Meuse companies are taking the rare move of showcasing their expertise. From the textile sector to the only 100%-French toy and doll factory to the Meuse/Haute Marne underground research laboratory, there is something to suit every taste.
Bergère de France
Located in Bar-le-Duc, with premises of 40,000 m², Bergère de France is one of Europe's largest and most competitive spinning mills. The guided tour features various workshops, from the arrival of the raw materials, to their being packaged in balls at the packing line. Purchases may be made in the factory shop at the end of the guided tour. The tour lasts 2 hrs. Guide available for 20 people. Headphones provided. Booking compulsory. Guided tours for groups in French, German and English throughout the year except in July and August.
Guided tour of Jouets Petitcollin, the only one of its kind in France, the last 100%-French firm manufacturing toys and dolls (see the various stages of manufacture of the dolls). By prior booking only. Site accessible to people with impaired mobility.
Traditional trades and crafts
The tranquillity of the Meuse landscapes and the diversity of the natural resources and materials are sources of inspiration and creativity for numerous craftsmen and artists. Paying them a visit is to treat yourself to the double pleasure of an often unusual discovery about people and of a place that is bound to captivate you. Don't hesitate! Basketry, glassmaking, pottery, saddlery... there's always something to see, learn about, and be amazed by.
The Argonnais have succeeded in making the most of their forest, sand, local rock - or gaize -, water, and clay. Using this wealth of natural resources, they were able to develop an outstanding tradition of arts and crafts. There have been potters here since the Gallo-Roman period, glassmakers since the 3rd century, and faience makers since the 18th century.
Although the Argonne's "sigillated ceramic" (over 100 kilns discovered) was exported from the 2nd to the 4th century, from the British Isles to Asia Minor, the workshops in Argonne from the the Middle Ages to the 17th century enjoyed only a local clientele.
But the first faience factory was set up in 1709 in Waly; roughly ten more were to follow in the course of the 18th century, including the Islettes factory at Bois d'Epense. The oldest manufacturing process, "high firing" to 1000°, permitted only a limited palette of colours. Towards 1785, they began to use a new "low firing" technique (800°) at Les Islettes, permitting a far wider range of colours.
To learn about the manufacturing techniques of these famous faiences, make a date with the Musée de la Faïence at Rarécourt.