Indeed, Christmas is calling! Christmas trees, Christmas lights and Christmas markets are appearing in the city step by step to drive us slowly into the Christmas spirit. On the 08th of December, the traditional « Fête des Lumières » has officially launched this magical period offering amazing light shows everywhere in the city. Now, if you want to be unbeatable about Christmas French traditions, to know what’s happening in Lyon for Christmas in general and for international students, or if you are too far away from home to celebrate this event with your family, and looking for a plan: well…this article is for you!

Some French traditions

Each family has its own way to celebrate Christmas. It depends of the region you live in, but whether you are a believer or not, if some children are around, if you have a fireplace to let Santa Claus come in to your home; in fact, many different aspects. But below, we figured out some similiraties.

It has to be mentioned at first! It launches the countdown till the D-day. Through a calendar running from the 1st of December to the 25th, you open every day a small « window » of the calendar to get a candy, a chocolate piece or even a small toy for the children. A good way to make you wait until the big present opening morning!

Christmas meal(s)
In France, we like to share this moment with our friends and family around big big tables full of food. In the 24th evening and on the 25th! This is part of our culture. But… plan to bring your blanket and pillow around the table! Indeed, we can stay in between 4 and 6 hours enjoying smoked salmon, foie gras, oysters, stuffed turkey, or capon just to mention the main ones! Champaign, white and red wine are here to help bringing it down! And of course, to finish the meal, the traditional Yule log and a lot of chocolate!

Christmas tree and presents
Settled at least a week (or a month for the most enthusiastic) before the D-day, and decorated with care! It is also here to welcome the presents. In the night of 24th, everybody let a shoe at the feet of the tree before going to sleep; which will let Santa Claus know where to put the presents! Gifts are opened on the 25th morning while listening Christmas songs!
Good to know!
If you got a Christmas tree and wonder how to get rid of it cleanly, the city of Lyon let you to drop it off in one of the 40 spots divided within the 09 districts of Lyon: it will then be recycled!

Christmas markets in Lyon

The Christmas markets are also part of the Christmas landscape! A bunch of wood tiny houses gathered on a square, where you can find local products, arts and crafts, drink hot wine and eat chestnuts. If you want to soak up in the magical mood and feeling of the Christmas period, you should definitely have a look at them!

The main Christmas market: Carnot square
Opened from the 24th of November to the 24th of December, you will find more than 140 stalls offering local arts and crafts, candles, decorations and even a skating rink! Many workshops also take place: biscuits baking, totebag making and much more!

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Local artists and craftworkers at the Flâneur Guesthouse
On the 15th of  December, our partner the Flâneur Guesthouse organises a Christmas market day: bakery workshop, Christmas cookies baking, local crafts, board games, and music!

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« 360° sur l’art»: Sathonay square
On the 15th and 16th of December, designers and artists from the “Pentes de la Croix Rousse” (1st district) will be gathered on the Sathonay square. A great way to bring home a true local gift!

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International students and Christmas

As a popular and very important event, Christmas is for sure a great way to have a real intercultural feeling. Each country, and even region, have their own traditions. Studying abroad also means being far away from home and probably in search of this special connections surrounding the period. But no panic! Several events had been designed for international students.

Outings with CosmoLyon
Our partner ESN CosmoLyon regularly organizes events for international students, check out their Facebook page for coming Christmas events!

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Be invited in a French family for the D-Day
If you are too far away from home and couldn’t go back for Christmas holidays, the Lyon International association offers to spend Christmas in a French family. You just have to fill in the form on their website before the 15th of December, and specify that you wish to be invited for the christmas evening.


Any question ? Please don’t hesitate to contact me on Whats App, I will be delighted to answer you!

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