A short drive inland from Boulogne, you find the small lively market town of Desvres. The name of Desvres is synonymous with beautiful earthenware pottery, known the world over for centuries and the clock in the prime position in the main square certainly bears testament to this local industry. Every Tuesday there is a bustling weekly market. Desvres has a good choice of restaurants and all the usual shops, including several selling the local earthenware. In addition, there are walks in the surrounding countryside to enjoy, especially around the Mont Pelé, for the energetic.
Created in 1991, the ‘Maison de la Faïence’ was conceived to safeguard and conserve the collections of the Musée de la Céramique. The dramatic modern design of the museum resembles giant wall tiles. It is also a place of innovation thanks to the programme of the Maison d’Artiste, where since 1993, various visual artists have been encouraged to explore a relationship with ceramics for the first time and to develop new lines in collaboration with the traditional methods of Desvres. The Museum www.desvresmuseum.org features traditional designs and also some strikingly modern creations. It is proud of its past but it also looks to its future. With three main rooms, it covers the history of production, the manufacturing process and some original pieces as well as a temporary room of exhibitions which is changed three times a year. The exhibitions cover the traditions of the Desvrois as well as contemporary art and have been held for the past ten years.
There are many visits to choose from whether to the factory or to various local workshops. Some focus on architecture or the environment which open up other angles towards ceramic production. The circuit ‘Les Arts du Feu’ is a day long programme in which you first of all discover the skills of the ‘Desvrois’ visiting the ‘Faïencerie of Masse-Fourmaintraux’ as well as the ‘Maison de Faïence, Musée de la Céramique’. For lunch, three restaurateurs from the canton of Desvres propose traditional dishes . This is followed by a visit to l’Arc International (the original factory of Cristallerie of Arques) in order to appreciate the magic of the furnace.
Another trip is “Desvres – from the stoneware to the earthenware” or faïence. This takes you to discover the superb facades and interiors of cafés and brasseries decorated with the tiles, mostly from the previous century. It is fascinating to take a tour of the workshops and allow the guides to explain what the craftsmen and artists are producing before your very eyes. The production of the Desvres pottery started in the 18th century and was based on the methods used in such porcelain works as Delft, Rouen and Strasbourg. It was not until the 19th century that they began to manufacture the decorated tiles to complement the dishes, plates and vases for which they were already famous.
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Distance from Coquelles - 43 mins - 47 Kms (Approx)
Tourist Office, Rue Jean Macé, BP 47, 62240. Tel 0033 (0)3 21 87 69 23 / Fax 0033 (0)3 21 83 44 45
Copyright text : Sarah Francis.