When visiting Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, the question arises what came first: the potters or the name of the village? That’s what I tried to find out when visiting this creative settlement a stone’s throw from Uzès and between the triangle of Avignon, Nîmes and Alès. More than 40 craftsmen and women, of whom over 20 potters, have found their home in the centre of this bustling village. Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie can rightly be called the capital of ceramics!
Tour de l’horloge
As the family and I were enjoying a little holiday in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, Chéri and I went on foot to get some groceries. We told the kids we would be back shortly, but Chéri knew what was coming when we walked into the picturesque village. I couldn’t help myself and gently lured him to stroll around the centre and its cute little roads. Luckily for Chéri, the ‘tour de l’horloge’ (clocktower) was closed. Its foundation dates from the 11th century, while the stone tower was built in the 18th century. The upper part was renovated in the 19th century. From May to September, you can climb the stairs from Wednesday to Sunday (afternoon only) to the top with a guide. For 4 euros per person, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the Uzès region and even spot the Duché d’Uzès.
A good start to visiting Saint-Quentin-de-la-Poterie is the Mediterranean Pottery Museum– or the Musée de la Poterie Méditerranéenne. Housed in a former olive oil mill, this museum explains all about the history of ceramics. By means of two collections, utensils both from the village and Mediterranean countries are displayed. I came back to visit the museum at my own pace without Chéri and the kids, thinking I’d quickly take a tour. However, I found it highly interesting and spent an hour diving into the ceramic world. I was inspired by the objects and the way they were presented in a terracotta colour scheme. On top of that, the museum yearly highlights a new exhibition around a specific theme, artist or collection. Next door, you will find the Terra Viva gallery with contemporary ceramic art exhibitions. It has a great shop that sells work from national and international artists.
Handmade arts and crafts
On the day Chéri and I explored the village together, we went further into the maze of little streets. Peeks through open doors revealed potters in action, and we even saw ceramic art on the walls. Although Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie is only small, we still managed to get slightly lost. I didn’t mind though, as it left me enough time to discover the various artists. We were there in October, and I guess it was a lot quieter than in summer. Not every restaurant and shop was open, however some of them were, to my delight. I don’t exactly remember which potteries I visited, but if you like handmade arts and crafts, there’s something for all tastes. The one I do remember is Galerie Fea-art (picture in the middle), where sculptor and etcher Françoise Agnan gave me a tour through her inspiring workshop. And at Sabine Céramique I bought my Christmas gift.
Going back to our holiday home- a few hours later than promised to the kids- I realised that I hadn’t found out more about the village’s name. It needed a bit more investigation at home, but now I can inform you that it comes from a martyr of the Picardy department in the north of France named Quentin de Vermand. However, as potters had settled the area for over seven centuries, it was only logical to add the pottery part to the village name. It also distinguished the village from the other 32 Saint-Quentin’s in France at that time. And so, the name changed in 1886. Et voilà, question solved: first there were potters, and then there was Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie!