Tournage poterie à l'atelier Hostein Noe - AubagneTournage poterie à l'atelier Hostein Noe - Aubagne
©Tournage poterie à l'atelier Hostein Noe - Aubagne|JPVallorani


Working with clay is an age-old tradition in the Pays d’Aubagne et de l’Étoile
and is still part of our homeland’s living heritage.

A Century-old tradition

From Aubagne to Saint-Zacharie, over the centuries, the ceramic industry, pottery and tile factories, has brought life to the towns and villages of the Pays d’Aubagne et de l’Étoile.

The first mentions of tile factories in Aubagne date back to middle of the fifteenth century and are related to the construction of the lower town.
In the nineteenth century, pottery and ceramics represented the most important part of the industry in Aubagne.

The ceramic industry of Saint-Zacharie played a leading role from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century in supplying the Midi (Southern France) and beyond. Today, the most spectacular testimony is still the battery of 4 restored ceramic kilns that can be admired in the center of Saint-Zacharie.


Silent witnesses of this past, chimneys of old earthenware factories or potteries, can still be seen around the streets, especially in Aubagne, at the Faïencerie Louis Sicard, where the ceramic cicada sitting on an olive branch was created in 1895, or at the prestigious Poterie Ravel, which is internationally renowned!


At the beginning of the century, the “Belle santonnière”, Thérèse Neveu had the idea of “santonnifying” picturesque characters of Aubagne and daily life. Thus, she gave a new impetus to the art of santon-making art: the Southern nativity scene.

A historical space is dedicated to her in her former workshop at Marcel Pagnol’s Petit Monde.

A Living Tradition

Thanks to the many workshops located in the Pays d’Aubagne and de l’Étoile, these year-round living traditions are exhibiting during the Santon and Ceramics Market, which takes place twice a year, but they can also be enjoyed in the various Aubagne museums dedicated to claywork.

Explore the workshops of santon makers and ceramic workshops in our homeland. Admire the creations of these passionate and talented craftsmen: potters, santon makers, jewelry designers, sculptors, …

Two flagship events are organized alternately: the Argilla biennial (end of August in odd-numbered years) and the santon art biennial (1st weekend of December in even-numbered years).

The association of Ceramists and Santon makers of the Pays d’Aubagne is regularly mobilized for events or projects.

This is how, in 2017, a collective creation was born in Aubagne: The Santons village in Provence. A large continuous set in which, nearly 3000 santons are staged in the middle of scenery of villages, hills, scrubland, creeks…