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Mantes-la-Ville: A Legacy of Woodwind Manufacturing

About two years ago, I took my first trip to Paris, France. Not only was it the vacation of a lifetime, but I was able to tour the Henri Selmer Paris factory in Mantes-la-Ville. On my walk to the factory from the train station, I passed by the Buffet Crampon factory as well! Yes, that's right—Buffet and Selmer are practically next-door neighbors! So, I decided to dig into the little manufacturing gem that is Mantes-la-Ville in this post.


Mantes-la-Ville is a small town located in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France region of France. Despite its size, this town has a rich history of woodwind manufacturing, with some of the world's finest instruments being produced here. In this article, we will explore the history of woodwind manufacturing in Mantes-la-Ville, France.

Dr. Sanders and partner outside of the home of Henri Selmer in 2021.


The history of woodwind manufacturing in Mantes-la-Ville dates back to the 19th century when several instrument makers established workshops in the town. One of the earliest and most renowned makers was Charles Bénard, who established his workshop in Mantes-la-Ville in 1864. Bénard was famous for his oboes and his instruments were considered to be some of the finest in the world. His craftsmanship and attention to detail earned him a reputation as one of the best instrument makers of his time.


Another prominent instrument maker in Mantes-la-Ville was Louis-Auguste Buffet-Crampon, who established his workshop in the town in 1825. Buffet-Crampon was a clarinet player himself and was dissatisfied with the quality of the clarinets available at the time. He set out to design and produce his own instruments, and his clarinets soon gained a reputation for their superior sound and intonation. Today, Buffet-Crampon is one of the most respected clarinet makers in the world, and its instruments are used by top clarinetists in orchestras around the globe.


In the early 20th century, another instrument maker emerged in Mantes-la-Ville: Selmer. Founded by Henri Selmer in 1885, the company originally produced clarinets and saxophones. In 1922, Selmer introduced the first metal-bodied saxophone, which became an instant sensation and revolutionized the saxophone industry. Selmer continued to innovate and produce high-quality instruments, and its saxophones and clarinets are still considered some of the best in the world.


Over the years, other instrument makers have established workshops in Mantes-la-Ville, including F. Lorée, who produces some of the world's finest oboes, and Rigoutat, a maker of oboes and English horns. Today, Mantes-la-Ville is still a hub of woodwind manufacturing, and its instruments are prized by musicians around the world.


The history of woodwind manufacturing in Mantes-la-Ville, France, is a testament to the skill and dedication of its instrument makers. From Charles Bénard to Buffet-Crampon to Selmer and beyond, the town has produced some of the world's finest woodwind instruments. Today, Mantes-la-Ville continues to be a center of woodwind manufacturing, and its instruments are cherished by musicians for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship.


*this post was created with the assistance of AI.

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