A little unknown fact about the north of France: it is one of very few locations where lace is still being produced! The little town of Caudry, located just 20 minutes from Cambrai, is home to Le Musée des Dentelles, or the Lace Museum.
Located inside an old lace-making factory dating back from 1898, the museum includes several different aspects. For just a few euros, you are first presented with a short, informative video about the history of lace making, and then are given a quick but interesting guided tour of the lace-making process, from start to finish. The guide explains how the Leavers machines work, and you actually get to see them producing authentic lace patterns– the details are exquisite!
Upstairs, you will find a contemporary textile exhibition made up of various samples of lace dresses and embroideries from the Caudry area. The museum also sponsors various expositions every year.
Perhaps the most recent event to put Caudry on the map was the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011! That’s right, the Duchess of Cambridge herself chose the know-how lace-makers of Caudry to provide some of the material for her wedding dress. Rumor has it that designers first offered the Dutchess two different designs, well before the wedding. But suddenly, three weeks before the big day, the Royal Family made an urgent request, and a spontaneous rendez-vous was made at Lille Europe, where a case full of lace was exchanged and transferred on a Eurostar train back to London.
If you ever have a free afternoon, I recommend a trip to the Lace Museum. (It’s also a great place to buy some inexpensive yet pretty and unique gifts!)