Windmills have been an integral part of the landscape of the Vendée since the 14th century, there are no less than 207 listed
though many of these are now only ruins and only a few are in their
original working condition. There are others that have been converted
into dwellings and there are even a couple that can be rented as holiday
homes. The earliest dates from the 14th century, there are others from
the 16th and 17th century but by far the majority date from the 18th and
19th centuries. All but two are of the (traditional) "tower mill"
design which was the more tradition style where a conical tower has a
rotating head which is moved to turn the sails into the wind by the use
of a long tail pole (Guivre) that stretches down to the ground.
During the Wars of the Vendée windmills were used to relay the position of the Republican troops by changing the angle the sails,
1. In an X position "all was quiet"
2. Anti-clockwise dog position, "danger over"
3. Clockwise dog position, "danger troop arriving"
4. In a + shape as in the photo opposite, "gathering Troops.
By these means the Vendéen army gained a real time advantage. It is
thought that the semaphore telegraph was based on this simple but clever
Below are listed a few of the more interesting windmills that can be seen
Moulin des Gourmands St
Reverend. Not far from St.Gilles-Croix-de-Vie this windmill is open for
guided tours and for the purchase of produce including bread from their
Moulin de Raire
The only windmill in France that has never been out of action since it
was built in 1560. Come visit this unique windmill and see the art of
Moulin des Alouettes
At Les Herbiers in the North Vendée the last working windmill in the
area, out of the seven original mills and is open to the public.
Petit Moulin de Chateauneuf. This 300 year old windmill has been in the same family for its entire life and still to this dayproduces flour.
Moulin Pacouinay, This little windmill near Oulmes is open to the Public. It has a small museum.
Moulin de Bots Pias. Longville-sur-Mer. Privately owned.
Jardin du Vent.
In the heart of the old village stands an old windmill with strange
sails and below in the garden are all manner of things connected to
Moulin de Bel Air. La Rabataliére, standing on top of the hill close to the Sanctuary de Notre Dame de Salette.
The mill was built in 1700, but was destroyed in the Vendeé Wars,
rebuilt in 1800 only to be abandoned in 1943, originally canvas sails
powered the mill, later modernised with slatted, Berton sails.
Restoration has taken some time and can again be seen in action. open
Journée des Moulins in june, and on the Journées du Patrimoine in September.
Moulin de la Vergne.
In the village of Daunière, Lucs-sur-Boulogne, the mill of La
Vergne deserves special visit. This water mill, bought in ruins in 1979
by Yvonne Mace and her husband, now deceased, has returned thanks to the
stubbornness of the owners and some local artisans, a real gem stone
nestled in the foliage and flowers.
The mechanism of the mill entirely renovated by Frederick Magaud, the
blacksmith, and Remi Pilard, the carpenter who also serves as a miller
can grind a flour of high quality that Ms. Mace is delighted to offer
Windmills to rent as Holiday Homes.
St Cyr des Gats
This windmill which was built in 1885 has been beautifully renovated to
a high standard and now offers a romantic holiday location for two.