A real historical gem: the nativity scene in Port Launay ( Brittany- France)

 Every year at Xmas time, one of my favourite – I like the “u” even if the WordPress  portal insists on my writing “favorite” the American way 😉 –   activities is to pay a visit to Nativity scenes around.

They are all different and specific. They reveal the local people’s craftsmanship and creativity.

The Nativity scene below is located in Port Launay , a very small port on the river Aulne, on the canal which used to link Brest to Nantes.


The characters represented here have been  listed as cultural national heritage since 2000. The dolls are about 60 cm high, dressed up in local XIXth century outfits ( 1853). These small tailors’ dummies were restored in 2006: their wooden bodies filled up with sawdust were attacked by insects and clothes were becoming rags. Restoring them took about a year and cost 10.000 € shared by the the French minister of culture, the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs and the local Town Hall. The result is striking.

Maybe one day it will be listed in the Unesco intangible heritage as ” a repository of cultural diversity and creative expression.” Who knows? 🙂 It is a historical gem as the dolls are wearing the XIXth  clothes which were fashionable then among the well-off farmers but also among the local landed gentry. It is a historical testimony.

A lot of work will  still have to be done on this nativity scene though. It can be made more spectacular with professional lights, set in the middle of the church so people can walk around the scene … the doll hands will have to be restored ( right now they aren’t)… etc … and lots of patience and determination will be needed along with professional expertise in staging . Right now, it is still run by dedicated volunteers.

It is nevertheless a stunning nativity scene.