Some of Arques' world-famous crystal
You can tour the visitor centre and small
museum of Arques' huge glassware factory, and buy
products at its factory shop. 11,000 people work here
on round-the-clock shifts. It is the largest employer in the
coastal region of Nord Pas-de-Calais - a vital part of the
The works was founded by the Durand
family in 1825 to make demijohns for Bordeaux winemakers.
For the next century it remained a small local
Then in 1930 Jacques Durand went to the USA and visited
several American glassworks, learning about the latest
mass-production techniques. On his return, the old
mouth-blowing craft techniques were replaced by industrial
methods - tank furnaces and non-stop production.
Groups can arrange to see an
audio-visual presentation of the modern mass-production of
glass - with an overview of the complete process on the
[Top left] molten gob of glass, the modern
equivalent of the old craft of glass-blowing
2. [Top right] Machines making glass stems
3. [Left] Completing the finished article
4. [Right] Automation on the factory
Compare this automated factory
with the preserved 19th centuy glassworks at Trélon.
Now Arques produces 1,000 tonnes of glass a day - 5 million
items. 75% of its output of mass-market glassware is
exported to 155 countries. It is still a family firm - the
current owner, Jean-Jacques Durand is thought to be one of
France's top 10 richest people.
The factory shop sells the whole
product range of glasses, carafes, oven-to-table ware, and
household items for about 20% below normal French shop
prices - with special offers.
© Copyright 1999 Invicta Media. Last updated 20th October
in a review..
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Zone industrielle, R.N.43 avenue du
Général de Gaulle,
Take "Arques" exit from A26 autoroute. Follow signs to:
Guide to opening hours:
0900-1730; CLOSED: Sundays and holidays.
Tel: 00 33 3 21 12 74 74
Fax: 00 33 3 21 12 74 10
If you are interested in
Factory tours of giant modern
glassworks, with factory shop bargains:
History of glass-making and artists working in glass: