October 08, 2021

Yves and Marie-Françoise Aubron, Vendée miniature / Miniature Vendée

market on a square near the church
all pictures courtesy of Vendée miniature

The market on a square in the image above is part of a collection of miniature scenes created by former cabinetmaker Yves Aubron and his wife Marie-Françoise Aubron. The collection is open to the public in Bretignolles-sur-Mer, a commune in France along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

town hall with a wedding
Life and works

Marie-Françoise and Yves Aubron grew up in the Pays de Mauges, an area more inland, north-east of Bretignolles-sur-Mer. 

Yves Aubron became a furniture maker. In 1987 he had an accident at work, which left him unable to walk for some time. During the period of recovery he made some crafts, such as a cart that was widely used in the area. This gave him the idea that it could be interesting to have a scene depicting such a cart in its daily environment, and along that way a plan arose to create a miniature village.

villagers drinking coffee at the café

He needed time to heal and think about his plan in relation of his professional future.

But then, in 1994 Aubron started making the plan a reality. He created the first models that would become part of the miniature ensemble he had in mind, an impression of a village in the Vendée at the beginning of the the 20th century.

the train passes the mill on the hill

In 1995 Aubron had already made such an amount of miniature creations that they could be exhibited on a 45 m² tableau in the community of Clisson, about 200 km north-east of Bretignoles and near the region where he grew up.
In the same year, Aubron registered as an entrepreneur in Bretignolles-sur-Mer, and it can be assumed that around that time the Aubron couple had settled in that community, presumably with the intention of eventually establishing a permanent exhibition there.

But first there was in 1997 an exhibition of the miniatures in Tiffauges, a community near Clisson and this presentation covered an area of 100 m².

It is not entirely clear when exactly the location in Bretignolles-sur-Mer was put into use, but it must have been around 2000. In any case, in 2004 a company was founded, the Vendée Miniature Company, which specialized in the creation of miniature models.

women busy picking grapes

Creating a variety of miniature scenes of
village life in he Vendée in he early 19th century

In the building in Bretignolles-sur-mer where the village miniature Vendée is now located, there is a 450 m² display that by a variety of miniature scenes shows life in a village in the Vendée as it was at the beginning of the 19th century..

There are some 80 different buildings, all at scale 1:10, made of natural materials such as slate, granite and limestone. In addition to the houses of villagers, there are also several larger buildings, such as the church with a tower of 3 meters, the town hall, a station building. mills on a hill.....

All transport is by horse and carriage and it is admirable that the 40 carts and wagons are accurately modeled after what they looked like in earlier times.

villagers around a house,
including a woman with a spinning wheel

That accuracy can also be seen in the authentic clothing worn by the 650 models of the people who portray village life. Many of their activities take place outside in public area, but people can also be seen when they are indoors, as those scenes are lit up.

An attractive aspect of the collection of miniatures is that many parts of the arrangement can move, not only the train and the mills, but also all kinds of tools operated by workers and others

villagers play boules

In 2019, the Aubron couple ended their involvement in the Vendée miniature. The site was taken over by the young couple Thomas Legris and Juliette Moret, who have ideas for new activities.
a donkey for a covered wagon

* Website of Vendée Miniature
* Website Vendée Tourisme (in English)

* Video by TV Vendée (2013, YouTube, 1'33")

Vendée Miniature
50 rue du Prégneau
85470 Bretignolles-sur-mer, dept Vendée, region Pays de la Loire
visitors welcome, for opening hours see website