Let's head for La Croix-Rousse, a very industrious hill, which was once the silk workers' district.Along with her husband Philibert, Virginie Varenne runs the Maison des Canuts (Silk Workers' Centre) which they have both renovated together You enter through the shop, a bright area featuring an architectural style characteristic of the area with its high wooden ceilings. The white walls really bring out the sparking colours of the silk products.As a walking encyclopaedia on theLyon silk trade, Virginie Varenne devotes all of her time and energy to sharing her passion for this industry with visitors and to sweeping away a few misconceptions!
As both a museum and a workshop, the Maison des Canuts shares and continues the proud history of silk making in Lyon, from its origins through to the present day, with its exhibition, guided tours and weaving demonstrations in the workshop using antique wooden looms.Visitors to the centre can admire a magnificent Jacquart loom and numerous instruments and accessories used in silk making including reels, spools and shuttles, in addition to silk yarn of all colours, antique silkwear, trimmings, documents and videos on the history and social contribution of the silk workers. Not forgetting of course a look at the area's textile industry today in the 21st century.One of the great benefits of this centre is that we succeed in giving the visitor a complete overview of five centuries of silk making, covering the historical, artistic, technical and social aspects. Here, the visitor really get a chance to see just how Lyon has been shaped by the history of its textile industry including the city's architecture, in addition to its economic, humanist and social development, marked by the silk workers' revolt and its outcome. This subject, which is still a topical one, gives us food for thought for the future.We have also recently created a new area dealing with the life cycle of a silkworm, taking the form of video which is very popular with children. The kids are given a cocoon to keep at the end of their visit.
Tell us about the shop?
The shop forms part of the overall presentation as it includes only products made here in the Rhône Alps region. It's a showcase, demonstrating that the Rhône Alps is France's leading textile region and has been for the last five centuries!We propose a range of scarves, stoles, ties and accessories, in addition to trimmings and woven pictures which are extremely popular with British and American visitors, creative leisure activities (trimmings, etc.) and silk-based cosmetics, postcards, books and even chocolates made specially for the Maison des Canuts by the House of Bouillet. In short, items for every taste and to suit every pocket!
What are your plans for the future?
We have plenty! Along with other institutions here in Lyon we are examining the possibility of setting up a Silk Festival to show that this sector of excellence, which can draw upon five centuries of history in Lyon, is still as relevant today as it always has been. We should be able to tell you more about this in a few months' time
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