Patrimoine vivant de la France


Text by Caterina Sbrana.

In our virtual tour across the intangible cultural heritage, after the story of the experience of  South China Research Center of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, we get to discover  the Patrimoine Culturel Immatériel of France promoted by a number of partners such as the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the French, Belgian and German-speaking Commissions for UNESCO, the France Télévisions and various local partners.

The project collected 114 films and more than 300 testimonials.

The web platform is very simple. On the right we find a list of contents related to the intangible heritage of French culture: horse riding, gastronomy, hunting, masters perfume-makers etc..
It is enough to click on the title to find a series of information such as texts, videos, photographs, paintings, maps and many interviews.
To better understand the importance of this digital archive we consult some topics of interest.foto1

The perfumeurs of Grasse, for example, tell the importance of tradition through a short interview in which they testify how the tradition passes from one generation to the other and also in the school of perfumery the students are taught the techniques handed down from hundreds of years.

From the middle of the sixteenth century, the manufacture of alcoholic perfumes became important and the increasing use of perfume led to a great demand for aromatic materials. Montpellier and Grasse were the two major centres of perfumery. Montpellier, famous for its medical school and pharmaceutical school, cannot produce the plant substances needed for perfumery, given its harsh climate. Grasse, capital of eastern Provence, benefits from an exceptional microclimate and a considerable livestock, very useful to the tannery, activity in which the city specializes since the fourteenth century.

The originsfoto2 of the development of perfumery can be traced back to the fashion of perfumed leathers: in the middle of the 17th century.We discover that the technique of the enfleurage is  the oldest and most expensive extraction process of flowers and that today it has been almost completely abandoned due to the high cost while the distillation is the extraction process that involves heating a mixture of water and aromatic plants in a still. The water vapour is then cooled and collected at the outlet of the apparatus in a container where, by decantation, the water separates from the odorous elements that it had generated and which are called gasoline.

Let me see the section “ Les maîtres tapissiers d’Aubusson”, the upholsterers of Aubusson. foto3In this small city in the Department of Creuse the craftsmanship of tapestry is a centuries-old tradition.  The tapestry of Aubusson is based on an image of any artistic style, prepared on cardboard by a paperboard painter from the model provided by a designer.Weaving is carried out manually by a smoother on a loom placed horizontally, on the back of the tapestry, from hand-dyed wools on site. This demanding process involves considerable time and cost.


I also found very interesting The culture of the  lavender in Baronnies, finding that between the 1920s and 1930s, lavender cultivation reached its peak. Traditional over-exploited and unproductive bayonets are gradually being abandoned while the plantations are multiplying. Limited to bad land, they are associated with food crops, dishes such Soupe de fraise à la lavande and livestock. Thus Lavender takes its place in the family economy.


It is interesting to deepen the subject of distillation, which is millenary, as well as to follow the evolution from the point of view of technology as well as the history of the Baronnies.


Leave a Reply

Related Articles

The Siberian Expedition during First World War
Text by Caterina Sbrana. I propose a very interesting history page that you can explore through the vision of 2,200 images available online in the Siberian Expedition Digital Archive. Created by Canadian historian Benjamin Isitt and the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre, the website about the Canada’s Siberian Expedition is based on a participatory approach, integrating learning resources, an online journal and Digital Archive. As explained in the web-pages of the Ar...
Tibetan Opera, the most popular traditional opera of minority ethnic groups in China
Text by Caterina Sbrana. Let's continue our research on intangible cultural heritage to learn about the most popular traditional opera of minority ethnic groups in China, the Tibetan Opera, nowdays accessible online at, or at The contribution of digital technology to the discovery and research on intangible heritage is becoming increasingly i...
Italy fights the battle against illiteracy, 1950.
text by Caterina Sbrana. "General View of Rogiano Gravina. Rogiano Gravina is located around forty kilometers north of Cosenza, in the center of a very poor agricultural district. It counts close to 6,000 in habitants, and it is the most active community in Calabria in the fight against illitteracy. One thousand children in school age are attending  school, reaching almost one hundren per cent of attendance, and 700 adults are coming every night to a school established by the Unione Per La...
Call for Papers open for DIPP2016
Authors are invited to submit original, unpublished research and project papers to the Sixth International Conference on Digital Presentation and Preservation of Cultural and Scientific Heritage. The Conference is organised under the UNESCO patronage and aims at presenting innovative results, research projects and applications in the field of digitisation, documentation, archiving, representation and preservation of global and national tangible and intangible cultural and scientific heritage.