A fairy-like Christmas at the Féeries de Noël in Aniane


Yearly, the little village of Aniane near Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert transforms into a Christmas fairytale. During the Féeries de Noël, the Chapel of Pénitents hosts the largest life-sized nativity scene in France, covering more than 400m². Of course, you can also take your picture with Santa Claus in the twinkling decorated covered market, visit the Christmas market on one of the Sundays in December, or marvel at the light show on the weekend. Enough activities to get the jingle bells rocking!

Féeries de Noël

As I wanted to get the full Christmas experience, I went to the Féeries de Noël in Aniane on a quiet Thursday afternoon. I headed for the nativity scene in the Chapel of Pénitents first. And, after paying a symbolic entrance fee of 2 euros (kids under 12 years old are free), I stepped into a completely different world. The crèche is entirely set up by volunteers. They spend hundreds of hours over several months creating these detailed and magical decorations.

Féeries de Noël Aniane

Provençal folklore

Inside the chapel, I discovered scenes showing several Provençal folklore settings that don’t necessarily have anything to do with Christmas. Besides the traditional manger scene, I also spotted a Catalan miller, men and women in traditional costumes, and a fortune teller, for example. There also is a shop, where you can admire a huge collection of santons, or ‘little saints’. These small terracotta figurines represent traditional Provençal life.

Féeries de Noël Aniane


After visiting the creche, I went to the adjacent covered market to immerse myself in the Féeries de Noël even more. Like the chapel, the covered market Les Halles transforms into Santa Claus’ Village. Keep in mind that the queues can be long on the weekends. Luckily, I didn’t need to wait in line as I went on a weekday. At Les Halles I also had to pay an entrance fee of 2 euros (kids under 12 years old are free) to enter the overly kitschy illuminated Santa Claus’ village. The covered market showed wintry and Christmassy scenes that shimmered all over with blue light. Our kids used to love it when they were little.

Féeries de Noël Aniane

Enchanted Forest

Besides the nativity scene and Santa Claus’ Village, I also went to see the ‘Enchanted Forest’. It was a bit deserted during the week, but there’s lots of fun for the kids at the weekends. Disney princesses grace the site, and there are plenty of selfie and family photo opportunities. And if you’re into Christmas markets, I suggest you go on a Sunday in December. These Christmas markets are one of the most significant holiday events in the Hérault Valley. You will find lots of stalls selling all kinds of locally crafted gifts and winter products. Together with the fireworks and Christmas parade, the Féeries de Noël in Aniane will bring magic into your heart.

Féeries de Noël Aniane
TO SEE - Celebrations
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