About Le Moulin de Pezenas
Origins and architecture
In a hamlet set in the South of France, between Montpellier and Béziers, under the shade of 100 year old plane trees, sits Le Moulin de Pézenas. It is one of the last historical mills of the Hérault. It originates from the 12th century and it remained in use as late as 1918. It was completely renovated between 2014 and 2016, becoming a haven in the midst of an exceptionally well preserved countryside.
When Pierres d’Histoire became the owner of the property, the mill had been severely damaged and had suffered some rather clumsy transformation work, most probably during the 20th century. Although not lived in for nearly 100 years, it had been kept dry fortunately, enabling the main structure to be saved.
“The structure is composed of two massive flour mill towers, of an oblong shape, and with a downstream overhang, built in hardshell limestone. The construction covers several periods.
The foundations are medieval (XIVth or XVth century). The west entrance is protected by offset by four machicolation corbel arches.
Resumptions of work and modification very likely took place over the periods of the XVIth and XVIIth century. The date 1728 seen above the watering hole, could correspond to works of rehabilitation.
At the start of the XIXth century, the mill is used for irrigation, with turbines and pumps. The southside has been partly added and lifted.” Mérimée Base
After much historical research, a decision was taken to inscribe the mill on the list of Monuments Historiques. This was easy, given the quality of the building – and thus guaranteed its permanence.
The only modification that was allowed in the construction permit, was the opening of three French windows unto the terrace. These were done in the same stonework as the original mullion windows.
Masons, carpenters, roofers, etc., between 5 to 10 people relayed for over a year and a half over this site, enabling this superb building to literally resurrect.
The works commenced with the restoration of the roof; the main elements of the structure were kept and only slightly modified. Traces of corbel offsets on the walls were noted, enabling the restitution of the overhang of the magnificent “à l’italienne” roof. The terrace over the river was reconstructed by leaning it against the original foundations of the Moulin. As for the river bank, they were consolidated and the water circuit around the Moulin re-established.
On a side note, workers found under the silt an 80 meter long quay made of black basalt stone. During the rise in the water level, access to the mill became particularly difficult and the installation of electricity constituted one of the major difficulties of the restoration.
Under the imposing framework, dating back to the end of the 19th century, the interior of the 250 sq. meter mill has been converted into a big family home with the possibility of each floor being independent from each other.
In the past, only the first floor was lived in, therefore the ground floor had to be changed in such a way as to remain coherent with the industrial past of this superb edifice. Very quickly, the decision was made to build “grand jour” windows painted in black so that it would not be “noticeable” from the façade side. Terra cotta tiles found under the roof were recovered from their original usage and placed on the floor.
The first floor was easily converted, no façade change was necessary. The main difficulty was in the floor planning, as a lot of space was lost due to the triangular shape of the overhangs. In fact, in this fortified building, the towers have an upstream spur form so as to break the current. This style of medieval military architecture protected the installations against the strong currents of the river.
Traditional materials were chosen in coherence with the history of the Moulin; the artisans used essentially whitewash and stone shell rock from the Gard, a sedimentary rock with visible shell fossils.
As for the decoration, light and bright tones has been chosen. Linen and cotton materials for the linens evoke a tranquility and lightness of “vacation in the South”.
As in every Pierres d’Histoire house, contemporary objects mingle with beautiful patina furniture. In honor of its viticultural past, the doors are the old doors of the wine cellars.