Castlemoron d’Albret, a village not far from us has two claims to fame. The first is that it is literally the smallest commune in France – its footprint is a mere 3.6 hectares (approx 8.4 acres) – in other words it’s about the same size as the Place Charles de Gaulle which has the Arc de Triomphe in it. France’s smallest commune also happens to be in France’s largest département, the Gironde.
Castlemron’s other claim is that it is the Crèche Capital of the world. So the Sud-Ouest, the local paper, says anyway and it has to be admitted that the Sud-Ouest is fond of hyperbole (and of using 10 words when one would do). Whether or not it’s actually true the promise of nearly 200 crèches set up around the village was quite enough to prompt us to go.
There were crèches everywhere, many of them were in the windows of houses…This is a Breton crèche and features Anne de Bretagne in red, as far as I know she wasn’t actually present at the Nativity…This one is made from figures collected in Spain.
As the sign said, this one was created by Australians. We much enjoyed the duck-billed platypus paying its respects.
A tiny Nativity made from pictures cut out of a religious magazine,
Some were beautifully simple as in the one above; others were so detailed, like this crèche Arcachonais below – Arcachon is the seaside resort of choice for smart Bordelais and also prides itself on its oysters.
Not only are the figurines settling down to huitres de Noel, if you look closely you can see the baby Jesus is being presented with a plate of oysters too.
In the Basque crèche he was being given a basket of peppers, presumably Piment d’Espelette (very hot) which isn’t normally foodstuff thought suitable for babies!
There were suspended Nativity scenes,
and ones ranged along the tops of high walls so that up close all you could see were the bottom of the cherub’s foot,
crèches from all over the world,
and arranged along fences.In the church there was this beautiful silhouette
and a lot of corn is used in Peru:
The whole event was a complete joy but I think my absolute favourites were these two;
Great! Can a commune really be so small? They make up for it with ingenuity, though.