Across France there are different versions of pain d’épices, but honey, rye and wheat flour, and spices (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, powdered ginger, aniseed and coriander) are the basic ingredients. Traditionally it should contain dark buckwheat honey from Brittany, where the recipe originated in the 16th century.
The same ingredients are used to make gingerbread people, houses etc.
There’s a Musée du pain d'épices et de l'art populaire alsacien in Gertwiller, run by pain d’épices-maker LIPS (since 1806!) with a vast range of cookie cutters and other kit required in a traditional Alsatian kitchen.
Image by Frédérique Voisin-Demery