ARCHES®, Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant
ARCHES® has recently been granted “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” (Living Heritage Company) status, in recognition of its ancestral know-how in the field of high quality paper making. It therefore joins a prestigious club whose member include famous French names such as Hermès, Cristalleries Saint-Louis, Baccarat, Chanel, De Buyer, Garnier Thiébaut, Imagerie d’Epinal, all proud holders of the mark.
What is the “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” (EPV) label?
The label is an official French mark of recognition introduced in May 2006 and awarded by the Ministry for the Economy and Finances. It is only granted to a few elite French companies. It is valid for a period of five years, andencompasses manufacturers who strive to uphold the excellence of their industrial or artisan know-how and the high quality of their products.
Companies with EPV status keep their production activities in France and operate in high value-added sectors. Most of them are present on international markets, and they export along with their goods the image of the excellence and know-how for which France is renowned. They act as ambassadors for “Made in France” quality and on a daily basis they contribute to France’s economic and cultural identity. They are firms thatexpertly combine tradition with innovation, know-how with creativity, hard work with passion and ensure the sustainability of our heritage.
ARCHES®, an exceptional heritage
When Christopher Columbus set out for America in 1492, master papermakers were already hand making paper in the Arches paper mill located in the Vosges region of France. Drawing on age-old know-how, the master papermakers have remained faithful to the original spirit of the paper mill, even as the production processes have gradually become industrialised.
The Arches mill is still making paper today, the last mill in France to manufacture all its fine art and printing papers using a cylinder mould.
This traditional method, in use at ARCHES® since 1895, and the use of a natural raw material, cotton, make it possible to produce very high quality papers that have nothing to envy the finest handmade papers.
The cylinder mould process is the best way of producing paper that is stable (deforming little when wet), watermarked, with a natural grain and deckle edges.
ARCHES® is also very well-known for its watercolour paper gelatin-sized “to the core”.
This manufacturing process – unique in the world – gives the paper inimitable qualities. The details of the process are a closely guarded secret, passed on verbally within the company.
ARCHES®, excellence in paper
For over five centuries, famous artists and men of letters have overwhelmingly chosen ARCHES® papers to produce their works on the most sublime of media – and one that guarantees their longevity. The brand enjoys an international reputation.
Numerous quality controls carried out throughout the manufacturing process guarantee the undisputed quality of the papers that have made the ARCHES® name. The watermark is the paper’s seal of quality, guaranteeing that it is genuine ARCHES® paper. It is the sign of an expert’s skill, requiring precision, attention to detail and finesse.
At the end of the manufacturing cycle, tearing off and the tactile and visual inspection of each sheet is entrusted to a team of highly skilled men and women. Their know-how is perfected only after years of in-house training and experience.
ARCHES®, an innovative company always attentive to customers’ needs
The papermakers at ARCHES® are able to adapt to all kinds of very specific requirements to create tailored papers (composition, size, grammage, special colours, etc.) with customised watermarks.
In the 1950s, they were the first to manufacture ARCHES® Watercolour blocks at the company’s paper mill in the Vosges. And today they continue to perpetuate the innovative spirit that is intrinsic to the brand, developing new “Made in France” products to continually extend the range.
In the year of its 525th anniversary, the ARCHES® name still stands for excellence and the happy combination of tradition with modernity.
Which companies can be awarded EPV status?
To be recognised as a French Living Heritage Company, firms must meet a number of conditions:
- be registered with Trades Register or the Trade and Companies Register
- carry on a production, processing, repair or restoration activity
- fulfil at least one of the criteria in each of the three following categories:
- Possess a special business heritage, which may consist of rare machinery or technical documentation. It may also include the company’s intellectual property or take the form of a specific customer network or remarkable markets.
- Possess rare, well-known and undisputed know-how, which is exclusive or shared only with a very limited number of companies. This know-how may be inaccessible through ordinary methods of training and provided by the company itself or by employees in the company who possess skills that require very long periods of training, employees who are difficult to recruit and train.
- Be renowned for the cultural dimension of its services or their geographical location. It may also owe its reputation to its contribution to technological progress in its field and the maintenance of the particular skills in France.
The selection process is extremely thorough and intended to guarantee excellence: applications are considered by the Institut Supérieur des Métiers (ISM, Higher Institute for Trades), which consults regional governmental agencies and the relevant consular bodies (Chamber of Trades, etc.), organises visits to the applicant company by experts in the field and prepares a report. A National Commission then examines the application and the final decision is taken at ministerial level.