© Raynaud.M

Artisan Tours in Provence‑Alpes‑Côte d’Azur: Arts & Crafts

A hub of traditional craft industries, ranging from glasswork to earthenware, pottery, Christmas “santon” figurines, Queyras wooden toys and Provence’s sublime natural pigments, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur boasts a lengthy legacy of ancient, but constantly-renewed know-how. Welcome to our exciting artisan tours in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur!

 

Glasswork & Earthenware

From Biot and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

The region’s glassmaking tradition was born in the Fifties in Biot, a little village with steep lanes situated a stone’s throw from Nice. The glass bubbles are created with carbon dioxide, generated by sprinkling caustic soda on the molten glass – you can admire the talented glassblowers at work as soon as you push open the door to the Verrerie de Biot. The tour includes a stunning gallery showing works by internationally-renowned contemporary artists. Earthenware is another flagship tradition in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and the local creations are reputed for their purity. Earthenware and ceramics have been produced in the Provencal village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie since the 16th century. The clay is fired, then decorated with a thousand gorgeous colours and motifs. And of course, every artisan has their own personal style.

The best addresses

Pottery & Santons

Art Made in Provence

The region’s artisan pottery and “santon” figurine industry is a genuine emblem of Provence and you’ll find dozens of potters’ and ceramists’ studios and boutiques here, keen to teach you all about turning, moulding, embossing, enamelling and hand-decorating. Every piece – whether vases, jars, pot holders or the iconic santon figurines created during the French Revolution when churches were closed and people began making their own crib scenes – is curated with tender loving care in purest Provencal tradition. Santons were first sold to the public by a figurine maker from Marseille. Made with dried clay, then painted by hand, they represent figures from the gospel and traditional Provencal characters. Behind the doors of the local santon workshops, mostly family-owned, visitors can discover the various phases of the meticulous manufacturing process: creation of the mould, firing, embossing, creation of tiny clothes and, finally, painting…

 

The best addresses

Queyras Toys

Made with wood from the Alps

Situated in Arvieux, in the soothing Alpine setting of Vallée de l’Izoard, the boutique “Les Jouets du Queyras” opened way back in 1920. You’ll find a host of sustainable wooden toys here created by artisans using Queyras mountain trees, including musical boxes in the shape of a marmot and puzzles for the kids, plus jewellery boxes, table mats and herbal tea boxes… The tour retraces the wooden toy manufacturing process from the tree to the finished product. After a short introduction to the (century-old!) producers’ cooperative, it’s time to push open the doors to the carpentry workshop, where you’ll learn all about the workings of the scroll saw: an ancient tool used to give life and shape to the toys. The fun tour also includes a sanding demonstration.

The best addresses

 

Colours of Provence

The origins of ochre

In the iconic village of Roussillon in the Luberon, Provence’s mythical sunlight dapples the house frontages tinted with ochre extracted from the neighbouring quarries from the late 18th century onwards. Ôkhra, the Ochre & Colour Conservatory (a cultural cooperative), is THE place to go if you want to learn about this fascinating natural pigment originating from a type of sandstone. During the guided tour, visitors enjoy a plunge into the extraction process, including washing, decanting, firing and grinding. Next, it’s time to visit the Bruoux ochre quarry in Gargas: the only quarry still in operation in the Pays d’Apt area. Its impressive 50 kilometres of galleries snaking between colourful cliffs were dug out between 1880 and 1950 and a 650-metre section is open to the public. Captivating.

The best addresses

Boules

A Provencal sport par excellence!

Born in 1907 in La Ciotat, near Marseille, boules, or “pétanque” as it’s referred to locally, is a game requiring skill and concentration. And of course, it’s an intrinsic part of southern lifestyle! From the first days of spring, people gather on village and town squares to play, often with a glass of Pastis in hand. If you want to find out how the boules are made, treat yourself to a tour of La Boule Bleue, where you’ll learn everything there is to know about manufacturing techniques from engraving to ribbing, punching, heat treatments and polishing… All you have to do now is learn to point and shoot like a local!

 

 

The best addresses

Discover the full list of Provence Alpes-Côte d’Azur “Entreprise & Découverte” quality-certified artisans.

 

 

Our suggestions