Normandy is the Land of Linen, the leading flax-growing region in France and the source of almost 50% of the world’s production. Flax is part of its identity and heritage.
From food to clothing, furniture, decoration, construction and even the automotive industry for door and seat trim, linen is a real treasure. Here’s a little stroll through the Land of Linen, for example, in your spare time during the holidays…
In the Normandy countryside and along the coast, flax is a traditional, local product.
In fact, Seine-Maritime alone grows 19,000 hectares of Linen out of a total of 60,000 in France. Its temperate, humid oceanic climate, low temperature range and silt-rich soil are particularly well-suited to growing Linen, which produces high-quality fibre.
Its natural cycle is fairly rapid, reaching maturity in 100 days. Sowing takes place between mid-March and mid-April. Flowering takes place in June and lasts 15 days, giving the fields a delicate bluish hue. In July, it’s time to harvest the plants. The fibres are then laid flat on the ground in a windrow for retting.
Throughout the summer, the windrows fade. Under the effect of rain and sun, a fungus develops on the stalks, decomposing the gangue that encloses the textile fibres.
At the beginning of September, the swaths are collected and transported to the combing units known as scutching plants. After scutching and combing, most of the flax fibre is exported, mainly to China.
Guided tour of Linen and its history
In Bourg-Dun, Catherine offers an original guided tour through the heart of the village, using the signs on the “Village du Lin” trail. Textile Linen is highlighted through geology, agriculture, industry and crafts, the fine arts, literature, medicine and composite materials.
You can learn that everything is used in linen and nothing is thrown away. The tour is around 500 metres long and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes.
Long fibres are used to make clothing, wall coverings, furnishings and technical fabrics. Short fibres are used to make paper and eco-materials such as insulation and composites. The hard parts are used to make chipboard. The mixed straws will be used to improve horse bedding.
The final waste products will be used to make various garden items. As for linseed oil, in addition to its traditional uses, it is used in the composition of new plastics used in the automotive and aeronautical industries. By the end of your visit, you’ll know all about Linen.
A Linen eco-museum
The history of Linen in the Pays de Caux goes back to the 13th century!
At the ferme aux fil des saisons near Valéry-en-Caux, an eco-museum retraces the destiny of this plant known since the dawn of time, from an exhibition of tools from yesteryear to explanations of new outlets.
There’s also a room devoted to the development of flax-based agricultural machinery. Antoine, a farmer and flax grower, has designed this exhibition to reveal all the facets of this plant, which has many uses: for food, textiles and industry.
The old family spinning mill opens its doors and you can see the evolution of industrial technology. It’s a journey into the past, the present and the near future. Old tools come to life as you watch demonstrations, and new technologies are on display.
Doudeville is located in the heart of the Pays de Caux. This title is due to the fact that in the past, general meetings of flax growers were held in Doudeville. At the time, Doudeville was the only town in the region to have a cloth hall large enough to accommodate Linen growers from the département, representatives of the AGPL and Belgian brokers.
They all met up until the 1970s to talk about the quality of flax, its price and the problems associated with growing it.
This is how the title of Linen Capital came about, and how we preserve it today by organising the Linen Festival (3rd weekend in June) for the past 24 years.
Maison Durozey in Doudeville has been a family business, steeped in tradition and expertise, for 5 generations. When it comes to linen, you’ll be spoilt for choice: 100% linen duvets, ideal for their thermo-regulating properties, bed linen, cushions and washed linen tablecloths, available in a range of contemporary colours.
Here, you’ll also find a host of local and artisanal products made from linen, to the delight of young and old alike!
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