre Christmas market in such a modern district. So sorry to hear you didn’t like the hot wine :-( I tried some in Vienna over Christmas a few years ago and LOVED it. Maybe Germany will be better!

    • I’m definitely going to give it another shot! I had fantasized about it for so long that it was a bit of a let-down… maybe that was the problem, haha.

    • I’m hopefully going to Morocco in a few months so I’m especially excited to poke around the old souks there! You really can find some amazing things.

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