For millennia, the River Cher in the Loire valley has carried passengers and cargo along its waterways. The beauty of the route makes it an obvious choice for French canal holidays, and those who embark on the voyage are seldom disappointed with the culture, spectacular scenery and wonderful towns and villages along the route; a route that stretches out to the Atlantic. |
One of the many delightful towns on the waterway through the Loire is Gien. With a rich historical culture, architecture and vibrancy, this beautiful spot is distinctly French. Canal holidays that take in this wonderful place get to enjoy the famous pottery which people flock from all over the world to see.
The famous pottery of Gien makes for a great excursion when on a French canal holiday, as it is something that is best appreciated in the city where it is produced. It is an earthenware of supremely high quality, and has a beautiful white glaze that gives it a similar look to porcelain. Involving a double baking method, this pottery making was developed in the Middle East over a thousand years ago, before making its way to Europe via Spain.
The popularity of Faience in France came about through war. When Louis XIV wanted to ensure that his armies had enough money to fight, he raised taxes very significantly on silver and gold tableware. Of course, these increases led to a rise in the production and value of earthenware, and Faience in France was born.
Faience in Gien
Gien’s reputation is built on this magnificent earthenware and it is proud of its heritage as a place of skilled production. Since the late 1800s the reputation of Faience in Gien has increased worldwide and there is a wonderful museum dedicated to the finest local products. It’s a top sight for fans of pottery and artistic practice when on a French canal holiday.
Of course, while you won’t be able to take home any of the priceless artefacts in the museum, there are plenty of opportunities to purchase the pottery as a souvenir. Wander around Gien and you’ll find lots of places with beautfiul pieces for sale.
Barge trips in this part of the world offer a brilliant way to experience the culture and customs of many towns and cities that are classically French. Canal holidays are nearly always made better when booked with reputable tour operators, who can ensure that your time on the water is as relaxing and comfortable as possible.
There are few holidays as special as one on board a barge that weaves through the romantic and beautiful Loire Valley. The Faience pottery that you can see in Gien is a real standout, but is by no means all that this route has to offer. There are countless wonders on offer to those taking the trip.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury French canal holiday itineraries. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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