Its fame is international for its long history of tapissery production since the 15th century. Luxury product and craft of art and excellence, but it deserves a more profound exploration.
Let’s roam in the town and time travel : the old town and its most ancient buildings show Aubusson’s history, the weaver’s workshops and the Cité de la Tapisserie unfold a centuries-long craftsmanship renouned in the world’s heritage by UNESCO, the Art Déco and Art Nouveau architectures show the changes of the tapissery industry during the 20th century…
Let’s explore, through a cultural and sporty walk, all Aubusson’s aspects.
First of all, let’s go up to the Chapter, remains of the Viscounty of Aubusson castle, raised in the 11th century and built on a rocky spur which overlooks the town. You can imagine the most famous troubadours mingling, for nearly a century, in this magnificent castle which was one of the most important in France. Unfortunately, in 1632, Richelieu sacrified it and used the stones and materials for buildings for the town below.
After a good climb, let’s go down to the town-centre, quite small but very charming.
During the walk, be observant and discover:
- On Place d’Espagne, with its fountain, The quirky 15th century timber framed House,
- Then go accross Rue Grande, in which still remains traces of the 19th and early 20th centuries commercial developments (frontages, signboards). At n°64, look at our stonemason’s imagination at the Maison à Rocaille : banisters and balconies made of concret sculpted to look like wood,
- Change of times when arriving at the Town Hall. Built in 1933, it’s an unusual exemple of Art Déco architecture which surprises you, with its cubic forms and vertical lines. No need to mention it was very controversial !
- the tapissery history unfolds while meandering the narrow streets of Quartier de la Terrade. This ancient weaver’s and dyer’s borough is punctuated with picturesque houses where we can find on their frontage the castle’s windows, footmarks of the old family run workshops and factories. We can find the Carton’s workshop museum which highlights the creations which then were transposed on wool.
- Back to Le Pont de la Terrade, once the unique place to cross the Creuse river, which linked the region where the workers lived traditionnaly and the workshops where the carpets were produced.
By the way, it’s the unusual chemical composition of the Creuse river which fixed naturally the pigemnts on the tapisseries, thereby the birth of this production.
- Let’s carry on our voyage in the past while going up Rue Vieille. Going through Place Sainte Catherine where only a Virgin with Child, inside a niche, remains of the ancient town’s chapel Notre-Dame.
- Further up, the beautiful 16th century building which bears on its frontage the town’s coat of arms – vert bush topped with 2 stars and moon crescent – houses the Tourism Office and the Maison du Tapissier where weaving demonstrations are shown regularly. Remember Aubusson’s motto : “inter spinas floret” (it blooms amongst the thorns).
- Finaly, let’s finish with a panoramic view of the town going up to the Clock Tower. This ancient watch tower is the last remains of the enclosure around Aubusson.
There are many more buildings to look at like the Maison des Vallenet, the Sainte-Croix church or passionate art creaftsmen to meet!
But don’t’ leave without visiting the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie !
I advise you the guided tour for a true experience in the weaving world of Aubusson and discover the tapissery evolution, from the 17th century mythological and green scenes to the surprising modern masterpieces.