Textile History in France

October 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Museums and Exhibitions | Leave a comment
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After spending my holidays for the last couple of years exploring Britain’s textile history, I decided to have a look at what’s going on at the other side of the Channel this year. So, during the first couple of weeks in September, I found myself in quite a few big and small places documenting the rich textile history of France. Of course France is too big to do all in one trip, so I focused on the North, saving everything else for another trip. Needless to say I didn’t get bored even though I stayed within a relatively small area. There’s just so much to see! So, here’s the route I decided on:

I started off in the far north, near the Belgian border, visiting the lace museums of Caudry and Calais. Both towns were and are till today centres for machine-made lace, each with a museum to show off their fascinating history. Since it’s impossible to get around Paris when travelling anywhere in France by train, I took that as an excuse to spend a few days there in the middle of the trip. There don’t seem to be that many places specifically for textiles in Paris, but I did find a few interesting things nevertheless. I also had the opportunity to see the Musée de la Toile de Jouy, having a look at the fabric printing industry.

My next stop was Blois in the Loire valley, home of one of the famous castles. From there I took a trip to Chambord. Fascinating architecture as well as quite a few tapestries and embroideries to look at. The next two stops were all about lace again, this time of the handmade kind. The lace museums in Alençon and Argentan both concentrate on the local needlelace tradition, but show much more than that. I had a hard time to get myself out of those museums again!

I finished up my trip with a visit to Bayeux, home of the famous tapestry. Definitely worth it. Since there’s so much to tell about all of these places, I’m planning to make individual posts for each of them. I hope I’ll be finished sometime before Christmas! 😉

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