The Crèche Route in Vaucluse
An important moment in Provence is when the crèche, or nativity scene, is set up each year, often in the living room near the Christmas tree. It is brought to life by the “santons”, the little painted clay nativity figurines, which embody familiar religious figures, ordinary people like artisans (the baker, miller, fisherman, shepherd…). The Provençal crèche provides a rich, authentic portrait of the village of yesteryear. You can see the best ones on the crèche route in Vaucluse!
Avignon and surroundings
Let’s start our tour of the must-see crèches in Vaucluse in the City of the Popes. The main crèche in the town will be found in the Les Célestins church, in the bustling Les Corps-Saints quarter.
It represents a full landscape of Provence laid out over 54m², placing the village and those who live there at the centre of a massif of garrigues and vines.
Not far from Avignon a wonderful crèche is set up in Saint-Saturnin-lès-Avignon each year. In addition to the little river that runs through the village, the cardboard and wax santons come to life in this living display.
The Palais du Roure in Avignon, a museum of Provençale traditions and art that displays its santons at Christmas time.
With villages that look like the decor of a crèche, the Ventoux houses wonderful creations like those at Séguret, Beaumes-de-Venise or even in the Ventoux Provence Tourist Office in Carpentras, which displays its crèche from November to February.
Worth the detour
In December, the Tourist Office organises guided tours to see the crèches displayed by towns and villages around Carpentras. See the Tourist Office for more information www.ventouxprovence.fr
In the Luberon
The route visiting the crèches in Luberon sets out from the Hôtel d’Agar in Cavaillon, which displays a collection of more than 250 Provençal crèche figurines, some of which are human-size, through its “cabinet of curiosities”.
In Grambois, the santons take on the features of its residents.
In La Bastide-des-Jourdans, more than 150 santons are displayed in a dry-stone decor covering 50m².