September 27, 2021

Luxembourg - We might not have so many rainbows, but we have gorgeous sunsets

Linked with one of the previous posts, the one with the LetzBingo, where I've said it is very hard, if not impossible to catch a rainbow in Luxembourg, well going into the sunset (another box in the game) should be an easy thing. That is because we do have gorgeous sunsets here and I've got a tone of photos showing just that.

They are from all seasons, from all over the place, in towns, in the fields, in my back garden, Spring, Summer, Winter, you name it. Even on gloomy days, somehow the sun manages to show its face just so it can set.

I wanted this to be on the blog, because lately I take a lot of random photos and I'm not using them anywhere, I'm not giving them a second look back, they just sit in my phone. To me, they are lovely and they deserve a show. So here you have it, sunset pictures from Arlonia.

As usual you can find me on my Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

September 20, 2021

France -The Souleiado Museum in Tarascon

At the cause of the pandemic, last year I've discovered the south of France and, most importantly, I've discovered I like it. Also last year, I've discovered an YouTube channel called The Chateau Diaries where the owner of a castle in France started vlogging about life at the castle and about her passions, one of them being old fabrics such as Toile de Jouy and this Souleiado.

I remember briefly that last year on our visit to Tarascon, I've passed by the museum, but did not bother to enter as I knew Souleiado being a luxury brand I find interesting, but not interesting enough to spend my money on. 

But, after seeing Stephanie's vlog at the museum, convinced me that it is actually in line with my passion for the history of textiles. Arriving there I also found out that they allow dogs in the museum and that was the final click that proved it was the right thing to visit. 

So a bit about Souleiado and the printed cotton in Provence, France.

Tarascon is located close to Marseille, a big port, where all the printed fabrics would arrive from India and Turkey, the locals naming the fabrics "indienne". The local craftsmen saw the beauty of those fabrics and started producing their own in most cases employing Armenian craftsmen. Quickly they became more affordable than the embroidered silk produced in Lyon that was in fashion at that time in France. As well they were introduced into the French Royal Court and soon they started replacing the silk. The silk manufacturers complained to the king which was Louis the XIV and he gave an edict banning the wearing, the production and the sale of printed cottons. So the producers in Marseille were forced to either go to England, Switzerland or Alsace, which was in Germany at that time or to go to Avignon, which was under the property of the Pope and not the King. Seeing that his edict did not stop the Provencal printed fabrics, the king gave three years later a second edict, ordering the destruction of everything related to the printing of cotton. The producers, having huge quantities of white cotton,  specialised in quilting, a technique which is called "boutis" and it is to be found even in Romania on the blouses of Banat region. Only in Banat, it met the Balcanic influence and the embroidery is not made with white thread, but with metallic thread, the technique being somewhat similar. 

Two kings later, Marie Antoinette was queen and she loved all the things inspired by the peasant life and she reintroduced printed cottons to the court in Versailles. From then on they were called Provencal fabrics and the women from the region introduced them into their traditional dress. 

In 1806 the first textile factory was open in the convent in Tarascon by Jean Jourdan, it passed from generation to generation and from money crises to money crises until 1916 when it was the last "indienne" (cotton printed as in India) maker in Provence. A chemist, Charles Henri Demery decided to save the factory, bought it and under his influence the factory flourished. His nephew inherited the factory with only 10 employees and made it what we see today. It changed ownership in 2009, but the current owners only continue what was put in place then. All the history is here.

Today, Souleiado is what I would call a luxury brand, its popularity increased when Princess Diana wore a bag produced by Souleiado at a horse race or something and you can find their stores all over the south of France, the closest one to Luxembourg being the one in Paris. 

Souleiado started its textile production with handkerchiefs, ribbons and scarfs like the ones you can see women wearing around their neck and tight around the waist. 

In France as in Romania, children clothes rarely survived, so when you see an every-day dress in a museum look closely and appreciate it. 

I love the delicacy of the everyday clothes

In the museum, besides mannequins dressed in Souleiado fabrics there are a dining area and a bedroom also decorated with printed cotton.

Even the floor is something that I would include in my house today

This is what I was saying above. When the king Louis the XIV gave the edict banning the production of printed cotton, the craftsmen found themselves with a lot of white cotton. So they perfected the trapunto quilting technique from Italy, but called "boutis".  The embroidery from Banat region in Romania is first of all an embroidery technique and not a quilting one, but the result is similar to what you can see in the embroidery loop, just that instead of sewing white fabric over white fabric, you put cotton or wool on the design and cover it with metallic thread. To me it looks similar, to a trained person this could be a lot of rubbish. 

Even the bathrooms in Souleiado Museum are worth a visit

There are a few cases with pottery from the region and it is all lovely, but I've liked this jug the most.

Inside one of the interior courtyards.

There are, of course, the more contemporary Souleiado creations. This one I think I saw on the Chateau Diaries

I love the skirts, but I haven't seen them on their store and I doubt I could let myself buy one as they are expensive, to me.

Come on, tell me this is not something you would wear today?

Finally, Princess Diana's bag in a Souleiado store in Arles, I think.
The museum also has a shop which, to my husband's relief, I forgot to visit :)

I hoped you found this post somewhat interesting. I intend to write such posts from time to time, not only related to textiles, but next will be one on jewellery, another on a very contemporary trend and a love of mine, stripes :), so posts about things that I find interesting, that are not necessarily related to us living in Luxembourg, but the connection is there, always.

This being said, I hope you like reading the post as much as I've enjoyed putting it together. I hope to see you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

September 13, 2021

Luxembourg - Luxembourgish children books, in English

In a multilingual and multicultural country as Luxembourg is I thought there will be a lot of books written by Luxembourgish writers or with the action placed in Luxembourg in English, but to my surprise beside city guides or books about Luxembourg as a country, I couldn't find any books in English. 

They have such a lovely and actual political fable by Michel Rodange, "Renert or the fox in a tailcoat and in human shape Renert oder de Fuuss am Frack an a MaansgrĂ©isst" which I've read in German, I think, but I would have liked to have it in English too and read it to Ilinca when she will be old enough to understand it. They have the tale of Melusina and Siegfried, based of a very old folktale. My colleagues said they grew up with the children books about the adventures of Maus Ketti, a country mouse who visits her cousin in the city and the other way around, a fable by Auguste Liesch. And I'm sure they have so many more, but I could not find anything translated into English.

Just yesterday, I've went to one of the big Luxembourgish book shops in the city and they confirmed that none of the examples above exists in English in a printed form. They guided me to the English book shop close to the Ducal Palace and there I found some books. Completed with what I've already had, here is an article about Luxembourgish books for children.

Of course I will start with my friend's book, "Our magic journey on earth. A book of kindness, friendship and respect" written by Clara Moraru and placed in the City of Luxembourg and Park Merl. It has three stories with lovely illustrations, it was written in English and Luxembourgish and you can order it here.

Another book which is not placed in Luxembourg, but it was written here and illustrated by a Luxembourgish artist I like is "Waking the mountain" written by Marina Fonseca with drawings by Lisa Junius. It is a very sensitive book about an actual topic. You will find it at the English Book Store.

Two books on a similar topic, to me at least, are "Wooow!!! Luxembourg Charlotte and Mister Owl's great adventure" and "Lucilinburhuc's treasure". Their characters are discovering Luxembourg.

In "Wooow!!! Luxembourg Charlotte and Mister Owl's great adventure" the author, Thomas Schoos and the ilustrator, Keong-A Song introduce the reader to Charlotte, a little girl who together with her friend, Mister Owl, tells the story of Luxembourgish places and myths, outside the city limits. 

In "Lucilinburhuc's treasure", two brothers start from the pirate ship playground in the city and following a treasure map, discover the old town and its legends and at the end they discover also a treasure. Written by Marie-Isabelle Callier. You can also find both books at the English book store.

Last but not least, I wanted to tell you about a book written by a mother and independent Luxembourgish artist, Anya Poulles which I've discovered over Instagram at the #mom_lu community. It's not in English, but it is a book for small children from where they can learn basic Luxembourgish words. "Meng eischt wierder" is called and you can order it on Instagram, here. We even wrote the translation in English and Romanian and made our copy multilingual.

It is not a children's book, but it helped me a lot to discover Luxembourg beyond the city guides, it's Anne Faber "Home sweet home... my Luxembourg".  It is indeed a cook book, but with a twist and it has pictures of places from Luxembourg related with food. Anne has five books in English and she is Luxembourgish and she is very active on Instagram.

If you live in Luxembourg and you are interested in books in English, besides the English Book Shop I've mentioned quite a few times, there is an online independent book shop called Little English Bookworm. They are very close to my heart as in the deepest and saddest lockdown they delivered to my door step books for me and Ilinca which made the corona times more colourful. So do check them out.

That is it from me, if you have other examples on books about Luxembourg, placed in Luxembourg or written by Luxembourgish writers, but in English, please dm me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

September 6, 2021

Luxembourg - Small weekend discoveries

We are in that stage of life where we only live for weekends. To me, the week passes very quickly, but come Friday I desperately look for things to do in the weekend so it will last me for the whole next week. Especially, as Saturday is half lost with grocery shopping, I need my Sundays to be filled with stuff to do.

So, if you are like me, my advice would be to look in your vicinity, look to the exhibitions your local museum is hosting, dare to check that sign on your road to work or to the supermarket, pointing to something you think you checked, but actually didn't. 

I did just that and here is what I have discovered:

I have told you numerous times about the exhibitions at Le Palais in Arlon (here and here at least) so one day I've passed the building and I saw they were preparing for a new exhibit. A few days later, I went with Ilinca prepared to not find anything worth longer than the patience of a toddler, but discovered a young artist, who lives nearby in Messancy, and who creates amazing works of art, lace sculpted in wood. Yes, it is very intricate and he must have a lot, but a lot of patience. First of all, the exhibition was organised by Osmoz'art, a group of artists from the Art Academy in Arlon. There were the works of art of twelve people, paintings mostly, but also sculpture and experiments with different mediums. The exhibition was on for just one week, in August 2021. To me, the embroidery and hand made passionate, the sculptures of Julien Feller were the real discovery. 

Another day, while driving to dm in Germany, we saw a sign leading to a Roman villa and mosaic. I thought my husband checked all the Roman vestiges in the area and I've asked how was the mosaic, thinking it is maybe a ruin of a square meter thing not worth my time. He said he did not remember any mosaic so we turned the car and went to check it out. Lo and behold, we discovered a mosaic as long as my back garden, almost intact, or restored anyway, and the ruins of a Roman Villa. Something I encourage you to visit if you live in Luxembourg and do your dm shopping in Perl. The villa and the mosaic are in Nennig, not to be confused with the Roman Villa Borg which is also close. 

If you like books and you go to Luxembourg City often, maybe you will profit from the outdoor library they opened close to the National Library. To me looking at the window, now, this seems a bit pointless, as it is the rainiest Summer to date, but a good book can transport you to another world, right? Also the organisers have planned lectures by known authors and have games and puzzles for children, so do check that thing up. First thing to know, it is on the back of the library, so if you come from Knuedler, down the stairs at Bierger Centre you cannot miss it, from the cathedral, just come to the Town Hall or see the next picture.

Although it has clear instructions in English, I haven't seen any book in English in this pocket library, but they mast have some. So check that out for me, too.

I know this Summer is more of an Autumn, cold and rainy, the lavender is lost, my tomatoes are lost, my carnations are hanging by a thread and only my roses seem to like this weather, I can count on my fingers the times we eat outside or had a bbq, but these small discoveries managed to put a smile on my face and that is all about isn't it?

As usual I am more on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu