By Craig Jones
A new French market hopes to bring a little ‘je ne sais quoi’ to Manchester this Christmas.
The French stalls, located on King Street, are new additions to Manchester’s famous Christmas markets and it is hoped they will become as popular as the city’s other seasonal attractions.
The boutiques are sure to appeal to the taste buds selling crepes, wines and cocktails alongside French soups and cassoulet.
Councillor Pat Karney, city-centre spokesman, said: “We are all very excited about the new French market which is our big new addition for this Christmas. The stalls are sure to be popular and add even more continental flavour to our already popular Christmas markets.”
Stall owners have expressed excitement at the launch of the new French market and hope it’ll become a permanent fixture for years to come.
Delphin Miufin, 25, who runs an arts and craft stall with her boyfriend, said: “I think this is a great idea welcoming French stalls to Manchester’s market scene. We’ve been welcomed beautifully by the people of the city and I hope this warmth continues.
“When my friend, who is involved in organising the festivities in Manchester, offered us the chance to come over here from Provence we jumped at what is a great opportunity.”
Miss Miufin explained that many stall owners have taken a big gamble in coming over to England and setting up home for the winter.
She said: “Obviously it’s really expensive trying to establish yourself in a new country but we just wanted to give it a go.”
Miss Miufin joked: “I’m learning English pretty well so far. My boyfriend on the other hand, is a different matter.”
The continental markets originally started in St Ann’s Square 12 years ago and have become a firm favourite in the city over the festive period.
So much so that this year they’ll be eight different market sites across the city, including Albert Square, Brazennose Street and Exchange Street among others.
Council bosses say that more than 1.3m people visited the markets last year – generating £40m.
This figure was calculated by taking into account accommodation, actual visitor spend and employment generated by the markets.
Coun Karney said: “People come from far and wide to visit our Christmas markets and the figures speak for themselves.
“They keep business booming in the city and are always a big hit with shoppers who love everything they have to offer.
“The markets generate a sense of local pride and strengthen Manchester’s identity.”
Manchester’s Christmas markets will be located across the city till December 21 and stalls will be open from 10am till 8pm every week day.
At most markets, food and drink, will still be served until 9pm.
Mr Karney also recommended that once revellers have enjoyed all the culture that the markets have to offer they should head down to the new ice-skating rink, Let’s Skate, which has been erected in the Spinningfields complex, Hardman Street.
For the last five years Manchester has had its own ice skating rink put up over Christmas and this year it’ll be based in a new location in Spinningfields, located in the middle of The Avenue shopping district.
The cast of television show, Waterloo Road, opened Let’s Skate on Wednesday November 17 showing their Torvill and Dean skills out on the ice.
Manager of Let’s Skate Tony Poynton said: “The ice skating rink brings a fantastic festive feeling to the city, at a time when people are looking for something to do around Christmas this is a fantastic group activity.
“Many people come here have fun and then go over to the markets to feast on the fine European cuisine.
“This is a collective effort and we are really keen to work together with all Manchester’s attractions to help create an atmosphere that will rival the festive experience of big cities like New York, Paris and Rome.
“There’s a long way to go but the signs are looking very promising.”
Let’s Skate will be located in the Spinningfields complex till Monday January 3, admission, is priced at £8.50 adults, £6 for children under 12 and family tickets cost £22.
For more information visit www.spinningfieldsicerink.com.