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Next was St Jean de Fos, a quick visit to buy a block of their earthenware clay. La meme madame who was selling wine at the Pont du Diable was vending the clay in Argileum a day later. We recognised each other, and she commented laconically that she shells wine one day, and clay the next.

The Argileum has, in my opinion, been a mixed blessing for the village. A lot of people seem to use it for free parking, and there is a € 6 entry fee, so most people do a quick tour and don’t even go round the potteries. It is more like a museum of a lost art, and although there is a good gift shop, it has a rather self-conscious feeling.

Sadly, the pottery workshops in the village have abandoned all the old yellow earthen-ware that used to be made there, and most of them are selling more studio pottery with little relevance to the terroir. I guess there is positive and negative dimensions to that, but I feel it’s a shame when people lose the sense of place in their pottery. We went to one last year that was selling striking dark runny glazes that reminded me of some of the acrylic drizzles in the art shops in Nant. It doesn’t have a feeling of authenticity or locality, or even that local materials are being used

There are pottery fairs all over France, and St Jean de Fos is still on the list, but it definitely feels less interesting. The village has a restaurant that is apparently very good, and the vineyards nearby are worth visiting. Montpeyroux, St Saturnin and Jonquieres are our traditional favourites.

 

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