Gérardmer and Xonrupt through the ages
Pictures of the Valley of the Lakes
Home > The thread of history
The thread of history
Having become the « temple » of « haute couture » in terms of household linen, Gérardmer has preserved traditional skills and a textile industry which is more alive than ever
The textile industry in the Lake Valley goes back several centuries. Jean Grossier, writer-story teller-painter, recounts this history : Formerly, each household in the Vosges heights had its own field of flax. The women span, the men wove after the outdoor work was complete, and most often in the winter. So each household made its own linen (sheets, shirts)
Which technique was used to treat the woven linen ? « The woven cloth was first washed in wood ash, left in the rain which produced a bleaching liquid called alkali… After being washed, the cloth was spread out in the fields and held in place with long perches. It was sprinkled with water using “rejetross” (a kind of spade in the form of a spoon). The pure water taken from channels, the ozone, the dew, the moon and sun light finished bleaching the cloth” , continues the storyteller
This technique was taken up in the 19th century on an industrial scale, making Gérardmer a large centre of treating and bleaching textiles. This industry still exists in Gérardmer and represents more than half of the national production in terms of bleaching textiles.
As for the weaving mills, the real industry beganin 1833 with the founding of the Garnier-Thiébaut weaving mills, a result of the marriage of Jean-Baptiste Garnier, founder of a company selling cloth, and Virginie Thiébaut, daughter of a manufacturer of household linen. Using the latest mechanical discoveries and importing linen thread from Flanders, which was stronger and better quality, Garnier-Thiébaut enabled Gérardmer to quickly establish itself as a large new textile centre. The impetus was given.
François Hans followed in 1865, Alphonse Claude in 1879, Nathan-Lévy (today Jacquard Français)in 1902, the Linière in 1920.
Before the founding of the textile mills, nearly every household in Gérardmer had its own weaving loom. In winter, they wove cloth to provide sheets and shirts, but also to have extra income by selling finished woven articles.
After Garnier-Thiébaut, several weaving mills saw the light of day in Gérardmer, notably those of Nathan-Lévy (today Jacquard Français)in 1902. Here the inside of the factory where the Jacquard looms were installed.
One of the particularities of the Gérardmer textile industry was the bleaching of linen cloth in fields. The cloth was spread out on the grass and regularly watered using a large spade/spoon, the 'rejetross'.
|Gerardmer webcams||Find accomodation||Restaurants||Sports activities||Well being||Outdoor activities||Factory shops|
|Ski video||Hotels||Inns||Water activities||Shopping||Indoor activities||Textile shops|
|Pictures all year||Bed and breakfast||Locally products||Winter sports||Markets||Leisure parks||Textile factory visits|