The figures used in the creche are called santons, they became popular in the 18th century and are made from local clay which is then hand painted - the larger ones are dressed in 18th century clothes. They not only depict the usual nativity characters but also people from every walk of life in Provence and their animals. Families often have their own creche which they display in their home every Christmas - gradually adding a figure or two every year purchased from the popular santon fairs held locally.
|Feeding the Chickens|
|Tending the Crops|
|Chatting in a Sheltered Spot|
You can buy santons at local fairs from the end of November to the end of December - there is an annual fair in the Place Jeanne d'Arc (near La Rotonde) in Aix en Provence, France.
Santons Cavasse, Venelles (These are the santons that I'm collecting for our rather more modest family creche).
Santons Fouque , Aix en Provence
Santons Jouve, Luynes.