We planned to go to the Manufacture des Gobelins for their tour at 1 pm. There were a lot of reviews on line with stories of changed times and inaccurate web information, so we decided to arrive early, just to be sure. When we arrived we found that actually the tour had been cancelled today. What a surprise! We decided to make the best of it with a visit to the gallery.
The Manufacure des Gobelins is a government outfit. The workers are government employees, "fonctionnaires" as they are called in France. It was founded in the 16th century by Louis XIV with his minister Colbert, to develop high class, luxury furnishings and to train artisans who could produce them. It has been functioning ever since.
All this was explained by a guard who we engaged in conversation. We wondered why all the workbenches were set up as part of he exhibits. She explained that in the afternoons, some of the workers come across and do demonstrations in the exhibit halls. But we'd have to wait until 2:30 to see them. That was all the encouragement we needed. It was lunchtime and that would give us just time for a nice meal.
We found a small place called La Manufacture. We ate steak and clafoutis while watching pedestrians armed with umbrellas splash through puddles. The rain had let up by the time we finished and headed back to the museum.
Here we found a group of visitors getting ready to enter, and sure enough the workers were at their benches. I was particularly interested by the two women restoring a tapestry. We had a wonderful conversation about their work. One woman told me she was right handed except for her sewing which she did left handed. Both women had been working together in a profession they loved for almost 50 years. I think spending time talking with them was better than a guided visit.
It was still raining when we left the museum. We picked up some groceries because tomorrow is a holiday and we weren't sure what would be open. The Bakery will be closed.
Tonight we're going to take in a movie.