About Le Hameau de Courances
Focus on the mill
Although the outbuildings of Château de Courances were, until World War II, the cradle of a dynamic economic activity between the Château and the village, it is important to remember that this activity was unfortunately interrupted for nearly half a century.
Indeed, following the exile to Switzerland of the owners of the time, the estate was totally abandoned between 1830 and 1872. This led to disastrous consequences to the buildings which were greatly damaged. It necessitated an important campaign of refurbishing, planning and new constructions that was led by the Baron Samuel de Haber. He was later able create again an economic activity around his castle.
La Pompe (the pump), le Moulin (the mill) and the Atelier (the workshop) date from the end of 19th century.
A Mill is mentioned in the Park of Courances as early as 1638 and its presence is confirmed on two plans, one dating from the end of the 19th century and the second in 1812.
It cannot be confirmed from when the present wheel of the Moulin dates from when it was first mentioned in 1638, however it can be confirmed that its position has always been the same. In fact, the road that leads to the Moulin has gone under the name of Rue du Moulin (Mill Street) for several centuries.
Contrary to many of the mills of the region, this one is not placed directly on the Ecole river. The wheel is positioned in this spot because a water source supplies it directly.
It is not known precisely for what it was used before the 19th century (wheat, hemp or wood mill?).
The plans dating from 18th and the start of 19th century confirm the presence of buildings adjacent to the wheel of the mill. However, comparing them to today’s plans, the buildings are no longer exactly in the same spot. It can be supposed that after the abandonment during the period of 1830 and 1872, the buildings that existed fell into ruins and were unusable. In its big project of restoration, Baron Samuel de Haber built or had rebuilt practically the totality of the commons.
From the end of 19th century to the Second World War, the wheel of the waterfall activated the wheels of the Moulin. The remains of these gearwheels can be seen in the basement of the house; the wheels of the mill allowed the water to go to La Pompe (the pump), the Pompe then redirected the water to the water tower of the vegetable garden (still there). Thus the water saved in the water tower supplied all the needs of the estate and the castle. The hydraulic mill activated also the mechanism of the sawmill which was located in the current Atelier.
After the war, because of the evolution of the society and the agricultural revolution, the activity of the Courances Estate stopped completely, the Moulin became a place of storage before it was taken over by Pierres d’Histoire in 2013. Thanks to the joint work between Pierres d’Histoire and the owners family – through Patrick Deedes, the administrator of Le Chateau de Courances.
The park as well as the outer walls of Chateau de Courances are inscribed as Monuments Historiques. Although the rest of the buildings of the domain are not listed per say, they are pretty much subject to the rules governing the Monuments Historiques in case of any works. When renovating the Hameau, the architect of the Batiments de France required, quite rightly, that the buildings keep the rural aspect of their original functions.
The restoration took eighteen months and needed about ten people. Manolo, the Courances gardener was hired to help. He knew everything there was to know about Courances and becomes little by little the site manager coordinating the different artisans: a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter who executed the door and window frames, the shutters and the staircases. A few masons and four other people who usually worked for the upkeep the Park of Courances were also hired.
Because of the proximity of the buildings to the water, the biggest difficulty of the work site was to clean up the foundations; without knocking down anything it had to be repaired from underneath so as to reinforce and protect it from the waters. This structural work implied moving … the Pump. It can be imagined how difficult it was to move such an imposing system. As for the very bad state of the paved court it was best to completely redo it. It was set in the traditional way, that is to say, on a bed of sand slightly treated with lime.
Following damages during World War II, some sections had been repaired in the seventies and eighties with concrete. When talks of restoration took place, there was very little if any, of the original elements that could have been used. However, it was obvious that high quality materials had to be used. This is why the walls were worked with whitewash and the floors covered with old terra cotta tiles. Insulation was done with hemp, a vegetable fiber known for its transpirant qualities. The regional park of Gatinais, in which sits the château de Couranes, has put in place a procedure for the availability of local hemp and encourages the use of this wonderful material that not only is very efficient but also perfumes pleasantly the walls.
Decorated both soberly and elegantly, each of the three houses have a particular charm and atmosphere. A place for the family or a group of friends, for relaxing, breathing, simply taking a pause.
The peacefulness of the Hameau de Courances comes very much because of the pretty paved courtyard. But also because of the grandiose beauty of a small hidden, private garden : THE Japanese garden, known to be one of the most beautiful of Europe.
Do you want to stay there ?
Le Moulin du Hameau de Courances
For 3 people
From 200 € per night
L'Atelier du Hameau de Courances
For 4 people
From 268 € per night
La Pompe du Hameau de Courances
For 2 people
From 165 € per night