The Experience: When you close your eyes and think of a holiday market, something like Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg—the self-proclaimed Christmas capital—is what you’re likely to envision. The sound of carolers, the smell of buttery pastries and the sight of twinkling lights bring tidings of comfort and joy to those attending the event, which dates back to 1570. Highlights include the Great Christmas Tree in Place Kléber; the skating rink at the foot of the towering, Gothicstyled Strasbourg Cathedral; and, of course, hundreds of quaint wooden stalls lined with gifts and ornaments. It’s not all about consumerism, though. Around the tree, locals leave gifts for those who need them, and the Sharing Village includes dozens of charities collecting donations.
Unique Find: A stuffed white stork is a fun souvenir—in Alsace, they’re a symbol of good luck, particularly if a pair chooses to nest on your rooftop.
Must-Tastes: Try the flammekueche, also known as tarte flambée, which is like a pizza with very thin crust. It’s topped with crème fraîche, sliced onions and bits of bacon. On the sweet side, bredele cookies come in almost endless flavor and shape variations.