Sunday, November 5, 2017

Detour to the Tourtrès windmill

The mill in Tourtrès originally was built in 1620.

Our relaxed lives here in south west France mean we are rarely in a hurry. Out on a drive one pretty day on our way to do some research for another Lot of Livin’ blog post, our GPS, which sometimes gives us questionable directions, takes us by the village of Tourtrès. I’ve noticed this windmill high on a hill many times, but finding ourselves in its shadow seems too good to pass up. Certainly, our original errands can wait.

Tourtrès is located in the Lot-et-Garonne about 2 km from Tombebœuf, 50 km north of Agen and 33 km north of Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

Our car’s GPS unexpectedly (and fortunately) directs us to the
tiny village of Tourtrès.

We park in a lot and take a short walk up a paved path. The village of Tourtrès (pop. 136 in 2009) has only a few houses and no business that I can see. What it does contain is Église Saint-Pierre with a four-arcade Gothic bell tower, centuries-old cypress trees, and the aforementioned mill. The crystal-clear day also provides beautiful views across the surrounding countryside.

In addition to a windmill, Tourtrès contains an ancient church.

Église Saint-Pierre in Tourtrès has a striking four-arched Gothic bell tower.

It is not until a few months later as I am preparing to write this post that I discover the mill’s rich history. Originally the village contained three mills; the one that still stands was built in 1620. In 1892 the mill was demolished, only to be rebuilt three years later. The mill worked until it was abandoned in 1925.

Centuries ago, three mills in Tourtrès provided a
livelihood to villagers.

In 1950, a Swiss poet named Armel Guerne bought the mill, which, by that time, had a collapsed roof and failing walls. Guerne restored the structure so he could live in it. During the restoration, epigraphs from 1801 were discovered. After Guerne died in 1980, the mill was purchased by one of his relatives and was again restored in 1997. Although the mill doesn’t actually work, it is lovely to look at.

A stop in the village of Tourtrès provides pretty views across
the countryside.

Tourtrès most famous resident was artist Eliane Thiollier (born in 1926 in Saint-German en Laye) who was known for her paintings and lithographs. She died in an automobile accident in the Lot-et-Garonne in 1989.

I am grateful for the Region Aquitaine website that provided me with the mill’s history. And I am also grateful for the reminder to never pass up an interesting detour — there’s always time to be a little late.

This wayfarer’s cross stands in Tourtrès.

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