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Why is household linen popular in Gérardmer?

Gérardmer, nicknamed the Pearl of the Vosges, is closely linked to the textile industry, particularly the household linen sector. In the 19th century, the Vosges was dotted with homes with flax fields. The inhabitants spun and wove the linen to create clothes and household linen, activities that shaped the local economy. The large-scale bleaching of linen, using traditional techniques, contributed to the development of the region's textile industry.
You're bound to be familiar with these famous names: Bleu des Vosges, Garnier-Thiebaut, Linvosges, La Ligne Verte, Tradition des Vosges, François Hans - Blanc des Vosges...

But where does this history between textiles and Gérardmer come from? Why do we produce household linen in the Pearl of the Vosges?

Nestling in the heart of the Vosges mountains, the picturesque town of Gérardmer, nicknamed the Pearl of the Vosges, is much more than just a popular tourist destination. It is the cradle of a rich textile tradition, particularly in the field of household linen, dating back to the end of the 19th century.

At that time, homes in the Vosges often had fields of flax. Spinning and weaving were part of the daily routine, often carried out by couples during the cold seasons. This domestic production of clothing and household linen was not only essential to the survival of families, but also a source of additional income, with certain parts of the products being resold.

The linen bleaching process, once carried out on a small scale in each household, has taken on an industrial dimension in Gérardmer. Ancestral bleaching techniques, using wood ash and rain to clean the linen cloths, were adapted to meet growing demand. The first finishing and bleaching industries were born, marking the beginning of the textile industry's boom in the region.

Among the pioneers of this industry were Garnier-Thiébaut, who opened his first factory in 1833 with the creation of Garnier-Thiébaut weaving mills, the result of the union of Jean-Baptiste Garnier, founder of a cloth merchant, and Virginie Thiébaut, daughter of a household cloth manufacturer.

They were followed by François Hans in 1865, Alphonse Claude in 1879, Nathan-Lévy (now Jacquard Français) in 1902 and La Linière in 1920.

These companies played a crucial role in using cutting-edge technology and importing top-quality linen yarn from Flanders, helping to consolidate Gérardmer's reputation as a renowned textile centre.

Today, Gérardmer's textile heritage lives on. The town is home to a multitude of specialist shops selling a wide range of household linen, from tea towels and bathrobes to sheets and tablecloths. Tourists flock to these shops, attracted by the quality and authenticity of Vosges products.

Despite the challenges posed by foreign competition, the Vosges textile industry remains resilient. Companies such as La Ligne Verte continue to thrive thanks to their expertise and their ability to adapt to market trends.

Gérardmer remains a symbol of the textile history of the Vosges, where tradition and innovation blend harmoniously to perpetuate a precious heritage.