Moulins du Verger and Bordeaux - Nov 2018

Dear friends and family,

Don has been wanting to visit Moulins du Verger for quite a while. Jacques Brejoux built a medieval-style stamper mill at great effort and cost, and it is housed in this amazing old paper mill, where he lives and works with Nadine Dumain.

The old mill is in the French countryside and difficult to reach from Spain, and probably from many places. We ended up flying into Bordeaux, the closest connection for flights from Madrid.

The restaurant our little hotel recommended was closed so we went next door to a typical French brasserie: steak, duck breast, a huge bowl of frites and a butter lettuce salad accompanied by a delicious Bordeaux wine. Simple, satisfying and very French. We're in the French provinces (I guess; is Bordeaux considered the provinces?), so the quality is better than a typical brasserie in Paris.

The next day we walked to the train station to pick up our rental car. From what we heard and later observed, one should avoid driving within Bordeaux if at all possible - many one-way streets, among other things. The train station is close to the city limits.

So as I was saying about the difficulty of reaching the mill from Spain, we had to fly from Madrid to Bordeaux, a city with probably the worst traffic we have ever encountered. Then it is more than an hour and a half drive from Bordeaux to Puymoyen, a little village near Angouleme. It took us longer as we went to the wrong Moulins du Verger. There are two of them (which Jacques himself didn’t know), about half an hour’s drive from each other. When we realized our error, we were out in the middle of the French countryside with no reception, so we drove slowly around the French countryside until we picked up a signal, and finally arrived.

Roads we drove outside Bordeaux were mostly empty; the countryside spotless.

And awaiting us, ooh-la-la.

Pork slowly stewed in red wine and peaches over rice. Jacques started it very early this morning. 

Nadine Dumain, bookbinder

A panorama which turned out a bit weird as people were moving: Don, Didier, Nadine and Jacques.

Nadine made this delicious ice cream with peaches grown on their property. The color is natural. Nadine said red peaches.

The family dog, Charbon, with her favorite toy, a deflated and ripped rubber ball.

The stamper mill, three of the six drop-hammers.

A popular video (judging from the number of shares on fb) of the triphammer stamper mill in action, please see Don’s facebook page and posting at: November 9
The video on fb may be more detailed. I think one reason for the video's popularity is that this triphammer stamper mill is actually working. As far as we know, it is the only one in use and making paper pulp. We have come across other such mills in museums, but they are never actually being used for hand papermaking, or for anything.

The drying loft.

The worn stone stairs of this 16th century building, leading into and out of the stamper room. (I believe that is the age Nadine told me).

Nadine and Era in Nadine’s book binding studio.

The overhanging rock cliff right outside Moulin du Verger and the row of feathery trees which seem ubiquitous in France.

We drove the little country roads to the freeway, and all was well until we neared Bordeaux. We had to return our rental car and get to the restaurant by 6:30. As we got closer to Bordeaux everything ground to a halt; we traveled 9 miles in 1 hour! It was a miracle that we found our way back to the car rental at the train station as one wrong turn and it would have cost us another half hour.

There were no taxis, but a queue waiting for one, so we started walking or trotting in the direction of the restaurant, Nofa. We managed to grab a passing taxi and made our reservation almost in time. It turned out to be a particularly bad day for traffic and most of the patrons were late for their dinners.

A seafood soufflé starter.

Don’s (still frazzled) mostly vegetable in cilantro gelatin appetizer; hard to describe.
At the rear of the photo, something you would not see in the US, the three teenagers out for a night on the town, dining at a gourmet restaurant on their own.

Era, looking very pleased, already savoring her dinner. 

Yummy squid pasta. The dark brown and white striped base is a strip of lasagna-type pasta with a definite squid flavor to it. The dark seaweed-appearing garnish is made from squid ink. Delicious dish.
All with wonderful Bordeaux wine. Tiramisu for dessert.

Love from France (a quick drop-in)
Era and Don