With Christmas fast approaching, it is time to get in the festive mood. What better way to do so by visiting one of the locally organised Christmas markets? The South of France also takes part in this tradition and many “Marchés de Noël” pop-up in our region’s villages and towns. One of the first to be organised is the yearly Cracker Fair at the magical Abbaye de Valmagne.
The Cracker Fair has been held since 2007 and is known as one of the best Christmas markets in the region. This great event yearly takes place around the last weekend of November. It hosts high-quality international artists and artisans who live in the Occitan region in the South of France. I visited last weekend, and with no less than 220 exhibitors, I was very likely to succeed in my Christmas shopping.
Abbaye de Valmagne
By paying an entrance fee of 5 euros (free for children under 12 years old), I could enter the festively decorated Abbaye de Valmagne. This 12th century Cistercian abbey is the perfect location to host the Cracker Fair. Numerous stalls filled with all kinds of products are scattered around the beautifully restored abbey each year. The first part was the outside market, right after the entrance. I really loved looking through all the artistic and culinary creations. From the softest knitwear to fine wines: there was something for everyone. Including, some traditional Christmas crackers!
I continued on my way to the beautifully restored cathedral, which hosted even more stalls. What a great setting for a Christmas market! After a short break for a mulled wine and some carrot cake, I went to see Santa Claus. While I took my picture, I overheard a conversation between Santa and a little boy. The boy was about 7 years old, I guess, the age when kids lose their faith in ‘Père Noël’. Santa asked him if he was on his own. The boy replied that he was here with his parents but just wanted to make sure that Santa had received his wish list. Santa reassured the boy, who left with a big smile on his face. I think that this private encounter with Santa restored the boy’s belief in him for at least another year. It was so sweet to witness!
In the end, I did get some great gifts for Christmas. Mostly for family and friends, but I couldn’t resist the cep popcorn kit from Love la Forêt. So, I bought one gift box for under our Christmas tree as well. As I arrived at the Cracker Fair in the late afternoon, the sun was about to set when I got to the beautiful vaulted cloister and the inner garden. The sky had turned into a dreamy mix of blue and pink hues and the lights started to shimmer. In this fairytale setting, by the fountain, you would believe in Santa Claus again too.