My Travel Blog

A Brief History on French Crystal

Our friends Sal and Edy joined us on Rabelo.  They are ardent foodies, and wanted to savor the gourmet food France is famous for. We decided to visit the Chateau de la Verrerie in Le Creusot on Sunday, which was about a fifteen-minute drive from where we were moored.  Before our visit to La Verrerie Sal and Edysaid they wanted to enjoy the gourmet delights of Le Creusot.  Lisa took out her IPhone and went to work searching for Le Creusot’s finest.  The first restaurant she called was full, and the second one was closed.  She then found an Asian restaurant that was rated quite high.  I protested, and insisted we take our friends to a French restaurant.  Lisa called a few more, but couldn’t find one that we could get into.  Everyone was so hungry that eventually I relented, and agreed to the Asian restaurant.  It had started to rain, and parking was a problem. I dropped Lisa, Sal and Edy off in front, and parked the car.  By the time I got to the restaurant our party was already seated, and ready to eat.  I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was.  Our friends had flown six thousand miles to enjoy the finest food France had to offer, and their first meal was a Chinese buffet.

Eddy enjoying the gourmet Chinese buffet.

A small portion of the buffet.

Now that’s more like it. Enjoying some champagne, cheese, chacuterie, and baguette on Rabelo.

After an okay, but certainly not gourmet, meal of sweet and sour pork, sushi (even though it’s Japanese), fried shrimp, and twenty different desserts we headed off to the chateau.

Louis XVI decided that France needed its own factory that made fine crystal rather than having to buy crystal from the English.  Initially a factory was built in Severs.  Unfortunately the factory was unable to compete with the English due to the transportation costs of the raw materials.  In 1785 they began construction of a new crystal factory in Le Creusot.  The nearby deposits of coal, sand and lead would make the factory far more competitive.  They had to bring in English workers to train the French, but eventually French crystal became even more desirable than it’s English competitors.  Despite changing owners and bankruptcy the factory continued to operate until 1833.  On the brink of financial ruin the factory was sold to the Baccarat Company with the express stipulation that it would not be used to manufacture glass or crystal for fifty years. In 1837 Adolphe and Eugene Schneider bought the factory in Le Creusot, and turned it into a home.  The furnaces to melt the glass still stand at the entrance to the chateau, but the chateau that is now a museum doesn’t look like it could have ever been a factory.

One of two glass furnaces at the entrance to Chateau de la Verrerie.

Chateau de la Verrerie.

Some of the crystal manufactured at Chateau de la Verrerie.

More crystal.

Many of the displays showed how the factories of the area operated. There were also excellent examples of the crystal once made there, along with an amazing model railroad collection.It was hard to believe that Chateau de la Verrerie was ever a glass factory.

One of the many model trains.

The detail work of these models was amazing.

A model factory.

A painting of workers in a local steel foundry.

– Tom Miller

Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– Chuck Palmer Adventure novels

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About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.