the best craftsmen of France

by Sharon Santoni
Now here is something you may not know …..
Each year in France, prestigious prizes are awarded to men and women who excel in their trade or craft.  The winners have to be officially recognised as ‘craftsman or craftswoman’, and the prize  is the result of a strict competition that can demand years of preparation.
The winner of one of these prizes gets to call him or herself ‘meilleur ouvrier de France’ [best craftsman of France], and is allowed to use the official logo on their stationery.    They keep their title for life, and can wear the small and distinctive MOF bronze medallion.
“Constantly searching for progress and perfection”
So who can take part in these competitions?  This year over 150 crafts and trades are eligible:  competitors have to be aged 23 or over.    The trades include chocolate confectionery, metalwork, clock making, glass engraving; millinery crafts …… I could continue for a long long time …
The  exam subjects are published for all to consult:  candidates could be asked to create a remarkable flower arrangement;  a work of art from  mosaic tiles;  an elegant pair of shoes;  the most delicious baguette of fresh bread; the perfect chocolate cake  or intricate stone carving.
Whatever the subject, it is the student who has to cover the cost of the materials, and find the time to prepare him or herself for the competition.  Not always easy or convenient when they are running a small and young business.
So why am I telling you this?  Because I think- in today’s fast and furious world – that it says something about a country  when some of its most prestigious prizes are given to artisan workman who can work magic with their hands.
I love the aura and respect that surrounds this tradition.   I love the pride of a craftsman who displays this recognition of his skill and knowledge.  Personally I have met a couple of ‘Meilleur Ouvriers’:  one was a tailor, another a baker and even our farrier, who received the title when he started out shoeing horses many years ago, and still displays the logo on his business card.
So today, when technology increasingly dominates our daily life, and children seem to be spend less time creating with their hands,  let us pause for a moment and think about the skills we see around us, and about the patience and dedication required to obtain them.    If young craftsmen weren’t willing to train and learn for years, then so many crafts could disappear for ever.
Be thankful for craftsmen today!  🙂


Alison March 21, 2013 - 12:19 am

Oh so wonderful! I work with my hands as a hobby and can appreciate the work and dedication it must take to even be considered. Plus, having the dedication and love for their art to work so hard to be the best is very admirable!

Botanic Bleu March 21, 2013 - 12:32 am

One more reason to love France…celebrating excellence of individual accomplishments…
Vive la France!

Phyllis @Around the House March 21, 2013 - 12:33 am

what a great post, I did not know anything about this and I am so happy you have let me in on it, such cool shoes and cake and chocolates, how do we find out the winners for the year…thanks for sharing…

Jeannine March 21, 2013 - 12:55 am

BRAVO! Sharon for enlightening us on this wonderful award!! It is so refreshing to hear that talented people are acclaimed for their creative works.

Bonnie March 21, 2013 - 1:22 am

I have so enjoyed reading this post, and learn of this award. Here in this country we now discouraging students to major in any of the liberal arts subject. I find this so disappointing. It is good to see creativity rewarded. Thank you!

helen tilston March 21, 2013 - 1:56 am

Hello Sharon

Whilst painting outdoors today with my art partners we talked of this subject, i.e. merchants and purveyors who excel in their trade or craft. It is wonderful that France honours such masters.

Thanks for informing us of the meilleur ouvrier de France'

Helen xx

Katherine March 21, 2013 - 3:14 am

Recognizing and awarding true craftsmen will hopefully catch on around the globe. We need to pass on to a younger generation and future generations the skills that are slowly being lost. I would rather buy something unique, restored and hand crafted than something mass produced.

Karene March 21, 2013 - 6:36 am

I also love France's dedication to and support of craftsman and the arts. That's what brings beauty to our lives. Not to mention the importance of excellent tailoring, baking, and plumbing–those are necessities! How nice that attention to detail is appreciated–by the government as well as the people.

Dar March 21, 2013 - 7:24 am

What a delight to read of such talent being recognized. I must say, it takes me back to days of 4-H clubs in the USA and Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Home Economics in schools. Applause to the contestants. That cake is simply divine. I will be attempting a similar cake for my Mother for Mother's Day. Bravo~

M.A. the 2nd ~ Frances Russell March 21, 2013 - 10:41 am

How beautiful to have an award for such art and craft by true artisans! Only in France! I also loved your post on the chateau for sale … where is it? Andrew is interested!!!!
best wishes

Francine Gardner March 21, 2013 - 11:16 am

Great post! Thank you for celebrating the best of france. My two first cousind received the meilleur ouvrier de France, one as a chef and the other as an upholsterer!

The enchanted home March 21, 2013 - 1:16 pm

I can think of no country in the world where such a contest should be held…a country that produces so many beautiful things from pastries to clothes to furniture to bread!! Love this idea…and every country should take note, to keep the lost art of working with the hands alive!!

French Heart March 21, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Terrific post. This is but one of the reasons I love France. The pride in a job well done. My mother had French nuns throughout school and everything she did was with quiet, thoughtful, perfection. My son was educated in France I'm very glad to say…

wellfedfred March 21, 2013 - 2:21 pm

The film Kings of Pastry is a wonderful depiction of the Meilleur Ouvrier test for patissiers, and a good story to boot.

ArchitectDesign™ March 21, 2013 - 5:43 pm

I don't know why we don't do something like this in our country. This is the democratic equivalent of the "royal warrant" found in GB. Good for business and brings attention to the best the country has to offer!

Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon March 22, 2013 - 12:49 am

I just gasped when I saw the dessert. How beautiful! Then I started thinking about how it would be to have some of those shoes – lady shoes, not mens. As for the farrier it is so critical that the shoe is fitted properly or the horse's gait will be off. I guess you already knew that huh? Great post.

Karen (Back Road Journal) March 22, 2013 - 1:31 am

Pride in your craft is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately…that pride is disappearing in many places.

Tara Dillard March 22, 2013 - 1:33 am

Love the team of craftsman installing my garden designs.

They make everything I do better.

This is how we each make our money. None of us will do 'less than'.

If USA had the designation I would enter my team. XO T

Linda C. March 23, 2013 - 12:52 am

Craftmanship and recognition of it! How wise of France to have this award and so these crafts survive and flourish. Sadly we are being over-run by mass produced rubbish from Asia. Once we in Australia wanted quality over quantity…

Shank March 23, 2013 - 7:13 pm

nice post…..sharing information related to work from home in australia

Colleen Taylor March 23, 2013 - 8:09 pm

Wonderful post, wish it was that way here in the US. It should be!

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