What to Expect: The France/Germany border has spent centuries dancing to either side of the Alsace region. It's currently in the France column, but its Teutonic traditions have blessed the Alsatian capital of Strasbourg with the oldest (437 years and counting) and best Christmas market in France, complete with caroling choirs, Nativity plays, an ice rink, and mulled wine served in boot-shaped mugs. Christkindelsmärik wooden stalls stacked with delicate ornaments and Nativity figurines surround Notre-Dame Cathedral and line Place Broglie. Edible specialties include pretzels, roasted chestnuts, bredele cookies, and Flammekeuche (a "flamed cake" thin pizza of bacon, onions, and crème fraîche).
Look For: Stuffed white storks-the city mascot and an Alsatian symbol of good luck-in the boutiques of "La Petite France," a picturesque, canal-threaded corner of the historic center. These half-timbered houses—which once belonged to millers, tanners, and fishermen—are bathed in a warm yellow glow from garlands of Christmas lights, and the gingerbread bakery does a roaring seasonal trade.
Dates: Late Nov.–Dec. 31