His fame is international for its long history of tapestry production from the 15th century onward – a luxury product and a fine craft, but it deserves a much deeper exploration.
Let’s stroll through the city and take a real trip back in time: the old town and its oldest buildings reveal the history of Aubusson, the weavers’ workshops and the Cité de la tapisserie unveil a centuries-old know-how recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO, the Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture testify to the changes in the tapestry industry during the XX th century… let’s discover through a cultural and sportive stroll all the facets of Aubusson.
First, let’s get some height by climbing to thee Chapitre, vestige of the castle of the Viscounty of Aubusson, raised in the eleventh century and built on the rocky spur that dominates the city. Imagine that here the most famous troubadours have crossed, for nearly a century, in this splendid castle that was one of the most important in central France. Unfortunately, in 1632 Richelieu sacrificed it and the materials were used to build buildings in the lower part of the city.
After a good climb, let’s go back down to the rather small but very charming downtown.
As you stroll along be observant and discover:
– On the Place d’Espagne, embellished with its fountain, the atypical 15th century Pan de Bois house,
– Then cross the Rue Grande, which still retains traces of the development of the 19th and early 20th century shops (facades, signs). At No. 64, observe the fantasies of our masons of the Maison à Rocaille: stair railings and balcony are carved cement imitation wood,
– Change of era when we arrive in front of the Hôtel de Ville. Built in 1933, it is an unusual example of art deco architecture that surprising, with its cubic forms and vertical lines. Needless to say, it has been subject to many controversies!
– The history of tapestry is revealed by winding through the narrow streets of the Quartier de la Terrade. This former district of the weavers and dyers is lined with very picturesque houses where the windows of the castle can be found in the facade, imprints of the former family workshops and factories. There is the workshop museum of the Cartons putting all the light on the creations that are then transposed into wool.
– Return by the Pont de la Terrade, once the only crossing point of the Creuse, which connected the region where workers traditionally lived and the workshops where carpets were produced.
In passing know that it is the unusual chemical composition of the Creuse that naturally fixed the pigments on the tapestries, hence the birth of this production.
– Let’s continue our journey into the past by going up the Rue Vieille. Passing through the Place Sainte Catherine where only a Virgin and Child remains, nestled in a niche, a vestige of the former Notre-Dame de la ville chapel.
– Higher up the beautiful 16th-century building that bears on its facade the city’s coat of arms – a Vert bush topped by 2 stars and a crescent moon – houses the Tourist Office and the Tapestry Maker’s House where weaving demonstrations are given regularly. Remember the motto of Aubusson: “inter spinas floret” (it blooms amidst the thorns).
Finally, let’s finish with a panorama of the city by climbing to the Tour de l’Horloge. This ancient watchtower is the last vestige of the wall that encircled Aubusson.
There are many other buildings to contemplate such as the House of Vallenet, the Holy Cross Church, or passionate craftsmen to meet!
But don’t leave without visiting the International City of Tapestry!
I recommend the guided tour for a real immersion in the woven universe of Aubusson and discover the whole evolution of tapestry, from the greens and mythological scenes of the XVII th century to the most amazing contemporary works.