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San Miguel is a town of artists; you'll find art for sale not only in galleries, but also in restaurants, offices, and just about anywhere there's space in a public area. San Miguel is also a town of artisans working mainly with clay, iron, brass, tin, blown glass, and papier-mâché. And San Miguel is a town of shopkeepers who sell locally produced items as well as folk art and decorative objects from across Mexico. There are so many stores, and they are so different from each other, that a list would not be helpful. The best advice I can give is to explore the streets around the main square. If you're looking for something in particular, ask around. One place that's easily walkable but a bit outside the downtown area is Fábrica La Aurora, an old textile mill that's been converted into galleries and shops selling art, furnishings, and antiques. The old factory is an attractive space, with lots of open areas, and includes a restaurant and a cafe. It's a bit north of downtown on Calzada de La Aurora, just past the bridge.

Stores are usually open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 2pm and 4 to 7 or 8pm. Most stores close on Sunday. If you're interested in Talavera pottery, consider going to nearby Dolores Hidalgo. Also, you can find some handicrafts and fun knickknacks at the Mercado de Artesanías (handicrafts market), but it will require hunting through lots of goods that are either too tacky or not tacky enough. The mercado occupies a walkway 3 blocks long that descends from the municipal market past the Hotel Quinta Loreto.

Shopping For Talavera

The Talavera pottery produced in Dolores is handsome and colorful, if less traditional than Talavera pottery produced in Puebla. It's also inexpensive and plentiful. You can find all kinds of objects, from sink basins to napkin rings, to hand-painted tiles. The pieces are formed with molds and then painted freehand. Prices here are considerably lower than those in San Miguel. Workshops are usually open from 10am to 6pm but may or may not close for the afternoon meal. Almost all are closed on Sunday.

The first couple of Talavera workshops you'll encounter aren't even in town, but are on the highway just before you get there. Talavera San Gabriel (tel. 418/185-5037) has a warehouse full of large and small decorative objects, including picture frames, candlesticks, and ginger jars. And Talavera Amora (tel. 418/185-9002) has more dinnerware, including the popular blue-and-yellow fish pattern.

Once you get into town, you're best off just asking directions for different stores and factories. There are a lot of shops, and each seems to have a different specialty. At the entrance to the town, on the left side of the first roundabout, is Hacienda Style (tel. 418/182-2064, or 602/288-9122 in the U.S.). It produces tiles and sink basins and other objects in traditional and contemporary patterns. The factory has a store in San Miguel at Zacateros 83-A (tel. 415/154-7962). Another that specializes in decorative objects and tiles is Talavera Cortés (tel. 418/182-0900), at the corner of Distrito Federal and Tabasco streets. Azulejos Talavera Vázquez (tel. 418/182-0630) has a large store at the corner of Puebla and Tamaulipas streets. It has a bit of everything, and at that same intersection are a couple of other stores with lots of dinnerware.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.