Nice Christmas Market
European Trips - Winter 2023

Nice Christmas Market

The Christmas market in Nice, France is unlike any other I had been to. Why? Because of the locale along the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France. We had sun, palm trees and delicious food. Read on for more about the Christmas market in Nice.

Location

There’s really only one Christmas market in Nice and it’s located in the park Jardin Albert 1er & Place Massena, a historic square. We first visited the market at night and it was pretty busy.

Nice Christmas Market at Night, Dec. 2023
Nice Christmas Market at Night, Dec. 2023

What really surprised me was the security. You had to pass through metal detectors before entering. Nice was victim of a terrorist attack in 2016 when a cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais, but security at a Christmas market wasn’t something we had seen before.

Nice Christmas Market at Night
Nice Christmas Market at Night

In the picture below, you may notice a kneeling figure high on a pole. It’s an art installation along Place Massena that was designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa. There are seven figures total and they represent the seven continents. At night, they are illuminated in different, changing colors.

Nice Christmas Market, Place Masséna
Nice Christmas Market, Place Masséna

Place Massena

On the other side of Place Masséna is a large fountain called the “Fontaine du Soleil”, the Sun Fountain.

La Fontaine du Soleil
La Fontaine du Soleil

There are 5 bronze sculptures in the basin and in the center stands an impressive marble Apollo statue. Long story short, some conservative inhabitants of the city thought that his “manhood” was too large and college students took to decorating it as a prank.

In an effort to calm the controversy, the sculptor took a hammer and chisel to his creation to reduce the size of the offending member, now some older ladies think it’s too small.

La Fontaine du Soleil
La Fontaine du Soleil

The Catholic women’s “League of Feminine Virtue” were still not pleased about a nude statue. They gained enough support that in the 1970s the fountain was dismantled. Finally in 2011, Apollo was reinstated to his rightful position at the center of the fountain in Place Massena.

Related: More on our visit to Nice in December

The Market

The Christmas market in Nice is what you would expect. A big ferris wheel, a Christmas pyramid, vendors and food. It is suggested that the Christmas pyramid is a predecessor of the Christmas tree. Instead of branches it is a kind of carousel with several levels, some depicting Christian motifs.

Nice Christmas Market
Nice Christmas Market

I cannot stress how beautiful the Christmas Market in Nice was. It helped that the day we spent the most time walking around was a beautiful, sunny day.

Julie and Nik at the Nice Christmas Market
Julie and Nik at the Christmas Market in Nice

Food-wise, the market had all the usuals. Different beer and drink options. Raclette sandwiches and even some barbecue. We picked up a couple of pretzels to take with us on the train ride we would be taking the next day.

Raclette Stand at the Christmas Market in Nice
Raclette Stand at the Christmas Market in Nice

I’m admittedly not a fan of strong and smelly cheeses, particularly  Swiss and Blue, so it’s funny that I like Raclette, a Swiss type of cheese that’s heated and scraped off onto bread or potatoes. The sandwich I had at this market was one of the best I have ever had. No picture of it because I ate it too quickly.

Raclette
Raclette

Overall, Nice has become one of my favorite European cities. I am so glad we visited and experienced the Christmas market in Nice – so different from any other that we’ve been to before.

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