Destination Aubusson, the capital of tapestry in Creuse

? Article published on May 15, 2024
✅ Updated on May 15, 2024

Nestled in the heart of Creuse, the city of Aubusson nevertheless asserts itself as the capital of a century-old art: the tapestry. Appearing in the Middle Ages, this exceptional know-how is today classified as an intangible cultural heritage of theUNESCO. The fame of Aubusson is, however, not only due to the talent of its weavers, but also to its architectural and natural riches. Between bright hangings and sumptuous drapes, embark on an artistic and colorful journey to Aubusson, one of the most beautiful detours in France.

Landscapes of Aubusson in Creuse © Getty – Lucentius

Aubusson, historic town in Creuse

Welcome to Aubusson, a small town full of history located in the Creuse countryside. Founded during the Gallo-Roman era, the city did not begin to develop until much later. Becoming a viscounty towards the end of the 9th century, Aubusson went through many adventures over the following centuries until the end of the Hundred Years’ War when the town experienced real growth. And yes, it is during the 16th century that the works of local weavers began to invade castles and noble residences. This is the beginning of the artistic fame of Aubusson in France : tapestry is becoming trendy!

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Discovery of the city of Aubusson © Getty Images

What is the Aubusson tapestry?

It’s beautiful, it’s soft, of course, but what exactly is an Aubusson tapestry? Already renowned for its preserved nature, Creuse also benefits from international artistic fame thanks to his know-how. This now historic practice, however, has a mysterious origin.

The origins of tapestry in Aubusson

As always in History, facts are lost in favor of tales and legends. Thus, the origin of the Aubusson tapestry is debated among historians. While some find oriental roots there, others see it more as a European establishment. According to the first, it is the Ottoman prince Zizim in exile in Creuse (15th century) who is said to have initiated this practice. A theory refuted by the latter who for their part credit the Flemish upholsterers arrived at the same time in the region. Anyway, they are French, the Augeraing brotherswho is credited with the authorship of the first Aubusson tapestries in 1501. Well done to them!

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Aubusson tapestry in Arles © Wikipedia

Recipe for making an Aubusson tapestry

Like the best pastries, the Aubusson tapestry requires a precise and rigorous craftsmanship. The process begins with the design of a cardboard, a real-size drawing of the future tapestry. From there, the weaver can get to work. Installed at his loom, he positions the cardboard behind the warp threads. He chooses the woolen threads then weaves, from bottom to top, following the model. To do this, he uses a shuttle, a tool that allows the weft thread to be passed between the warp threads. Each pass of the shuttle corresponds to a weaving stitch, thus gradually forming the pattern of the tapestry. This long creative process (sometimes several months!) makes each Aubusson tapestry a unique work.

The gesture of the weaver (Aubusson tapestry) – Nouvelle-Aquitaine video guide

Aubusson among the most beautiful detours in France

The subject of numerous exhibitions, the Aubusson tapestry is today the darling of international museums. However, the city is far from being limited to its textile heritage! On site, nearly six centuries of history can be discovered between cobbled streets and turreted houses. It is also its authenticity which has allowed it since 2002 to appear among the 108 most beautiful detours in France. Because yes, in addition to its rich heritage, Aubusson is a destination that brings together the cream of tourism. Green landscapes, lively festivals or local specialties, all the ingredients are there for a successful stay. A little gourmet tip: don’t hesitate to try the Creuse cake, a treat!

Did you know ? The Most Beautiful Detours in France

The Most Beautiful Detours of France are a network of 108 small towns carefully selected for their charm and authenticity. Each commune offers a unique experience, combining historical heritage, picturesque landscapes and local flavors, inviting visitors to discover the diversity and beauty of France in a different way.

type="image/webp">View of Aubusson Castle - Getty Images>

View of Aubusson Castle © Getty Images

The must-sees of Aubusson

Rather nature or architecture? Whatever your preferences, there is no shortage of must-sees in Aubusson.

Architectural and cultural heritage

From medieval buildings to 20th century buildings, every street corner has a surprise. Here is a non-exhaustive list of local must-sees :

  • The International Tapestry City: located in the former National School of Decorative Art of Aubusson, it presents six centuries of textile creation over 1200m² of exhibition space. It’s the must-do in Aubusson!
  • The Clock Tower: also known as the “white tower”, this building is the last vestige of medieval fortifications. Serving as the facade of the tower, three dials indicate the time.
  • The Holy Cross Church: Built in the 13th century, the church has two particularities, its square bell tower and its numerous stained glass windows.
  • The Terrade district: this ancient center of tapestry crafts is renowned for its wooden houses. Don’t forget to take a look at the local little bridge!
  • Aubusson Castle: or rather what’s left of it! It is still worth the detour offering a nice view of the Creuse countryside.

The International Tapestry City – Practical information

  • Address : Rue des Arts, 23200 Aubusson, France.
  • Schedules : Open every day except Tuesday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. & from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Hours modified in summer (closed December 25, January 1 and May 1).
  • Prices : Full – €8.50 | Reduced – €6 | Free for under 18s.
  • Contact : +33 (0)5 55 66 66 66
  • Services : Guided tours by reservation, accessible to disabled people.
  • Website

Closure of the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie site for work from August 27, 2024 until the end of 2024.

type="image/webp">Collection of the Aubusson Museum - Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie>

Collection of the Aubusson Museum © Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie

Outdoors in Aubusson

Between steep hills and tumultuous river, Aubusson offers a dazzling natural panorama. On one side, the large green forests appreciated by hiking enthusiasts. On the other, Lake Aubusson d’Auvergne, perfect for taking a dip or taking a canoe trip. You will have understood, here, all styles of landscapes are there! It is also this same nature that inspired the greatest impressionist painters.

type="image/webp">The landscapes of the town of Aubusson - Getty Image>

The landscapes of the town of Aubusson © Getty Images

A trip to the great outdoors in Creuse

Much more than just a city, Aubusson is the perfect mix between culture, nature and history. In the middle of preserved landscapes, it is the ideal entry point to spend a disconnected weekend in Dig. With its numerous facilities, the department also lends itself readily to a sporting stay to discover the Plateau de Millevaches. In any case, with the return of sunny days, we advise you to take a look!

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