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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…Dec 13 011aThis is a Breton crèche and features Anne de Bretagne in red, as far as I know she wasn’t actually present at the Nativity…Dec 13 017This one is made from figures collected in Spain.

Dec 13 019As the sign said, this one was created by Australians.  We much enjoyed the duck-billed platypus paying its respects.

Dec 13 018A tiny Nativity made from pictures cut out of a religious magazine,

Dec 13 051Some 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.

collage ArchachonaisNot 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,

Dec 13 052and ones ranged along the tops of high walls so that up close all you could see were the bottom of the cherub’s foot,

Dec 13 022crèches from all over the world,Dec 13 016

and arranged along fences.collage fenceIn the church there was this beautiful silhouette

Dec 13 033and a lot of corn is used in Peru:

Dec 13 029aThe whole event was a complete joy but I think my absolute favourites were these two;

Dec 13 039a yurt Nativity and

Dec 13 043the Inuit Nativity, complete with polar bear and seals.