The Museums

Two museums to discover within the same building.

The town of Charlieu enjoys a rich and diverse architectural and cultural heritage that illustrates the exciting history of the place and its inhabitants. It is therefore only natural that a museum has been established for over thirty years in this beautiful historical setting. The Charlieu Museum consists of two entities and helps to link fundamental elements of the local heritage: the Silk Museum and the Hospital Museum. Since its inception, it has been housed in one of the most remarkable buildings in the city: the former Hôtel-Dieu of Charlieu..

Between weaving and the Hôtel-Dieu, Charlieu's history unfolds.

Hospital Museum

History of the museum

The Hôtel-Dieu of Charlieu was originally located within the precincts of the city's Benedictine abbey, where it welcomed the poor and pilgrims during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, it was situated on the "Grand Rue" of Charlieu. From then on, it was the Sisters of the Order of Saint Martha who provided care to the sick.

The Hôtel-Dieu closed its doors in 1981. It is within its walls, a magnificent 18th-century building, that the Hospital Museum was created.

The visit

The visit allows you to discover reconstructions of rooms dating from the late 19th to the 1950s: the large sickroom with its rows of beds, but also the treatment rooms, the operating theater, and the laundry room.

The pharmacy, classified as a Historical Monument, preserves its beautiful 18th-century woodwork, its drawers of plants, and a very fine collection of 18th-century faience pots.

A medicinal plant garden has recently been created where you can find the plants that were used in the pharmacy.

The religious dimension of hospitals in the past is evoked, notably by the presence of the chapel, whose magnificent gilded wooden altarpiece (classified as a Historical Monument) is visible from the museum.

"It smells like a hospital..."

Indeed, in the museum, "it smells like a hospital," and it's not an illusion! The scents of the different rooms have been recreated by a specialized laboratory: plants in the pharmacy, lavender in the laundry room... This original olfactory evocation is a unique way to feel like you've returned to the time of the nuns!

Silk Museum

History of the museum

For a century and a half, the town of Charlieu has been renowned for its exceptional silk fabrics destined for high fashion and upscale furnishing.

In 1992, a Silk Museum was established in the former Hôtel-Dieu of Charlieu, a beautiful 18th-century building.

The visit

The tour begins with a collection of functioning textile machines, most of which date back to the 19th century. Luxurious antique silk dresses as well as samples of creations designed for haute couture are also on display.

A section of the museum is dedicated to the last active Weavers' Guild in France: that of Charlieu, which organizes a unique and spectacular annual festival with auctions of royal charges! To complete the tour, an audiovisual presentation testifies to the still very much alive textile memory today.

Tableau d'Armand Charnay
Tableau d'Armand Charnay

Fine arts

The Charlieu Museums possess an exceptional Fine Arts collection built around three local master painters: Blanche Roullier, Christian-Henri Roullier, and Armand Charnay. Their works are regularly showcased to the public and honored through exhibitions and workshops.