from November 18, 2017 to January 14, 2018.
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.
Open every day except Tuesday
The city of Arles is proud to have one of the most beautiful museums of "Santons de Provence" : the conservatoire du Santon provençal, located opposite the Roman Arena.
This conservatoire was born thanks to Henri Vezolles, a master in santon making, whoses santons made of four earths, are wellknwn by amateurs.
Henri Vezolles is helped by people who are very keen on this popular art and who lent their most rare santons.
In an 18th century house, you will find a 160 m2 exhibition of all the history of provençal santons.
Santons made by "Meilleurs ouvriers de France" are presented among the 2000 santons manufactured by over 100 santonniers of the 19th, 20th and 21th century. That will allow you to have a better vision of this popular art of our Provençal Christmases.
You can also enjoy our thematic exhibitions, every months.
14, rond-point des arènes.
Entrance : standard rate : 3,50€ - Reduced rate : 2€
“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.