Lyon, eternal capital of silk

Lyon Unique Tours Factory
09 May 2016

Lyon, eternal capital of silk

Since the Renaissance, the city of Lyon is one of the main hubs of silk production in the world and enjoys a worldwide recognition. For over 5 centuries and until today, its inhabitants have preserved a unique know-how from the spinning to the weaving and the design. Thanks to the guide Virginie, I was able to discover the fascinating history of the Lyon silk industry.

The development of silk in Lyon

When on royal decision fairs thrive in Lyon, many cloth merchants from around the world settled in the city. Later, Louis XI decided to centralize the production of silk in Lyon that went gradually up and became the main wealth of the city, creating many jobs – including those of the Canuts, the silk weavers .

Over the centuries, while technological progress offers new opportunities for fabrics (colors, patterns), and machines (looms) orders flow from all sides, especially in the fashion industry. The 18th century was considered the golden age of silk in Lyon, making the town an economic power.

The revolt of Canuts, turning point in the silk history

While in the 19th century, working conditions and remuneration became more insecure for the Canuts, they decide to revolt and seize the Croix-Rousse, the main part of the silk industries (a UNESCO World Heritage today). The strike of the silk workers and confrontations with the armed forces slowed down and reduced the silk manufacturing process.

The Lyon silk, a tradition and recognized know-how

Thanks to the development of high fashion in the 20th century, Lyon continues to thrive but the Italian and Asian competition is fierce and many shops closed gradually. Today, there are still artisans committed to the values of the past. The houses Prelle, Chatel, and Brochier are part of them and have kept their reputation, primarily in the areas of lingerie and ready-to-wear. There are also many museums in Lyon and silk workshops witnessing the history.

Lyon silk tour


Discovery of the Lyon silky industry with demonstration of weaving and silk painting

With: Virginie
Duration: 1/2 day

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The capital of silk and gastronomy

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