One of the unwritten rules of holidays is that you will go on a day trip somewhere and say to yourself that really, one day, you should return for longer. And, more than likely, you never do. However, this summer we returned to Avignon, which we had visited briefly a few years ago.
Another unwritten rule of holidays is that you either arrive after a big event has finished or leave before it starts! So, of course, we arrived on the evening that the Avignon festival was finishing. As we walked from the train station to our apartment we saw lots of people and lots of posters. Later on, we did manage a quick bimble to take in the sights and sounds and saw acrobats, dancers, mime artists and musicians.
I thought I’d tell you about some of the art, craft and yarn shops that I discovered in and around Avignon.
Let’s Start with Avignon
It turns out there was a yarn shop round the corner from our apartment. And what’s more, we had to pass it on the way to the market (at least that’s what I told He Who Doesn’t Knit).
La Boîte a Tricot is at 40 rue Bonneterie, having moved from round the corner on rue Fourbisseurs. They have a good selection of yarns from several well known French yarn companies (Anny Blat, Bergère de France, Bouton d’Or and Phildar), as well as the Spanish company Katia. They also stock embroidery threads, sewing cotton and fabric.
Also nearby, at 11 Place St Didier, was Kalate. This is one of these shops that entices you in with a beautiful window display.
And the goodies inside were just as enticing. Kalate sells hand made clothes, accessories, jewellery and household items. Some of these are made by the two owners and some by local designer-makers. They also stock craft materials, such as cross stitch designs, ribbons, buttons and yarn.
Kalate stock yarn from two French companies, Fonty and Plassard, both of which were new to me. Fonty is based in Limousin, an area with a long history of textile work. I particularly liked the Fonty BB Merinos: it is soft to touch and comes in lovely soft colours.
The St Didier area also had several vintage shops and shops selling recycled and upcycled items.
Yarn Shops in Arles
We visited Les Arènes (Roman amphitheatre) before lunch, then decided to go to Le Museon Arlaten. This museum illustrates Provençal life; I was particularly keen to see the costumes and textiles. When we eventually found it we discovered that it was closed until 2018 for renovation. This is another unwritten rule of holidays: if you really want to visit somewhere, then it will be closed! Which, of course, means that you have to return again. During our somewhat scenic route to the museum we discovered several craft and yarn shops.
The first was Axelle Création Laine, at 17 rue de la Liberté. This is a small, but charming shop. As I entered the shop, I saw a lovely yarn; it turned out to be from Shilasdair yarns which are produced on the Isle of Skye. Not what I expected to find in southern France. Axelle Création Laine also stock Drops Yarn and some French brands.
Au Café Couture / La Farandole du Fil, at 19 rue du 4 Septembre, had mannequins in the window wearing Provençal costumes. Given the museum was closed, this was the nearest that I would get to any in Arles. Inside was a good selection of fabrics, haberdashery, threads and some yarn.
Although Arles is a fairly small city we saw other craft or yarn shops while we were wandering around. Plus we had the best ice cream of our holiday.
La Grande Maison des Arts Créatifs in Nîmes
Nîmes is the largest city that we visited and we were on a mission to visit the main attractions: La Tour Magne, La Maison Carrée and Les Arènes. So there wasn’t much time for bimbling.
I came across Rougier & Plé (6 rue de la Madeleine), which describes itself as “la Grande Maison des Arts Créatifs” (the big shop of creative arts). What a good description! It is a vast shop, with room after room full of art and craft materials. Even He Who Doesn’t Knit found much to keep him occupied. As well as all kinds of art media and surfaces, there were materials and tools for making cakes, candles, ceramics (even clay), collage, clothes, jewellery, lampshades, origami, papier mâché. You could buy beautiful stationery and browse books about art and craft. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something!
I’ve since discovered that Rougier & Plé have several shops in France.
I was enticed into Kalate by the gorgeous cross stitch designs in the window. I love the text in these designs; usually letters in cross stitch are very regular, whereas the words in these designs are more like calligraphy or typography. I found out that the designer (Lili Points) is local to Avignon, so they seemed to be an appropriate souvenir. I chose Le Café to make for He Who Doesn’t Knit and La Violette for me.
My other souvenir is this jolly mug. In the winter, when the weather is dull and wet, I’ll drink my tea from this mug and think of sunny Provence!