A textile workshop that dates to the 17th century, the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins offers visitors a glimpse into artisanal weaving practices. Established by Louis XIV’s Finance Minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, in 1662, the factory still produces tapestries for various governmental institutions today.The Basics
Created when several disparate workshops were brought together under one roof, the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins—named for an influential family of French dyers—was founded by Colbert with the aim of producing tapestries, textiles, and furniture for the king. Barring a period of closure during the French Revolution, the factory has operated ever since; today, it is managed by the French Ministry of Culture. Though the building that housed the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins was badly damaged by fire in the late 19th century, it was rebuilt in the early 20th century by architect Jean-Camille Formigé. In addition to the main workshops, the campus also encompasses the Galerie des Gobelins and several historical structures, including the former residence of royal painter Charles Le Brun.
Visitors looking to discover the workshops will need to book their tickets in advance, though the impressive exterior of the beaux arts building can be admired on custom driving and walking tours of Paris.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Galerie des Gobelins is free to visit on the first Sunday of the month.
- Visitors to the atelier can see trained weavers producing tapestries according to traditional methods; only a few tapestries are produced each year.
- The Chapelle Saint-Louis des Gobelins, an on-site chapel built in the 18th century for the weavers, also features noteworthy paintings and other artworks.
The Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins is located at 42 Avenue des Gobelins in the 13th arrondissement. The site can be reached by Métro (take line 7 to Les Gobelins) or by bus (take line 27, 47, 83, or 91). Alternatively, you can travel by car, on foot, or by Vélib’ bike.
When to Get There
The Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins is open to visitors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; all reservations must be made in advance. The Galerie des Gobelins, on the other hand, is open whenever temporary exhibitions are on display. Visit from 11am to 6pm Tuesday–Sunday (except on December 25, January 1, and May 1).
The Galerie des Gobelins
Though the Galerie des Gobelins does not always have temporary exhibitions on display, the venue is a must-visit when shows are scheduled. It is known for displaying rare pieces from Le Mobilier National’s tapestry collection, which is considered one of the finest in the world.