taube wilson on mon 6 aug 01
I just got back from a trip to France that included three days
in Avignon(this was tacked on to a business trip to Toulouse).
Unfortunately we didn't have a car, which made it impossible to visit
a lot of potteries, but anyhow here's what I know about:
Go to the Avignon tourist office, which is a short walk from the
Gare Avignon Centre on Cours Jean Jaures(becomes Rue de la Republique)
and ask for the brochure "Artisanat d'Art". It lists potters and
potteries in the region, along with info about whether you can arrange
studio tours, etc. I understand that the town of Uzes has a lot of
potters, but I couldn't get there without a car. The brochure also
lists a few potters in Orange(a short train ride from Avignon) and
Apt(I didn't visit either place). I would also recommend sending for
the guidebook that Yvon recommended (it looks similar to the one
I have, but more comprehensive).
In Avignon itself, there's a great shop just up the block and
across the street from the tourist office called Terre e Provence
(on Rue de la Republique). It sells all the same things that the
catalog French Country Living carries, plus more, but the prices are
much lower and they'll ship. They also had really cute miniatures
for 30 francs(about $4). There were lots of other shops that sold
pottery of varying degrees of quality. Check out the shops along
Rue des Marchands. Lots of tourist junk, but a few gems. There's
also a contemporary craft shop at Place St.Pierre(I think)--it's next
to a Creperie on a little square) where I saw some really nice pottery
done in an "updated" traditional style. Also, there are art galleries
in the upscale neighborhood just south of the Palais des Papes, but
a lot of the pottery was tourist stuff.
I also picked up a brochure for a pottery in Uzes called Terra Viva
( http://www.galerie-terraviva.com/ ) which looks pretty nice.
The only pottery listed in the "Artisanat" brochure that I could
get to was the Poterie Le Gueu in Villeneuve lez Avignon, run by M.Joel
Charles. Nice pots! He stepped through the shop while I was
looking and said a quick Hi, but I got shy and didn't really speak
with him(my French is understandable but not fluent). I highly
recommend visiting Villeneuve lez Avignon - it's a medieval suburb
of Avignon, a 15 minute city bus ride from town(ask at the Tourist
Office). We were there on a Thursday, which was Market Day, and
there was also a potter selling traditional rustic Provencal pottery
at the Farmer's Market (right opposite where the bus drops you off-
you can't miss it). But get there early, since all of the markets
seem to be mornings-only.
We went to Arles(by train). We also happened to get there on Market
Day(I think it was Wednesday-you can check) and there were a couple of
people selling rustic country pottery, plus one selling Moroccan-style
pots. Along the park there was a huge flea-market with a number of vendors
selling antique Provencal pots. (I didn't keep my map of
Arles, so I can't tell you names of streets, unfortunately). If we'd had a
car or more time we would have gone to St.Remy and
Baux-en-Provence. We visited Baux 20 years ago, and it's a really
interesting place, but I'm afraid(from the looks of the brochures I
saw) that it's become a lot more touristy since then. We had also
hoped to go to Nimes, but didn't have time. (If you're thinking of
going to Nimes and want a little preview, there's an interesting
short story by A.S.Byatt called "Crocodile Tears" in her book
"Elementals". I also love her little three-story book "Matisse
Stories", especially the one about the artist and the housekeeper).
I didn't bring back a lot of pots, since I didn't want to ship(and
there's not much room left in my house to put things anyhow).
But the pottery was extremely inexpensive -- I just kept thinking that
French potters were not exactly getting rich -- and it would be
worth the shipping if you're so inclined.
We stayed at the Hotel Medieval, which was extremely charming, clean
and quiet(as long as you don't require air-conditioning and TV, and
also there's no elevator). Our room faced the inner courtyard, and we had a
view out over the terra- cotta rooftops(all for 330FF/night).
But don't stay there if you prefer a big hotel with lots of services.
I guess you've also figured out by now that we like to walk a lot.
We enjoyed eating at the Pizzeria le Brantes on Rue Petite
Fusterie(just west of the Place d'Horlogue). We ate outdoors in the
courtyard. (Since we don't eat meat, the local cuisine was pretty
Hope you have a great time!
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