When you’d like to take a little break from seeing the Loire’s magnificent chateaux, drive about 7km from Azay-le-Rideau to Villaines-les-Rochers, and discover this French capital of basketry for over eight generations. Since 1849, it has the largest basket makers grouping in France, representing over a third of the profession, a skill which passed until recently from father to son. As you drive along, there are basketwork shops where you can stop and watch the water-willow and green rushes bent and formed into the large variety of shapes from which you can choose. Wicker work is also available, as wicker has been cultivated here since the 8th century. One of the better known of these basketwork magicians is Etienne Metezeau, but there are about 80 families in this special town. Originally, they produced items and baskets needed by peasants and articles for bakery and butchery. Since the 1950s, they opened the field to furniture and decoration, including beautiful artworks. We bought as much as we could take back on the plane. If you do come, leave enough space in your luggage, or arrange for shipping items that you will otherwise regret leaving behind. Prices are very reasonable for original, one of a kind pieces!
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