Provencal Artisan Traditions Fabrics and Lavender Fuseaux
It was a solo visit for Nutmeg. Ginger had no interest in the Souleiado fabric museum in Tarascon. The display provides a historical overview of their fabrics and methods of textile printing. The lighting in the small museum could be improved, and the information provided could be more explicit. The history of Indian fabrics in Provence is long, with imports starting in the late 16th century. These brightly coloured and heavily patterned fabrics were cherished when they first arrived. French production of Indian patterns started in Marseille in 1648. Initially, the output was of poor quality in comparison to the imports. However, as designers and printers mastered the trade, their capabilities expanded and the quality of products improved over time.
Read more about the Souleiado fabric museum in Tarascon here.
It is impossible to visit a market in Provence without seeing sellers of tablecloths, napkins, and other items for home decor. As a word of warning, beware of quality and place of origin as you may not be buying made-in-Provence products. The original printed Provencal fabrics are called les Indiennes, and they have quite a history.
Lavender has been a mainstay in Provence since the time of the Romans, who were already convinced of the plant’s beneficial qualities. During the peak of the lavender season (summer), you might be fortunate enough to stumble across someone in a market handcrafting traditional lavender fuseaux. If so, make sure to stock up, this 18-century artisan craft – they are beautiful and last forever…
In the words of French author Jean Giono (1895-1970), “Lavender is the soul of Provence.” Lavender grew wild in southern Europe long before the Romans used the herb in their thermal baths. Monastery gardens from the Middle Ages included these beautiful plants. The perfume industry in Grasse had established a consistent demand for lavender essential oil by the 19th century. Discover more information on the lavender fuseaux and other souvenirs to take home from Provence.