Before leaving the lovely Teste family this morning. I took myself off to a very interesting museum to learn about the silk weaving industry of Lyon. Not really Graeme’s cup of tea, so I was solo for the morning. I was a little nervous about navigating to the museum by myself. The streets of Lyon are a rabbit warren and when you are guests of tour guides like Hubert & Marie, you don’t pay as much attention to your whereabouts as you should.
The tour of La Maison des Canuts was very good. The silk industry was the most significant industry of Lyon from the 13th – 19th centuries. While it waxed and waned during periods of disease, poverty, famine and civil war, at its heyday in the mid 19th century there was an estimated 25,000 looms operating predominantly in the multi-storey buildings like the one H&M live in and the tall looms account for the very high ceilings of H&M’s apartment.
Silk looms were really one of the first computers. They used massive punch-cards to automate the pattern design.
But the person who sat at the loom was called the “Canut” and they were responsible for making sure that the pattern of colours was repeated exactly each time the warp was lifted. This is an incredibly complex process and essentially a Canut needed a photographic memory to remember the colour order of the weft threads for the design. I’m not doing a great job of explaining the process – but this video is not bad, although the lady in the clip is making velour where the weft threads are shaved to make the textured pattern. To give you an idea of how time consuming the process is…it took 5 weavers, 23 years to weave all the fabrics necessary for the recent restoration of just a couple of rooms in the Palace of Versailles.
I returned to H&M’s after the tour and we ate a quick lunch with them before we hit the road to our friend Georgie’s house in the Jura mountains near Geneva. It was all go at H&M’s, H was on a business call, M was reading a very boring legal treatise (as she termed it) and like all children Camille & Diane arrived home for a feed. We have shared a special time with H&M and it was lovely to see where and how they lived in the bustling Lyon city. We also loved to see what lovely young ladies, both Diane & Camille have grown into and to have met a very special young man – Lionel.
In less than 2 hours we were at Georgie’s. Georgie & Sabine live on a small farmlet – about 12 acres in the Jura mountains near a small town called Champfromier very close to Geneva where Sabine works. The house is a huge converted barn/farmhouse and it’s great attraction, apart from the stunning location is a huge art studio where both G & S can pursue their artistic interests.
Sabine has a very high pressure job in Geneva and generally spends her weeknights at their apartment in Geneva and the weekends at the farm. But today Sabine arranged to from home so she could join us for dinner. We had actually met Sabine previously when we “gate-crashed” their house in 2012. G&S had just moved there and G was in London when we were coming through the area. Even though we knew G was not home and most importantly… not being invited, we thought we’d just sneak up to meet Sabine and have a look where G now lived. Apparently arriving unannounced is definitely not the “done thing” in Swiss culture. Over dinner tonight, it does appear that Sabine has survived the trauma of our first meeting in 2012. It was great to spend a little more time getting to know her better.
Like Gra & I, G & S are serious carnivores. Tonight we were treated to a delicious meal of horse meat. I’ve had it before and know that it’s absolutely delicious. A low fat meat, in taste & texture it’s very much like venison or kangaroo. I’m not sure why there is so much resistance from some people about eating it? Sabine loves it and Georgie has a fantastic little dance routine she enacts before she prepares the meat for the pan. This is is a must watch – it’s hilarious! Gra didn’t have any…not because of any conscientious objection…the broiled bone marrow and finally caught up with him. A small bowl of restorative chicken soup was all he could manage.
Early to bed for the crew. Poor Sabine has to leave super early to beat the morning traffic into Geneva and G has a tour of Bellegarde and mountain hike planned for us tomorrow.