I know some of you think that I work all time - and I do when I am here in the UK. Then every so often I take a holiday when I do no real work at all. Maybe climb a mountain or fly a kite, visit museums and a few favourite shops. I have to confess that I have just returned from 3 weeks in France. It has been lovely! The sky was cobalt, the sea turquoise and when it snowed, it snowed white pom-poms.
One of my favourite places is Tarascon on the Rhone, opposite its twin, Beaucaire, the highest navigable point of the Rhone and site of an important mediaeval international market place. It is also home to Souleiado, makers of the colourful printed cloths we associate with Provence, and their museum which is rich in costume and furnishing history.
Cotton from India printed with woodblocks similar to these was imported via Marseille in the 17th century and was shipped up to Beaucaire. These fabulous fabrics, still called Indiennes today, were so popular for dresses and furnishings, that production grew up around Tarascon. However, the French crown seeing that the new fashion prejudiced crown sponsored textile manufacturing, banned their production. The interdiction was largely flouted and manufacture moved out of France to the then independent state of Alsace, to Mulhouse on the Rhine. The Souleiado Museum in Tarascon has around 20,000 antique wood blocks in its collection.
Before roller presses, the fabrics were printed by hand.
One of the features of the museum is the dye-house, which still houses the original dye recipes for all the fabrics produced.
This is just so you can see how blue the sky was by Alphonse Daudet's Moulin just south of Tarascon.