October 31, 2015

Eugène Choffat, Village miniature/Miniature village

Above picture depicts the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church of Courtillers as reconstructed in miniature by Eugène Choffat, resident of this small rural community of some 600 people in the Pays de la Loire in western France ¹.

Life and works

Born in 1929, Choffat in his professional life had a job as a service technician in a factory in the neighboring town Sablé-sur-Charte. He retired in 1989, at age 60.

In the 1970's, so when he was in his forties, he began making replicas from concrete of buildings in his region, an activity he continued for some forty years. This resulted in a miniature village of some twelve various replicas, supplemented with over a hundred little characters.

The replicas, all more or less to scale, are on display in the garden of his house in a landscaped setting with specific elements that support the appearance of the whole, such as the viaduct in above picture.

In my opinion, to a large extent the charm of this art environment is in the black and white color scheme of the unadorned replicas.

But then, Choffat also offers visitors of the site the surprise that many parts of the site are animated. 

Through a complex system of hidden ropes, pulleys and motors, all made with technical ingenuity from discarded home appliances, sails, vehicles and people come into motion if visitors throw a coin into an appropriate slot.

Currently in his 80's, Choffat no longer makes replicas. He maintains the site, and together with his wife, he is happy to receive visitors.


¹  To my knowledge Sophie Lepetit's weblog (see documentation) is the only source on the internet about this art environment, so with pleasure I acknowledge that the data in above entry were derived from Michel Leroux' text in that blog

Eugène Choffat
Village miniature
2 Allée du petit village
72300 Courtillers, dept Sarthe, region Pays de la Loire, France
visitors welcome