Vallauris the Centre for Pottery on the French Riviera
The following article is a re-post of the original written by Marie-Helene the owner of online boutique Remember Provence. She spends her days, filling orders for made-in-Provence artisan products that are shipped all over the world. When she is not busy packaging orders, Marie-Helene is searching the region for high-quality handcrafted goods. One great example is the earthenware pottery from Vallauris a town on the French Riviera.
History of Vallauris Pottery
Vallauris Golfe-Juan – “city of 100 potters” – is a tourist town on the French Riviera between Antibes and Cannes. Its name (Valauria in Provencal) means “the golden valley.” Divided into two parts; the old centre of Vallauris, and the seaside section running from the port along the Côte d’Azur, towards Antibes.
The original pottery of Vallauris is traditional culinary ceramics likely created during the Roman era thanks to nearby clay deposits.
From the 16th-century, Italian families from Genoa settled in the city after a deadly epidemic. This timeframe is the beginning of pottery activity by individual artisans.
In the 17th-century, the pottery craft activity developed further becoming a significant economic driver of the city. The pottery tradition of Vallauris that continues today is born at this time.
In the 19th-century, the advent of the railway helped the potters to organize commercial enterprises. They worked in large factories and exported their production. Utensils and kitchen containers become the specialty of Vallauris. This terracotta pottery enamelled with a clear glaze is the distinct “trademark” of the town’s pottery.
However, 20th-century modernization brings with it a decline in artisanal pottery activity in Vallauris. After WWII, Picasso gives a new impetus to the pottery of Vallauris when he chooses to settle in the city. Like a magnet, the presence of Picasso draws the arrival of artists like Jean Marais and many others.
Vallauris became fashionable in the years 1950-60 and ceramics developed as an art form. The trend towards ceramics as art was prompted by the Massier brothers Clément and Delphin and cousin Jérôme in the late 1800s. Since that time the craft continues but overall with decorative ceramics and tableware.
Earthenware = Healthy Cooking
Today, few potters of the – city of clay – continue making the ancient earthenware pottery of Vallauris. However, at Remember Provence we have selected one artisan who continues the handcrafted tradition of this Provencal pottery. These are beautiful kitchen containers are handmade Vallauris ceramics, such as the emblematic daubiere pot, the Provencal tian dish, the large skillet.
But other pieces more common and very useful in cooking, especially for making stews and oven-baked goods, are available in our shop: ceramic saucepan with lid, round baking dish, and various containers for art de la table.
Cooking in terracotta is healthy, as slow-cooked ingredients keep their individual tastes, without the necessity to add fats. Earthenware is ideal for cooking vegetables, for example, in a classic oven or even in the microwave.
We wish you bon appetit!
Discover Vallauris Golfe-Juan
The town of Vallauris Golfe-Juan stretches along the Côte d’Azur where residents and visitors enjoy a sweeping azure view of the Baie de Cannes. The “Town of Arts and Crafts” offers plenty of cultural entertainment away from its sandy beaches.
Céramique Massier Atelier – Showroom
7 rue Jean Gerbino
Tel: +33 (0)6 65 17 60 88
Château de Vallauris, once the priory of monks from l’Abbaye de Lérins on Ile St Honorat, is home to:
Musée national Pablo Picasso
La Guerre et la Paix
Place de la Libération
Tel: +33 (0)4 93 64 71 83
July and August, daily from 10 am to 12:45 pm and 2:15 pm to 6:15 pm
September: every day except Tuesdays from 10 am to 12:15 pm and from 2 pm to 5 pm
Le Musée Magnelli
Discover the work of Picasso contemporary Alberto Magnelli (1888-1971) an abstract painter from Florence.
Vallauris Tourist Office (website)
4, avenue Georges Clemenceau
Tel. 33 (0)4 93 63 82 58
Golfe-Juan Tourist Office
Tel. 33 (0)4 93 63 73 12