A unique holiday tradition on the French Rivera is the hunt for crèches (nativity scenes) in the mountain village of Lucéram. Lucéram was a thriving village in the 15th century as it was a stopping place on one of the salt roads. During the holiday season, the entire village is bursting with holiday spirit. There are 450 crèches throughout the village each year. We didn’t find anywhere near 450, but we did find well over a hundred. Finding the Lucéram crèches is something the entire family will enjoy – it’s a treasure hunt for mangers!
Once arriving in Lucéram, pick up a map at the tourism office or, even better, from the information desk once you get off the bus. We picked up ours in Vence with other holiday pamphlets. You should be able to prepare ahead of time at other area tourist offices as well.
The crèches come is a wide range of variants, from mini to doll-sized, elaborate to plain, handcrafted to store bought and detailed to simplistic.
Since there are 450 crèches throughout the village, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled as you wander. We spotted crèches in doorways, windowsills, tucked into corners and floating on the water in a fountain. They are literally everywhere in the village!
Some of the most elaborate crèches were inside the churches. One was a mini replica of the city! Don’t miss popping inside to see the displays. The frescos are also lovely in the churches, so take time to examine the masterpieces within the church walls as well. The altarpieces are also elaborate and shouldn’t be missed.
Lucy was excited to take charge of the map and lead us on our hunt. K asked if I seriously brought them here to look at mangers. After about 30 minutes, he lost his attitude and started looking for the crèches his sister missed.
The village is charming and would be lovely in the warmer months. I’d like to see the vine wrapped buildings in full bloom. I’m sure the bursts of colors against the cream colored stone would be gorgeous. You could spend 1/2 the day here and still have time for more exploring around Nice, unless you decide to enjoy the hiking trails, in which case your time will vary.
Tips for visiting the Lucéram Crèches:
- Dress warm as it’s colder in the mountains than down in Nice. It’s also shady throughout the village, so you don’t benefit from the warmth of the sun.
- Comfortable walking shoes should also be worn as the village has some steep inclines.
- Pack a lunch and water. There are some cafés, a boulangerie and restaurant if you prefer to eat out, but we enjoy having a picnic by packing sandwiches and fruit.
- Bring the bus schedule so you know the return times.
- The locals were extremely friendly, so don’t hesitate to say “Bonjour” as you walk past.
- Bring coins for donations to the maintenance of the crèches, if desired.
How to get there:
From Nice, take the bus or go by car. There are plenty of parking areas throughout the village.
Take bus 340 (Monday – Saturday) from the bus depot Vauban. The ride is approximately 50 minutes. It’s possible to take the tram to the bus depot. The cost is 1.50€ per person which you will pay in cash on the bus. This is the Alpes Maritime line, so you can’t use the passes purchased from the ticket machines around Nice.
Either get a bus schedule from one of the Lignes d’Azur offices, download and screenshot on your phone or take a picture of the schedule on your phone. The buses don’t run often and you don’t want to be waiting for 2 extra hours before the next bus arrives.
We took the 9:30 bus arriving at 10:20 and took the 12:30 bus back to Nice. If it was warmer, we would have likely spent more time here. It looks like there are nice hiking areas around the village.
Have you seen the Lucéram Crèches? What other Cote d’Azur holiday tips can you share?
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