The wonder of wickerwork!
A little-known craft is revealed to curious visitors a few miles from Château d’Azay-le-Rideau: wickerwork has been around for centuries but it couldn’t be more modern!
Villaines-les-Rochers: the village and wicker
Villaines-les-Rochers? It’s no surprise if you haven’t heard of it before. There are only around 1000 people living in this little village. Its residents include a lot of artisan wickerworkers making a wide variety of items such as pretty wicker bird boxes:
Wicker is made from willow branches that are cut, soaked in water then peeled and braided! The Indre Valley’s silty and damp land, warm climate and myriad caves dug into the rock helped wickerwork thrive in Villaines-les-Rochers from the 7th century.
Alongside making items specific to certain trades (baking, catering etc.), wickerworkers are brimming with ideas to showcase willow in all its glory. They’ve been working with Hermès for decades. For example, the cooperative made the “Kelly Picnic” and “Garden Picnic” bags for the luxury designer whereby the wonder of wicker is enhanced by leather and silk.
Wicker souvenir gifts made in Touraine
Either alone or together in cooperatives, wickerworkers put their skill, talent and passion into braiding baskets, bags, jewellery, lights, trunks, chairs, hampers, decorations and more. If you’re looking for an original gift for your friends and family then come this way.
The village’s Wicker and Basketry Museum gives you an insight into this exciting world along with an educational trail (5.2km/2 hours) and a bike path (21km/2 hours). Be sure to visit artisan shops too. Most of them provide workshops and classes alongside their creations.