The pretty little village of Saint Cézaire, in the Alpes-Maritime hills behind Grasse, has a wonderful little Santon Museum.
Located a village street close to the center, the museum is tucked in beside the owner's house in the long row of joined houses. There's no display window and no shop front, so you could miss it if you were wander along and not paying attention.
Museum Village aux Santons
Marlène Maure, 7 rue des Poilus
Tel: 0493 608 239
Inside is rather small, about like one very large household room. High at the far end of the room is a santon village depicting Saint Cézaire itself. A postcard of the village at the lower right shows the accuracy of the santon version.
The main interest though (for us), are the larger-scale santon scenes below the miniature village and along both sides. These detailed santons show village and rural themes and are done in beautiful detail.
At the left as you enter, a lady hangs laundry on the line to dry [photo-2]. The clothes are made in the authentic styles and colors; the clothesline poles are built correctly. Behind is the "lavoir" with washer women at work, with all the correct detail, from reed baskets to hooped wooden tubs.
There's really so much finely-done work that it's hard to see everything in one visit. If you focus in on the exquisite detail, you won't have time to see everything. And if you try to look at every scene, you'll miss some of the interesting detail.
In the school house [photo-4], the children are dressed in Provençal dresses, with straw hats or bonnets, their "cartables" sitting beside them, and a finely detailed globe nearby.
Many of the scenes are connected by the actions of the little figures. In photo-7, the pastry chef works at the stove while two of his cherry pies are taken next door, perhaps for the meal in the room shown in photo-5. Also in photo-5 you can see the individually made provencal plates in the rack at the back of the room.
For Provençal/regional scenes we particularly liked the bread oven, visible behind the wedding scene in photo-10, and the man picking olives in photo-12. In photo 12, not only are the baskets and the ladder finely detailed, there's an authentic looking snake at the base of the ladder. Also, the olive picker wears a knitted sweater, a detail shared by the carpenter in photo-8.