Le Moulin de Moidrey

It was autumn 2009. We had booked a week in the dinkiest of cottages in Normandy. This is the tale of one early morning and a chance discovery which fascinated me.

The plan had been hatched the night before. We would go to Le Mont-Saint-Michel. We had tried to go there two years previously and had got refused entry. A huge civil defence exercise was going on. It meant we parked for free but when we tried to enter the village, a gendarme held up his hand and said, ‘non!’ But we really were quite close and we both decided it would be good to go so off we went, via Avranches and then via a slightly inland route.

We were approaching the fairy tale looking island when we saw a windmill on a hill.


Some of the windmill – the tower, looked typically Gallic. But those sails looked very odd – almost like doors hung on the mill.


The sweeps were clearly angled to be driven by the wind. The long pole out of the back of the mill enables a miller to push the cap round so that the sails face into the wind.

The sails were actually slatted.


A notice explained the mechanism – for those who read French.


Basically Berton’s system allowed the slats to be adjusted according to the force of the wind. And here’s the mechanism.


Former mills dotted the landscape here.


As ever, for me, a mill is a lovely mill.


The mists cleared and we moved on.



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