Hemp is in fashion!
Just this once, I'm taking you on a shopping spree in… Cognac-la-Forêt. Yes, that's right. Forget the big retailers and the noisy streets. I fancy the calm of the countryside. However, I'm not going to give up my desire to shop! The Hemp and Glove Museum nestles in the heart of the village. It's an enormous building with 2 distinct exhibition spaces: one dedicated to gloves and the other given over to hemp. It also houses an exhibition hall upstairs and, in a recent extension to the building, a boutique. It's all run by a dynamic non-profit organisation " Patrimoine de Cognac-la Forêt" (Cognac-la Forêt Heritage). Madame Tharaud, who welcomes visitors is one of the most active members and knows how to share her passion.
The part dedicated to gloves mostly houses machines (of which the majority work!), patterns, pieces of leather, tools and all sorts of archives. Cognac's history is linked to this activity and contributed to the village's economy for decades. Note: this visit completely complements that of the glove factory in Saint-Junien. It's a great alternative when the glove factory is inactive.
Let's talk about cannabis!
Yep, hemp is cannabis… Cannabis Sativa Linné to be more precise, for those that speak Latin and the botanists amongst us. But the difference is the marijuana. The hemp we're talking about doesn't contain the psychotropic substance. It was cultivated for ages in the Limousin as a plant for textile making. Things that were made included sheets, clothes, ropes, different canvasses or even paper.
The museum reveals this history to the visitor, but also the rebirth of this crop and its present-day uses. Building insulation, cosmetics… hemp with its many qualities can be useful and efficient in many fields. The museum contains a wealth of information in the form of various presentations. And if you have any questions, Madame Tharaud will know the answers.
Hemp is… in fashion!
The crop grows rapidly, needs little water and no weed killer. It leaves the soil clean and even rested. And everything in hemp is good: the fibres, the wood in the stem and the seeds. To sum up, it's the ideal plant for this era of environmental concerns. Let's head for the boutique (dressed in wood for a warm welcome), the heart of my text. To extend your visit and to promote this little-known plant with its many unsuspected resources, the museum has a line of hemp-based products. And you can find some really surprising things!
Did you know that hemp seeds are excellent for your health and very nourishing? Legend says that even Buddha followed the precepts of asceticism by eating a single seed of hemp per day. These seeds rich in insoluble dietary fibre are easy to digest. They contain essential polyunsaturated fatty acids amongst which are omega 3 and omega 6. And if you add the fact that they have a lovely nutty flavour, I think I've finally convinced you to have some for breakfast or add them to your salads.
Now let's head off for the bathroom and hemp soap which is recommended for sensitive skin. A crafts soap-maker in Limoges makes it for the museum. In testing it (yes, I take my role very seriously!) I found the perfume to be light and is, in fact, very soft on the skin. It's an original made in the Limousin present, no?
And as as for fashion, you can't really call the plastic hemp clogs really stylish… For working outdoors they're ideal and they protect your feet with much less plastic than traditional models while being just as robust.
And staying with feet, hemp socks are ideal for the most sensitive: anti-allergy and antiperspirant they contain between 92 and 94% of hemp and are… very soft! T-shirts and scarves are also on sale. These textiles have the advantage of being light, insulating and breathe and all because of hemp. They are also suitable for people who have skin problems. Moreover they're nice to look at!
To finish, the bag shelf will astonish you with the variety of models from an electronic tablet case to a handbag and even travel bags.
So, don't wait before visiting the museum. It'll remind you, once again, that nature is great and is rich in possibilities. And you'll astonish your friends with unusual presents that are good for them as well as the planet!
- Box of Organic Hemp Seeds €4.50
- Organic Hemp Oil €8.50
- Soap: €2.50/piece - €10 for 4
- Socks (92 to 94% hemp) depending on the model €7.50 to €9.50
- T-shirts from €25 to €35 depending on the model
- Scarf 100% hemp: €28
- Sativa brand bags €17 to €40 depending on the model
- Plasticana® brand clogs made from plastic and hemp: €20
The Musée du Chanvre et de la Ganterie is open every day from 1 July to 31 August from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM. All year round by appointment for groups. Summer exhibition: "Small wedding stories".
Article written by Sophie Trinques of Haute-Vienne Tourisme