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Paris France Christmas Markets Holidays

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Traditional or tacky, France’s Christmas markets are open

The Christmas market in Paris attracts up to 15 million visitors from around the world every year. This year, it is held at the Tuileries garden near the Louvre. RFI/Mike Woods

Christmas markets opened across France over the weekend. Based on traditions in neighbouring Germany, the French versions are sometimes criticised for being too commercial. The market in Paris has returned after those criticisms played out with city officials.

The Christmas market in Paris is the most visited in the country, generally attracting between 13 and 15 million visitors per season.

For the first time, the market is in the Tuileries gardens next to the Louvre museum, a short distance from the Champs-Elysees Avenue that it graced from 2010 to 2016.

Like those found in Germany, and in German-influenced towns in eastern France, warm drinks and children’s activities create a convivial and neighbourly atmosphere.

The Paris market also comes with a 50-metre Ferris wheel and other carnival attractions, as well as a skating rink and some 120 wooden stands, many offering handicrafts of local artisans.

Disagreements over 'mediocre quality'

The market is resuming after a year’s absence.

City officials pulled the plug on the 2017 edition, citing “the mediocre quality of the events and products”.

“We found out just a short time in advance, so it was very difficult to find other places to show our works,” says Gaëlle Petlak, a creator of plaster sculptures who helped organise the Tuileries edition.

Petlak says she does not understand the logic of the city’s argument.

“For seven years [on the Champs-Elysées], we had workshops with totally hand-made products, so we were really surprised,” she says.

“I think it’s a political problem, and we don’t know the real reason,” she continues. “The market is just a pretext.