Not only is Strasbourg’s main Christmas market the largest in France, with over 300 wooden chalets and a tree just shy of 100 feet (30.5 meters) tall, it’s also the oldest, appearing on records as early as 1570, when it was called Christkindelmärik, or the market of Baby Jesus. The chocolate-box town Colmar, where Desvernois also runs tours, regularly tops lists for having the most picturesque Christmas market—and being the most picturesque town—in the country.
Much of the produce sold at the market comes from Alsace, a region that changed hands between France and Germany multiple times before World War II. Mulled wine, crémant (sparkling wine), and gingerbread are just some of the culinary delights, along with handmade crafts—most notably, the Christmas bauble.
“During the 19th century, Alsace was hit by drought,” explains Desvernois. “Typically locals had decorated their Christmas trees with apples, but with food scarce, local craftsmen had the idea of blowing balls of glass to create decorations instead. The Christmas bauble was born!”