December 04, 2017

Avignon: Street of the Dyers

At this time of year when I look out the window and it’s cold, dark and dreary, I really appreciate the uplifting effects of colour. And the vibrant print of a Provencal fabric never fails to put a smile on my face. The vivid yellows, reds and blues whisper ‘summer’ to me. Avignon’s Rue des Teinturiers, Street of the Dyers, is where these lively textiles originated.

A Rainbow of Provencal Prints

Traditional Provencal designs are inspired by Indiennes prints, the brightly coloured cotton fabrics that were imported from India to the port of Marseille in the 16th century. French versions of the popular prints were soon produced in the textile mills of Avignon and today’s motifs still reflect the colours and themes found in the local landscape like olives, lavender and the sea.

On a quiet Sunday morning I headed out to explore Rue des Teinturiers. The shops and cafés were still closed but a group of artists had gathered beneath the plane trees to do some sketching. The small stream running along the street is a branch of the Sorgue River that once turned the water wheels to power the city’s textile mills.

Rue des Teinturiers, Street of the Dyers

Water Wheel

Sorgue Canal

The cobblestoned street is now lined by a row of unique car barriers carved out of limestone blocks.

Limestone Car Barriers

I was disappointed that I’d arrived too early for un café on Rue des Teinturiers. But the warm summer memory of a cup enjoyed on Square Agricol Perdiguier is one I can embrace on the frosty days to come.

Un Café on Square Agricol Perdiguier

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