The paper beloved of Dalí and Picasso

TEXT: JAMES RAMPTON | PHOTOS © RICHARD DE BAS

Richard de Bas can lay claim to being one of the most prestigious paper mills in the world. Centuries of history are embedded in the paper, which is lovingly handmade at the historic mill near Ambert in a remote valley in the Auvergne, France.

The exquisite paper, which is produced in a mill dating back to the 16th century, has been used by world-class artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. In addition, the sole copy of the Constitution of the 5th French Republic of 1958, The Encyclopaedia of Diderot and D’Alembert and Nobel Prize diplomas have all been written on Richard de Bas paper.

As well as the high-end white paper, which is still in huge demand from editors, artists and engravers, Richard de Bas also manufactures paper for more general use. This paper can be used for wedding invitations, greetings cards and menus. During the summer months, the mill uses the flowers from its splendid gardens to produce a specially scented paper.

Despite making only 200 sheets of paper a day, Richard de Bas has some 30,000 visitors a year, drawn by the mill’s fascinating guided tours. During the school holidays, there are also papermaking workshops for children.

Sylvain Péraudeau, whose family has owned this last surviving mill in the Auvergne for 80 years, explains what makes Richard de Bas so special: “The world moves so fast these days. Our mill is unique. It’s very rare in this day and age to find something that requires such care. That has real value, and we need to preserve it.”

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