Here we are getting into our charabanc (a 9-seater bus from Super-U) on our day trip with the vannerie group. We were going to visit a rattan supplier at Meximieux to buy materials for next year’s basketmaking.
Meximieux is to the northeast of Lyon and en route we visited the medieval town of Pérouges which dates from the 12thcentury. Its patron saint is St George and we were amused to see a statue of him killing a very small, rather toothless dragon.
Les Pérougiens were determined to maintain their independent status against invasion by surrounding duchies. The fortified church at the entrance to the town is noted for its defensive loopholes. In fact in 1468 the church was destroyed by the residents of Pérouges themselves so they could use the stone to fortify the ramparts. It was rebuilt a year later after the Duke of Savoy had fought off Louis XI’s troops.
The town retained its independence until 1601 when it became French under Henri IV.
For hundreds of years Pérouges prospered due to its textile industry. But with the advent of the railways and the rerouting of local roads Pérouges found itself in a backwater and people left to find work elsewhere. The empty village was nearly demolished but in 1911 a local businessman, M.Thibaut, launched a press campaign and with the help of archaeologists the village was saved.
The town is steeped in history and along the streets paved with round cobbles are many merchants’ and craftsmen’s shops displaying their ancient signs. The shutters open horizontally to provide a shelf to display wares.
We visited the boulangerie to buy the local speciality, a sort of gallette with a caramel topping, which we ate with our picnic before we went on to Maximieux.
At the rattan supplier we were given a guided talk and shown how rattan can be used.
Rattan comes from Indonesia and southeast Asia. It looks a bit like bamboo but with a soft centre so doesn’t stand up by itself but threads its way through tropical forests, sometimes reaching hundreds of metres long. The rattan weaving material we use is the skin which is peeled off and sliced into different widths. Rattan is quite flexible and can be stained different colours.
Here’s some we made earlier……..