The small Provençal village of Vallabrègues located on the shores of the Rhone (near Tarascon) has been hosting a basket festival "Fête de la Vannerie" for the past 15 years. Over 80 basket weavers from across Europe are scheduled to attend the 2010 event scheduled for Saturday August 7th through Sunday August 8th.
Some exhibitors simply sell their wares while others take made-to-measure orders for those of you who are in need of that perfect picnic basket. The entire village is decorated with baskets and women and young girls in traditional Provençal costumes can be seen throughout the village.
In the late 1890's the population of Vallabrègues was just over 1800 and 450 of them were basket weavers. The reeds growing in the Rhone provided all the raw materials needed for this thriving industry. At the turn of the century baskets were used for transporting wine, fish, bottles, fruit, clothing - the list is endless. But then someone invented plastic and cardboard and modern day packaging was born.
These Festivals illustrate both an effort to revive local industry and also to preserve the know-how of artisans. Many workshops are held throughout the weekend for people who want to give it a try. For more information go to www.fetedelavannerie.com
If you can't make it this August you can visit the basket museum in the village year round from Wednesday through Sunday. Summer: 1 April through 31 October from 3 pm until 7 pm and Winter: 1 November until 31 March from 2 pm until 6 pm. The museum doesn't have a website but it is located in the Grand Café which is really easy to find.