On 7 October 2008 we passed through Floirac and saw two windmills surrounded by vineyards. Floirac is off the D730 just south of Mortagne-sur-Gironde. This is the region where the Pineau des Charentes wine comes from. We wanted to have a closer look and were not disappointed.
The day before we had been received like princes at Chateau St. Christoly even though we came unannounced and in the middle of the vendange (grape harvest). St. Christoly is in the Medoc region on the other side of the great Gironde river.
Mr Daniel Genêt and his son are also winegrowers. Mr. Genêt sr, who is the current owner and direct descendent of the builder of the mill, also received us very warmly and gave us a guided tour of the mill. He didn't try to hide his enthusiasm either.
And why would he ? His Mill de la Sablière is superb. (Sablière means sandpit or gravelpit.) The mill has so much of its original equipment and is in good working order.
When was it built ? Who knows ? One can still read "1818" inscribed in one of the stones. In one of the logbooks there are orders for 1847.
The mill has three pairs of stones and earned its keep until 1945 when two sails broke in a storm.
The Moulin de la Sablière is equiped with the Berton sail system. This is a French invention, the very last before windmills finally lost out to electric power. Windmills equiped with this system have longitudinal shutters running the length of the sweeps. These shutters can be adjusted from inside the mill while it is running. Yes, that's right: while it is running. The shutters can be opened up to catch more wind. When closed all the shutters are on the sweeps and catch hardly any wind.
Mr Genêt explained all in detail. For instance how they made sure the stones were perfectly flat and how they were dressed. Dress stones ? Yes, now and again the stones must be recut to keep their surface sharp.
We made some pictures and promised to send some of them to the Genêt family.
Here we go one better (we hope you'll agree) and publish those pictures.
And finally,... Monsieur Daniel Genêt who was born on 21 November 1927, passed away on 21 January 2017. In his 90th year. He was so proud of his mill. And rightly so !
Our pictures of the Mill de la Sablière together
About the Mill de la Sablière
Le Moulin de la Sablière (en français)
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On the subject of windmills
All about our Meetjesland
More from abroad:
Bagnols-sur-Cèze, Gard, France
Elazig in Turkey
MijnPlatteLand Welcome page
Most recent update: 21 April 2021