From Saint-James sailor tops to Hermès and Vuitton handbags, Notre Dame’s bells in Paris to Mauviel pans and Berger lamps: Normandy has a flair for excellence. And especially for expertise. Not only is Normandy home to world-renowned brands, but it also plays host to workshops which skilfully bring a respect for traditions together with game-changing innovation.

A real hotbed

Craftsmanship is the industry with the most companies in Normandy. The Chamber of Trades lists 80,000 with a rise of 40% in the last five years. Over half of the region’s artisan companies call Seine-Maritime and Eure home.

Normandy’s craft industry may be primarily made up of small businesses (61% are sole traders), but craftsmanship and its 105,000 employees play an important role in the regional economy. It brings towns and villages to life and creates local jobs throughout the area.

The industry has over 250 trades and 500 businesses in four key areas: food & drink, production, construction and services.

Tradition meets innovation, a sustainable and future-forward industry

In and outside Normandy, most artisan trades rely on long-standing and traditional expertise. But that doesn’t stop businesses from innovating. FILT near Caen has turned the string bag that has been its signature since 1860 into a world-famous trendy accessory.
The former Kiplay clog factory in Flers in Orne now makes wellness gilets to ease musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions.  There are too many examples to mention. The inventor of the artisan solar-powered bread oven also comes from Seine-Maritime (NeoLoco).

The rise of digital technology and new materials has seen new techniques to address market needs and climate change. Trades in areas such as green building, insulation and waste removal are booming.

Normandy craftsmanship figures to remember

  • 80,000 artisan companies
  • 2000 fine craftsmen
  • 54 “living heritage companies”
  • 105,000 employees
  • 8.5% of paid employment in Normandy

Industry pillars in Normandy

Haras du Pin
Haras du Pin - sellerie

Fine crafts

Normandy has around 2000 fine craftsmen. These artisans put their complex expertise making unique pieces or limited editions.
Long-standing brass and metalwork in Villedieu-les-Poêles and lace (with Alençon lace listed as UNESCO World Heritage) are among the best-known in Normandy. But that’s not all. Countless artisans stand out in heritage restoration, woodwork, instrument making, pottery (Rouen faïence) and glass in the Bresle Valley.
Pays d’Auge is the place for highly sought-after trades people in restoring built heritage: carpenters, roofers, thatchers, cob masons, master glass makers and more. The region is involved in a campaign to celebrate the diversity and excellence of these 300 trades.

Les Entreprises du Patrimoine Vivant

54 businesses in Normandy have been awarded the “living heritage company” label (EPV). They embody Normandy’s high standard expertise in countless sectors: fashion (Tricots Saint-James, Ets Thierry, Kiplay etc.), accessories (Parapluie de Cherbourg umbrellas, Bohin needles etc.), tableware (Guy Degrenne, Mauviel etc.), homeware and design (Atelier Sanson, Berger, Laudescher etc.), shipbuilding (Chantier naval Bernard etc.), food & drink (Biscuiterie de l’Abbaye etc.), metal (Fonderie Cornille-Havard etc.).

They account for up to 5000 jobs, several hundreds of millions of euros in turnover, including half in export.
Several of these companies are part of ARSEN. The Association Régionale des Savoir-faire d’Excellence Normands promotes the region’s outstanding expertise at home and abroad.

Saint James

Profile of the Fabrique des Métiers d’Art, a future-forward ecosystem

Seine-Eure Council is creating a real buzz around fine crafts and is behind the first regional ecosystem devoted to the past and future of fine crafts and luxury. The Fabrique des Métiers d’Art in Louviers is made up of premium brands such as Hermès, suppliers for leading companies such as Cuir du Vaudreuil, as well as schools. It has a training centre, business cluster and exhibition centre (Le Carré Saint-Cyr).

Major events for the craft industry in Normandy

  • European Artistic Crafts Days in Normandy
    March to April
    300 artisans come together to share their passion with the general public every year, supported by the Chamber of Trades.
  • FENO
    The annual Festival de l’Excellence Normande in Caen or Rouen introduces the general public to the best of Normandy’s crafts.
  • Le Salon du Made in France
    The Normandy region has a stand showcasing twenty artisan businesses at the annual event for the crème de la crème of French craftsmanship.

Support and innovation in Normandy craftsmanship

Anne Soullez

Support from the Chamber of Trades

Innovation is a springboard for growth and longevity for Normandy craftsmanship.
Normandy’s Chamber of Trades helps businesses with their research and development projects. It provides both individual and group support with calls to tender, advice, structuring business groups and more. CMA innovation centres (digital, sustainable development, silver economy etc.) are also here to help artisan companies.

Normandy craftsmanship committed to ecological transition

Local suppliers, local businesses, item repairs and building renovation… Countless artisan companies have long been working towards a virtuous economy that takes care of people and the environment. It’s in their nature.

Anne Soullez

Let’s repair to the Répar’acteurs!

In the face of climate change and the rising cost of living, the future is in repairs. The French Répar’acteurs label supports and promotes artisans involved in the area. Over 250 companies in Normandy were approved as Répar’acteurs by the end of 2022.

Free support

The Chamber of Trades relies on a nationwide campaign to help companies manage their energy use. Performa Environnement provides a free assessment and support for any project to reduce your carbon footprint.

Air Menuiserie

The Normandy craft industry, a hotbed for employment

Since they fulfil several requirements and provide local, quality services, craft trades have a bright future.

There are several options if you want to work in this industry in Normandy.

  • Start your own business: do you have expertise and want to start your own business? Join Normandy’s 80,000 artisan companies. The Chamber of Trades provides guidance and support for people who want to start their own business.
  • Take over a business: with retirement in sight, several directors want to pass on their expertise to keep their legacy alive. The Chamber of Trades is here to help.
  • Apply for a job:  the craft industry is a major recruiter in Normandy with 105,000 employees. According to a 2023 survey by the Chamber of Trades, 18% of artisans planned to hire staff in the next 12 months (14% planned to hire apprentices).  11% of craftsmen are actively looking for staff but 94% are struggling to find workers due to a lack of applicants or applicants who don’t have enough training or experience.
    The entire industry is looking for workers, in particular in the leather, hair, beauty and building trades. Artisan businesses also need people with skills in communication, internet, management, accounting, sales and innovation.

Train in craftsmanship in Normandy

Waltersperger, maître verrier de la Vallée de la Bresle

Long live apprenticeships!

  • The Chamber of Trades CFA trains over 4000 apprentices every year and helps get them into the workplace.
    It covers the entire region with several campuses in Caen, Coutances, Dieppe, Le Havre and Rouen. It has 54 courses, ranging from NVQ to HND, in several fields (cookery, florist, business, butchery, bakery, hair, beauty, mechanics, prosthetics etc.).
  • Bâtiment CFA Normandie provides apprenticeships and sandwich courses for 5000 apprentices at 7 building and public works training centres in Alençon, Caen, Coutances, Dieppe, Évreux, Le Havre and Rouen.

Artisan businesses also have their own training centres to keep their legacy alive. For example, AMP Reliures teaches the art of bookbinding in Saint-Lô.

News in the craft industry in Normandy

Parapluie de Cherbourg: an umbrella for any weather

A popular film around the world, a magical soundtrack and an umbrella shop that became famous despite being pure fantasy… at the time. Jacques Demy’s film inspired 22 year old Jean-Pierre Yvon to create his own brand and Le Véritable Cherbourg umbrella factory in the heart of town in 1986. His son, Charles Yvon, now…

Reviving Normandy’s flax industry: sustainable textile production

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