Antique Sewing Supplies in a Very Old French Town

Last Sunday it was Spring in Provence, so we took a short bus ride to the gorgeous little L’Isle Sur la Sorgue, which like all Provincial towns, can clearly be classified as an antique. With it’s many canals and water wheels, some have called it the Venice of France.

I’ve previously referenced the tradition of town markets but this Sunday market was incredible – not only meat, fish, olives, cheese and other delicious things to eat but also it had a huge number of vendors with every possible type of fashionable clothing. In addition there was a large antique market.

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Unlike most antique markets, this one had numerous sellers with antique sewing supplies. While I wasn’t in the market for these items, they gave me a glimpse of France’s lost sewing industry. Here’s a look at some of the lovely items. From top down; shiny thread bobbins (rayon?), huge wood print blocks, cording and miscellaneous.

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Enjoy this look into the past.

Where to Buy Fabric in Provence

Considering that we’re living in a city of approximately 100,000 people, sewing supplies and fabric are amazingly difficult to find in the Avignon area. There is one fabric store in Avignon (Tissu Rotonde I think) which has a reasonable supply of all types of fabric and some patterns but no notions. In our neighborhood in the old city there is one sewing machine shop that sells zippers, some needlework supplies,
nylons and tights. There’s also a haberdashery with adorable buttons and trims. For better or worse, as far as I can tell there are no national chains stores. The important question is: “Are there no home sewists or ???”

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You may know about the amazing European tradition of holding markets in small town. We have visited quite a number of these markets, which are the source for fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, but also the place to buy sewing notions and some fabric. At the Arles market there’s even a sewing machine repair man (above picture). Some vendors have notions.

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Fabric is also sold in the local markets. Vendors have a van loaded with rolls of fabric, which are unloaded on market days. The vendors of course, have a limited supply of fabric and most is home decorator fabric.

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As far as I can tell, the sources for fabric in Rural France, just like in the US. What a sad situation for home sewists. While it’s great that there still is a fabric source, it’s less than ideal. What’s a sewist to do?

From “My Fair Lady”

As a Valentine’s Day special, Avignon University and the Avignon Opera had a real treat for us today.  Members of the Avignon Opera performed a selection of songs from “My Fair Lady”. Of course they sang in French but that made no difference because we were familiar with the music. What a wonderful way to promote the Opera, though I’m not sure how necessary that is in a city that already had a vibrant “arts” community. In fact there’s a theatre around nearly every corner.

While the performers were not in costume for this noontime performance, they did have some of the costumes from a recent production of “My Fair Lady” on display. As you can see below, they are gorgeous.

Wish I could post a short video clip, but WordPress and mobile devices are not a very good combo, so you’ll need to settle for some eye candy.

Enjoy!

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Our Avignon Apartment

Our life is pretty simple these days. After traveling in Northern France (of
course including Paris) and Belgium for several weeks, we settled in to our apartment in Avignon. In Provence, life is pretty laid back. Not that life as a retiree is all that rough anyway, but it feels good to be in a perfectly paced environment to hang out for several months.

Our apartment, which we rented through VRBO is in the heart of the old town, and this is the view from our apartment. It’s one of the towers of the Palace of the Pope, which is the 13th Century home of the Pope.

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The apartment is on a narrow street with barely enough room for a car much less a pedestrian alongside the car. It’s in a very, very old mansion that has been divided into apartments. Ours is on the third floor – 44 steps to be exact. Here are several photos of the inside, which has a huge living area, kitchen, bath and two bedrooms (one with a loft). Soon we’ll need all that space as we have a number of guests in the coming weeks.

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Daily, we go to the market to buy fresh ingredients – it’s so easy to make great food when the fruits, vegetables and meat are so fresh. So while I can’t sew, I am cooking and baking a lot; also reading or listening to audio books and knitting.

That’s it for now. Maybe I’ll actually find a fabric store to blog about.