Discover Traditions

The figurines were born in Provence! Each year the fair celebrates this santoniiers ancestral know-how and typically Provençal.

The santonnier exhibition

from November 19, 2016 to January 15, 2017.

Each year between mid-November and mid-January the Santon-makers’ Exhibition exposes the most beautiful creations of craftsmen from all over Provence, but also from foreign countries. 

The Exhibition was created in 1958. The santons are presented in the rooms of Saint Trophime’s cloisters, and attract numerous visitors each year. Along side classical manger scenes can be seen contemporary creations, made from all different sorts of materials.

The next “Santonniers” Exhibition will take place from November 19, 2016 to January 15, 2017. 

Santons and the Christmas manger scene

“Santons”, in Provençal “Santoun” (little saint), are small figurines made of clay, hand-crafted with loving care. 
They can be found in the Christmas manger scenes where they are part of our Provençal traditions and reflect the life of the inhabitants and families of Provence. At the beginning, the family crèche represented only the characters of the Nativity : Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and the three Kings. 
To create their santons, the “santonniers” (santon-makers) of Provenceare also inspired by the old traditional activities of the working men and women of Marseilles, or the characters that appear in Christmas plays called “Pastorales”. 
But each craftsman fine-tunes his little statues with special attention to the details and postures. The work of each santon-maker can be recognized by these minute details, making his santons different from all others.

Meet the santon-makers of Arles : 
Evelyne Ricord : sculptor, santon-creator, rewarded with the title “Best Craftsman of France” in the category “clay santons”. 
6, rue du Refuge – 13200 Arles – 06 24 61 71 69 – By appointment only.

Henri Vezolles Santons : hand-made “detached” statuettes in 2, 3 or 4 different colours of clay, natural or dyed with oxides. Decorative details are done with “barbotine” (clay-on-clay diluted in water). 
14, Rond-point des Arènes – 13200 Arles – 06 80 34 27 77.