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Musée du Compagnonnage
Musée du Compagnonnage
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The Masterly Hand

“Glory be to Work and Scorn upon Idleness – Work and Honour, this is our wealth”. So read the maxim inscribed on Companion House Carpenters’ diplomas in the 19th century. The words still hold true today, for the Companions are well aware that the practice of their trade, knowledge, effort, work, the hand and the tool serve both to create monuments and masterpieces and to build men.

Plaster cast of the hands of Companion Plasterer “du Devoir” Amédée Puisais, known as “La Gaieté de Rochecorbon” (1893-1972)

Plaster cast of the hands
of Companion Plasterer “du Devoir” Amédée Puisais, known as “La Gaieté de Rochecorbon” (1893-1972)

About the tradesmen

About the tradesmen

The Compagnons du Tour de France are first and foremost tradesmen. The trade in question is almost always understood as a “manual activity” related to transforming materials. This therefore excludes such professions as architecture, accounting, selling, engineering and medicine for example. The activity must also entail a complete process of transformation and not simply a specialised segment of an activity. Currently, Guild trades may be divided into the following categories: wood, stone, metallurgy, leather and textiles, foodstuffs.

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Professional improvement

Professional improvement

One of the goals of the guilds has always been to ensure that young workers have access to professional advancement at the end of their apprenticeships. Regular work habits, the acquisition of new techniques and enhanced skills, and the application of basic knowledge to other disciplines are all encouraged. A guild member is always pushed to do better.

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The masterpiece

The masterpiece

To become a Compagnon one has to earn the title along with the recognition of one’s peers. This presupposes demonstrable competence within a particular trade. A candidate must therefore prove himself by creating a “masterpiece”, an example of his best work.

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Stone

Stone

Compagnons stone cutters have maintained a reputation for excellence thanks to their knowledge in draughtsmanship and to their prestigious constructions. Stonemasons joined them with the development of reinforced concrete. To the stone sector, plasterers and roofers can be added because they work with slate, lay roof tiles, etc., even if their activity is sometimes common with the one of carpenters.

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Metal

Metal

Compagnonnages associated with metal include blacksmiths, mechanics, locksmiths, metalworkers, farriers, panel beaters, boilermakers, plumbers and zinc workers. The variety of metals and alloys (iron, steel, copper, brass, lead, zinc, bronze) allow them to make works of many forms.

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Leather and textiles

Leather and textiles

This sector of activity includes different compagnonnages of trades that industry and mechanization have partly dismantled, including those of the ropers, the weavers, the hatters, the dyers, the tailors, the cloth-shearers, the tanners-leather curriers, the blanchers-chamoiseurs (tawers). Today, the shoemakers-bootmakers, the saddlers, the leather craftsmen and the upholsterers are still represented.

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Food

Food

Catering professions are represented since the 19th century with the compagnons bakers (1811). Cooks joined them later (1900), pastry cooks, confectioners and pork butchers. Only works in sugar paste (icing sugar, water, gelatine and lemon juice) or in pasta dough can be kept well and can therefore be displayed.

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Tools of the trades

Tools of the trades

Tools are a part of the compagnon’s environment. The museum associates them to other objects which evoke every society of trades or every theme.

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Toute l'année

Wood

Wood

Compagnons of wood trades include carpenters, joiners, cabinet makers, wheelwrights, cooper-stavers, clog makers, woodturners and basket makers. The variety of wood and its multiple uses  gave rise to very different works: frameworks, doors and windows, furniture, wheels  and carriages, cask wine and large barrels, clogs, shoes and baskets. Their reception masterpieces and great masterpieces are exhibited in the museum of Compagnonnage.

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Flowing staircase
(1825)

Musée du Compagnonnage

8 rue Nationale
37000 Tours
Tel: 02 47 21 62 20

Escalier à dessous coulissant (1825) Map
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