La Grande Place – The Saint-Louis Museum of Crystal

The first written record of the Münzthal glassworks was in 1586. There was enough sand, wood and bracken in the region to make glass. As early as 1781 the glassmakers of Saint-Louis were specialising in lead crystal, the production of which survived both the French and the Industrial Revolution. Luxury goods are simply timeless.

Handmade glassmaking has flourished in the Vosges region since the 14th century. This can be put down to the extraordinary promotion ploys used by the counts of Lorraine. Like the aristocracy, all glassmakers who set up their workshops here enjoyed the right of being able to settle and trade where they want to, as well as benefiting from freedom from taxation. When this led to conflicts some glassmakers left the area; others moved far away from the counts to settle in the Bitche region in the heart of the northern Vosges. In 1767 a glass workshop was set up in Saint-Louis. The workers here were fully aware of how to exploit their competitive advantages in producing lead crystal. They developed new techniques like acid engraving and gold decor. In 1845 they produced the first ever glass paperweight and even earlier in 1834, a glass table service. Modern designs dominate today´s products in Saint-Louis: articles like the contemporary Bubbles decanter designed by Teleri Ann Jones or the neo-baroque Flamboyance chandelier designed by Hilton McConnico.

The works and workers’ housing estate fill the narrow wooded valley in Saint-Louis. The site follows the topography: the owner´s mansion, the church with its conical tower and glass chandeliers, and the old school occupy the side of the hills, whereas the factory buildings and rows of workers houses on either side of them stretch all along the valley. "La Grande Place" glass museum, completed in summer 2007, stands in the middle of the village. The "large hall" is like a huge storage rack made of pinewood and glass. 20 stopping points laid out on a gently rising incline and accompanied by 20 videos with German and English subtitles, lead visitors past 1500 glass exhibits, each of them a witness to local achievements. And when their gaze runs from the splendid glass chandelier down to the remains of a brick glass kiln, finished products become inextricably entangled with origins. Glass buildings are inevitably a recognition of openness, and this is expressed in the glimpses through the glass shelves to the adjacent glass workshop with its demonstrations of glass blowing and polishing.

La Grande Place – The Saint-Louis Museum of Crystal
Rue Coetlosquet
57620 Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche
+33 (0) 8706 - 4004