Seven Santon Houses That Cultivate Their Know-How


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Seven Santon Houses That Cultivate Their Know-How

Seven Santon Houses That Cultivate Their Know-How. The word santon means “Little Saint” in the Provençal language and designates these small figurines moulded in clay, costumed or painted, which traditionally decorate Christmas cribs. Seven Santon Houses That Cultivate Their Know-How. The santons can represent religious scenes such as the Nativity, or locations of peasant life and trades of yesteryear, in compositions with authentic decorations. Seven Santon Houses That Cultivate Their Know-How.
Initially created by the inhabitants who were deprived during the Revolution of admiring the cribs in the churches, the santons are artisanal specialities of Provence. If there are chansonniers in other regions such as Haute-Savoie or Brittany, the most famous are Provençal. Here is a selection of santon houses where we cultivate this traditional know-how in the rules of the art!

The Santons Richard in Aix-en-Provence
The Richard house has been in existence for about fifty years. Created in 1968 in Aix-en-Provence, it is very famous among collectors of santons. It manufactures collections of three different sizes (4, 7, and 9 cm) and nativity scenes representing the biblical Nativity, the Provencal village, and scenes of village life such as the card game and bowls game. Or even the picking of lavender. The representation of children as “The little schoolchildren” is one of the specialities of the Santons Richard, and their centrepiece is “The woman with olives on a ladder.”


Each year, the chansonniers work on the creation of new casts to offer original pieces. Among the latest articles of Santons Richard, we find “The little newspaper seller,” “The innkeeper,” “The cheese seller,” or “The prior.” To get them, you can come to the store, order on the website, or go to their two resellers: La Maison du Père Noël in Cuesme in Belgium, or even at the Soubirous store in Lourdes.


How did the tradition of the Christmas crib come about?

The Maryse Di Landro house and its santon museum.Christmas Crib
Didier Coulomb took over the family business from his aunt, created in 1976 in Aubagne. The speciality of the Di Landro house is to make santons, on the one hand entirely handmade, but above all dressed. Everything is done on-site, including the costumes: “I make the moulds, then from these, we can reproduce the figurines. They are first cooked, then painted and finally from patterns, my mom sews the costumes”. The Provencal santon is traditionally made from clay. In Italy, on the other hand, there are santons made of plaster.

Unmolding a santon

The Nativity is one of the most requested pieces during the Christmas period. Alongside characters in the manger such as the infant Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and the Three Wise Men, many more contemporary Provencal figures are also represented as the firefighters. or the mayor. Visitors can come to the shop on-site or find Di Landro santons at the traditional santons fair in Marseille to get a hold of them. Next to the workshop, visitors can also discover the Santon Museum, where more than 300 unique pieces are displayed. Part of the museum is devoted to objects and clothing from the 19th century.

What are the essential characters of the Christmas crib?

The Escoffier house in Aubagne
Escoffier is one of the most famous santon houses. Initially based in Marseille, the family business then moved to Aubagne to make traditional santons since 1970. A profession of passion for Audrey Escoffier, head of the house, offers this year new products such as “The nanny with her children” and “The stork with the baby.”

“For next year, we are researching the figure of the photographer from the 1800s,” she explains. “There isn’t one piece that I appreciate more than another, and I think I love them all. They all have a story, and it’s my family who created them,” she says.

Provencal chapel

. Their prices vary between 10 and 20 euros depending on their sizes. At Escoffier, the santons were initially dressed, but now they are painted. Available in many shops in France, one cannot find these items at Maison Georges Thuilier in Paris, which specializes in religious objects, at the La Procure bookstore, near the Saint-Sulpice church, or in the bookstores at Au Immaculate Heart of Mary and Biblia.

How to make your own Christmas crib?

Paul Garrel in Rocbaron in the Var
Paul Garrel manufactures and sells santons in the most common format (7 cm) for 8 euros, specializing in nursery accessories. They can be larger, sometimes up to 20 centimetres, but get too big for small constructions like nurseries and reconstructed villages. He is one of the last chansonniers who made everything in clay.

The Nativity

Among its masterpieces, we find classics such as the stable, the Nativity, and many trades such as the baker or the grocer. Full-size this time, the craftsman also made more than 40 different models of village houses and 25 square meters cribs. You can buy his productions directly from his workshop in Rocbaron or by ordering on his site. “I am also present at a dozen santon fairs in the Var, the Alpes-Maritimes, the Hérault, and the Bouches-du-Rhône, until the end of December,” he explains.


Christmas crib: the history of the santons of Provence

The santons Marcel Carbonel
The family business has existed for four generations in Marseille and sells its santons in France and abroad at nearly 300 resellers. One of the most emblematic figurines is “l’Arlésienne.” As for the novelty of this year, it is the “Apothecary” (7 cm), on sale for 18 euros.

Each piece is unique and authenticated by a signature on its clay base. Be careful not to confuse the Marcel Carbonel house, specializing in santons painted in gouache, with Claude Carbonel santons, from the same family, which makes dressed santons.

The santons of Sainte-Barbe in Brittany

Céline de la Fouchardière had the idea of ?? creating santons drawing on Breton traditions. he made her figurines for 11 years in her workshop in Kerity Paimpol, near the Abbaye Beauport. Her specialities are little washerwomen, ladies with Tregor headdresses, fishermen, biniou players, and pardons. The crepe maker is by far its flagship product. Everything is handmade from a piece of earth, otherwise called “clay columbine,” using the same manufacturing technique as Provence. “For painting, I also make my colours,” she explains.

Breton fishermen

Its novelties this year are “the washerwomen” who once washed the laundry in the washhouse, or even “The lovers under an umbrella.” The price of these parts varies between 10 and 20 euros. You can buy them at his workshop (6 chemin des écureuils 22500 Kerity Paimpol), at the TY Hom’art associative store located in Paimpol, as well as at the La Procure bookstore in Vannes.


Santon Savoyard near Annecy
Based in her workshop in Chavanod, between Annecy and Aix-les-Bains, Christine Cerise has been a santonnière since 1986. She is the only santon maker in her region. At Santon Savoyard, there is a range of religious articles in the crèche: Joseph, Marie, the child, the donkey, the ox, the primary shepherds, and their dromedaries. These costumed figurines come in two different sizes: 9 and 25 centimetres.

Representing the Savoyard santon on its own, it produces other characters typical of the region such as “The mule driver of the route des tomes,” which once crossed mountain passes, “The alpine hunter,” or even “The horn bell ringer. Alpes “.Christine Cerise can also create personalized santons representing a person’s face from a photo.


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