Barefoot BloggerLifestyle: Art & CultureProvencal History & Traditions

French Silk History and a Walled Garden near Uzés

By Barefoot Blogger:

When driving down the backroads of France near Uzés, it’s a common sight to ride alongside tall stone walls. You know these beautifully laid stones must conceal something amazing. Perhaps behind French garden walls, there’s a story to be told.

Behind French Garden Walls

Not too long ago I was privileged to be invited to visit inside the stone walls of a property I’d passed by often. I was given a tour through the magnificent 17th-century home and the gardens. Continue reading here for the original contributor blog post by Barefoot Blogger and her photos of this beautiful walled garden. Cypress trees, olives and other plants typical of the South appear in this manicured garden, but it is the abundance of roses that will grab your attention.

Silk Farming in France

Barefoot Blogger also shared some history of the house that dates from 1684. At one stage, a portion of the farmhouse was set-up for silkworm farming, as were many other properties in the South.

China is considered the “birthplace” of silk production an art form that started in roughly 2,700 BC. The Chinese managed to maintain a monopoly on the industry for 2000+/- years by carefully guarding the secrets of the production techniques. The Silk Road and the textile trade developed. Eventually, the technical know-how for silk framing reached the Mediterranean basin in the 6th-century but did not reach France until sometime in the 13th-century.

Magnanerie is the French word for sericulture (silk farming). Chestnut and mulberry trees were planted in Provence beginning in 1266, and the first written record of silkworms breeding was in 1296 in the Cévennes. French silk production reached its peak in 1853 and had all but collapsed by the 1930s when synthetic materials reached the marketplace. Lyon was long considered the capital of silk weaving and processing.

The fertile Luberon Valley was an important source of botanicals which were used for their natural colours in textile dyes. It was also a location for both cochineal and silkworm breeding. Historical information indicates that Lauris had a vermillonère by the 16th century where natural colourings where the carmine acid from dried cochineal insects produced deep-red dyes. By 1638, the community was also involved in silkworm production, an important revenue source until the middle of the 19th century. The Jardin Conservatoire Couleur Garance (in Lauris) is considered as one of the “Jardins Remarkables” in France and is well worth a visit between early May and October 31st.

Silk Museums and Gardens to Visit:

Luberon:

Jardin Conservatoire Couleur Garance (website)
Maison Aubert,La Calade
84360 Lauris
Tel:+33 (0)4 90 08 40 48
contact@couleur-garance.com

Cévennes:

Musée de la Soie
Place du 8 mai 1945 (near the Tourist office)
30170 Saint Hippolyte du Fort
Tel: +33 (0)4 30 67 26 94

      

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Deborah Bine

Deborah Bine

The Barefoot Blogger, aka Deborah Bine, loves to share tales of her solo life in France as an American expat who speaks no French. Retired from a career in advertising and marketing communications, and divorced after a 40-year marriage with children, Deborah left Beaufort, South Carolina and all of her belongings last year to move to the south of France. Now that she has found her "bliss," her passion is to encourage others to break away from whatever is holding them back and to go after their dreams. "We're on life's journey alone. Be certain you love where you are."

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