Silk, a flourishing industry, social changes and more silk.

It was on the banks of the Saône River that Lyon’s history in silk began. During the Renaissance, in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the great fairs brought the early traders in silk to Lyon, and the industry began to flourish.

So it continued, however it was never all ‘silky’ smooth industry. By the 18th century, silk production was the pillar of Lyon’s economy: 28,000 people were registered as silk workers in 1788. ‘Canut’ is the name for the person making the silk and in Croix Rousse there is a very small, but none the less interesting museum telling you about it and also about the ‘Silk Riots’ As if the French Revolution was not enough the unrest over the class structure and rates of pay continued and erupted again and again with the silk workers. (For  more information click on the Silk Riots link, and it saves me from writing it all here.)

If you are in Croix Rousse it is only a two euro entry and you can ask for an English translation should you require one. There is of course a shop on the way out.

Continuing the silk theme I then continued by walking down into town to find the ‘L’Atelier de Soierie’ cunningly concealed through an archway up a passageway at the back of the Place des Terreaux. It is in Rue Romarin, but don’t go up the hill, as I did asking various people, it is at the bottom on your right.

Here you can see the process of the screen printing and hand colouring on the velour. I was itching to have a go alas, not to be. Here is a short video I made of the two processes. Click on the picture below.