Thursday, 18 September 2014

'Travail bleu'

We found an old cobwebby suitcase in the loft, with unworn 'travail bleu' work clothes, and dear OH fell on them with utter glee, but nothing really fitted him. So, I carefully removed the paper labels, washed everything, fixed the labels back, and put some of the clothes up for sale.

'Travail bleu' is the name given to the tough blue cotton jackets, trousers and overalls that French men wear for manual work.  These day of course, everything has been modernised and young guys tend to go for more fashionable easy-to-launder poly-cotton in trendy greens and greys.  You still see lots of workmen in 'travail bleu', and gardeners too.  The old blue cotton is much more comfortable to wear than the poly-cotton or nylon overalls.

Finding the suitcase fits in neatly with a story that was told to us by an elderly gentleman who worked at the wood yard nearby.  He used to live in our house when he was young - it was owned by a widow who rented rooms out to make ends meet.  All her tenants were young lads who either worked on local farms or at the wood yard.

We bought the house from her family after she died - every bedroom had a kitchen sink and a lock on the door; now we know why - Madame's tenants.

Anyway, we have sold some of the contents of the suitcase, with more to come, but the 'travail bleu' seems to be as popular in UK as in France!


  1. When I was last in France, we visited a lovely shop in Albi which sold tiny pots of pastel (woad). I bought one home, bleu de ciel, a pale version of travail bleu, but just as beautiful

  2. I only know woad from my history books back in school - how interesting that you can still buy it!



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