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Oingt: Village of the One Hundred Mangers

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Oingt. Don’t even try to pronounce it. If you must, try saying ‘wham’ but stop before the M.

It is a tiny French Beaujolais village perched high on a hill in the middle of what is called the Pierres Dorées, or Golden Stones. Here’s why:

Beaujolais village of Oingt

When the sun hits a certain way, Oingt turns golden

Oingt village on a December night

Even at night the stones have a golden hue

Like many French villages, Oingt has its own particular Christmas tradition: the crèche collection. Here, villagers start early to prepare small manger scenes they place in shop windows, in corners, on windowsills, in nooks, on walls. During the day they are harder to spot but at night, the lights turn on and you can play ‘spot the manger’. How many can you find?

This is just the partial result of a one-hour hunt.

Oingt village mangers

In each corner and on every street, villagers contribute a small manger, or crèche, to the Christmas festivities

Nativity scene in Oingt, Rhone-Alpes

Some villagers go for variety…

Colorful creche in Oingt, France

…and others go for lights.

The village is also a magnet for wine-lovers, located as it is in the heart of the Beaujolais region. Several wine shops offer tastings and you can also walk away with local food, especially the famous rosette of Lyon, a type of salami. Refreshments for some exhausting exploration…

Visiting the village of Oingt in the Beaujolais with my dogs

Tracking all those mangers can be exhausting, so I had help (my dogs, Merlin on the left and Beowulf on the right)

France is an old country and many traditions date back centuries. Not this one. It began around 2004 but has caught on and at nightfall, throughout December and early January, the procession of cars climbing the hill to Oingt is steady.

Things every Woman on the Road should know

  • Oingt belongs to the Plus Beaux Villages de France, a collection of 156 of France’s most beautiful villages.
  • This is the perfect evening visit if you happen to be visiting the Beaujolais area during the holidays.
  • It is a lovely village – just watch where you walk because the occasional car will make its way along the tiny streets. This is not a pedestrian-only village.
  • The village has a wine cellar, or caveau, where you’ll find local Beaujolais wine as well as Beaujolais Nouveau when it’s in season (around mid-November).

Photos by Anne Sterck.

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