31 March 2018

Souvigny, suite et fin

These are the last photos I've processed and edited for Souvigny. On the afternoon when I took them, we also went to Agonges, a village a few miles to the north that I've posted about already. The previous day, we had been to Lapalisse, Jaligny-sur-Besbre, and the Puy Saint-Ambroise, all of which I've already posted about as well. It was three weeks ago when we finished the trip to the Bourbonnais/Allier area.

Some of these are versions of photos I published yesterday, or on the same subject. You might remember the building above from a photo in yesterday's post, for example. It looks more like a barn than a house, but then I see what appears to be a mail slot in the small door.

And then on the left is a view of one of the St-Pierre-et-St-Paul church's thousand-year-old bell towers.

Let me return to the mysterious term « rouennerie ». It's obviously based on the name of the town of Rouen, which is the capital of France's Normandie region. The city is famous for many things — its cathedral, which Monet painted dozens of times in different light conditions; the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc there in the 1400s; the rain that falls there so much of the time that Rouen has been called "the chamber pot of Normandy." Another of Rouen's claims to fame is the faïence (earthenware) plates and dishes that used to be manufactured there. At first I thought the word Rouennerie on the sign might refer to that, but it doesn't.

« Rouennerie » [roo-ah-'nree] turns out to be a kind of cloth that was woven in Rouen. It was either made of cotton or wool, and it's special characteristic is that the thread it was made from was dyed first and then woven. The predominant colors were red, pink, and violet. One dictionary gives this definition: Toile en laine ou en coton, d'abord fabriquée à Rouen, où dominent des couleurs comme le rose, le violet et le rouge et dont les dessins ou les reliefs résultent de la disposition des fils teints avant le tissage.

It seems particularly apt that the name of one of the products sold in the shop is « parapluies » — umbrellas — given the city's "chamber pot of Normandy" nickname. See the word printed on the façade between the blue shutters. Rouennerie fabric is no longer made in Rouen, apparently. Here are some Google images.

Above is a colorful sign that stands in front of the Arts et Terroir shop on the main square in Souvigny.

Finally, here's one more shot of the church towers from some of the little streets around the religious center of Souvigny, and more of the very plain, almost austere archictecture that you see in the town.


  1. Thanks for the details about rouennerie. I'd never heard of it. By the way, if the definition in Larousse is correct, very few of the fabrics in your link would qualify as rouennerie. Only the plain stripes meet the definition, the rest are printed. It looks like the term has come to loosely mean any cotton or wool in which that particular shade of rusty red dominates. This is very common with textiles. The name starts off as a technical weaving or dyeing term and gets extended into common parlance to mean anything that looks kinda like it.

    The church tower is what Preuilly's would have looked like, before it collapsed in 1876 and was rebuilt in the Burgundian style.

  2. As for rouenneries, isn't that the way it is with just about everything? Language evolves to take all kinds of new realities into account. The rouennerie people should have applied for an AOC!

  3. Denim is a perfect example of what happened to rouennerie fabric's name. What a remarkable fabric that was first made in Nimes!
    I love the Burgundian style and each one of today's photos.

  4. Hmm, all very interesting about the term and the cloth related. The images you linked to do remind me of cloths and quilts I've seen and related to a French look, for some reason, so it's interesting to find out the background... even if the only real Rouennerie is the stripey one.

  5. The wrought iron balcony in that photo with the word Rouennerie is quite nice. Since we're discussing words, I'm wondering exactly what "terroir" means in the sign above. It doesn;t seem to have a specific translation. Is it the local specialty wine?

  6. Very interesting tidbit about the Rouennerie fabrics. I used to work in a fabric store, and I still accumulate lots of quilting fabrics for sewing, and I'd never heard the term before. But maybe the most interesting part is how it got expanded over time to refer to a whole range of related prints, even though it originated with the very specific woven stripes.

    I have to thank you for all of the photos of the 'austere architecture' of Souvigny, too. Magnificent stuff in its quiet way.

  7. Thanks for the beautiful photo's and the detailed explanations, Ken. It was very nice and interesting to join this trip!

  8. The small-print fabrics shown in your link that are non-Rouennerie remind me of those from Souleiado, which originated with block printing in Marseille and tend to be detailed, often in tones of red. Lots of links out there: https://www.souleiado.com/en/souleiado-universe
    So many interesting textiles from France: silk from Lyon, lace from Alencon, and so on.

  9. Hi Ken, Evelyn and ChM 💐‼
    Happy to read your super blog again ‼
    Bises from the... chamber pot which was very... "dry" this morning thanks to a spring like sun 😉


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