I discovered Santons on my first trip to Provence. They make wonderful souvenirs and indeed could be the population for your garden railway.
One of the most interesting times I have ever had on my trips to France was when I stopped along a back road (between Les Baux and St. Remy) at a hut advertising "Santons et Cerises". Inside the hut was a pleasant old man who had probably been making Santons all his life. At the time, I spoke little French, and he spoke even less English. Nevertheless, he proceeded to show how santons are made and tell me all about the different santons he made and what each represented. Language was no barrier and we had a "conversation" that lasted at least an hour. I purchased a creche set from him for my wife - I remember him joking about the cow eating the straw he used for packing material. It was truly enjoyable.
Several years later, I was in a bookstore near my home and noticed a book about Provence on the bargain table. I picked it up and flipped through it and there was a picture of this same old man sitting at his workbench making santons. I bought two copies - one for me and a second to give to him on my next trip to France. Sadly, when I went back, the hut was gone. I can only assume he had retired or perhaps passed away. I wish I could have seen the look in his eyes when I showed him the book, but it was not to be. C'est la Vie.
"It is one of the happiest characteristics
of this glorious country that official utterances are invariably
regarded as unanswerable."
-Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty (HMS Pinafore)