St Pierreville is a small town between the mountains of the Ardéche and the Rhone Valley. Ardelaine is a co-operative established late in the twentieth century when it was realised that sheep farmers in the Ardéche were throwing away their wool because it could not be sold on national markets. The co-operative combines heritage elements with a commercial business. A shearing programme is organised for some 250 farmers within a 50-km. radius of St Pierreville, who guarantee that no chemicals are applied to the fleeces of their flocks. The co-operative then purchases the wool on a Fair Trade basis – it bought 55 tonnes in 2012 – and processes it in a restored water-powered mill. Wool, yarn and fabrics are used to produce a range of goods for sale, either in a shop on the site or online, including clothing, knitwear, upholstery and bedding.
The water-powered mill was built in 1850 by Pierre Puaux on a site where there had been mills since the fifteenth century. It closed in the late 1950s but since it revival carding, spinning and weaving machinery dating from the nineteenth century has been used to demonstrate the history of the woollen industry and the quality of French engineering. An annual Fête de la Laine is held in St Pierreville in August.