December 22, 2010

Le Marché de Noël de Lille

Although I am home for Christmas this year, I still wanted a French Christmas experience. FBF and I decided to go on a date to the Marché de Noël. While this is definitely not something you can find in America, I’m not sure how authentically French this experience is for a variety of reasons.

The first reason being that while I was in Amsterdam, my friends and I went to “Winterland,” which was basically like a Dutch Marché de Noël. I have also seen Marchés de Noël in Belgium, but while this is basically an extension of France, I feel like it counts less in ruining the Frenchness of the whole experience.

Amsterdam's Winterland

The second one being that FBF hasn’t been to the Marché de Noël, in Lille or otherwise, since he was like 8. And even then, he told me that they didn’t really do the Marché like we did, meaning they didn’t look at all the booths, eat all the food, and experience the attractions. This leads me to believe that he'd actually never been before, as what else is there to do at the Marché de Noël except these things?

Le Marché de Noël de Lille

There were all kinds of booths, from Santa Hats and ornaments to metal robot sculptures and puzzle games (none of which FBF and I could figure out, including the ones intended for 8 year olds), but I saved my money for all things edible.

We sampled all sorts of bad for you delicious Christmas foods. I had a gauffre, which is like a Belgian waffle, except that they originate from le nord. Then FBF and I shared 13 croustillons, which are basically like fried doughnut holes but better and come from the Netherlands. To help us swallow all this fried food down, we partook in another French Christmas tradition, vin chaud.

Le Vin Chaud.

Vin chaud is not my favorite drink on the planet, and if it wasn’t part of the Christmas theme, I don’t think I would ever drink it. However, there is something magical about having a hot glass of spiced wine in your gloved hands while walking around admiring the general holiday splendor that lets you know it really is Christmas time.

To finish off this feeding frenzy, FBF and I headed over to the booth called Soupe à la Ferme (Soup from the Farm). I had an amazing cup of zucchini soup, complete with melted cheese on top and some sort of herb bread. FBF had carrot soup, which while I was not a fan, he enjoyed immensely.

After stuffing our faces, we thought it would be ever so romantic for us to ride le grand roue (the giant Ferris wheel). We were told from La Soeur that the view from the top is beautiful, but extremely cold. We dressed accordingly.

Le Grand Roue

So we pay, get weird token things, and wait in line for a couple of minutes before it’s our turn. The man takes our tokens, and let’s us choose one of four little carriages. Now this is unlike any Ferris wheel seating area I have ever seen. Instead of being for two people, it could hold 6 adults, and instead of facing forward, it was a circle with a pole in the middle holding it up to the wheel.

Because this was supposed to be a romantic date, FBF and I sat on the same side, of course. This was a mistake. As soon as we were sky-bound, the carriage started leaning dangerously due to our combined weight on just one side. This was doubly dangerous as there was not really any protective fencing, and it would not have been hard to tumble out. To make matters worse, there was no safety restraint of any kind. We were not buckled in.

FBF and I, while enjoying the view, were not enjoying a romantic, quite moment alone in the sky, because j'avais peur (I was scared). Instead of holding on to my boyfriend, I had my arms wrapped around the middle pole, trying desperately not to fall off.

On about our third turn around the wheel, I realized that something this sketchy could only happen in France. We weren’t even required to sign release forms in order to ride on this obvious death trap.

While I greatly enjoyed the Marché de Noël overall, I’m not so sure I’ll be riding le grand roue next Christmas.


  1. I love how the romantic ride turned into the ride of death! Classic Christmas tale you can tell from now own :-)

    And I'm not a fan of vin chaud either. It's kinds gross. I like my wine au natural... straight from the bottle to my glass

  2. The Ferris wheel was horrifying! Even FBF admitted he was scared. I also agree about the wine. Definitely better fresh from the bottle!

  3. Si délicieux ces croustillons hollandais... Et passage obligé lors du marché de Noël. Mais tu sais que tu peux en manger toute l'année à Lille. Bisous et joyeux Noël chez toi.

  4. Le marché de Noel was originally alsacian - and it was making sense as it has a Germanic design. Marché de Noel = Strasbourg. Then as it was working, "they" decided it could be good as well for any other town in France. Even Nice or Marseille. And now it seems strange and inadequate. It's just another pre-Christmas business.

  5. nice post dear blogger


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