Sailing again

If you have visited Saint-Chinian, you’ll probably know that there is a windmill standing on the hill above the village.  It was reconstructed as a fully functional windmill from a ruin a good many years ago.  During the summer months, volunteers from the association Richesses du St Chinianais used to offer guided visits and would make the windmill turn if there was enough wind.

Unfortunately, at some point the rot set in – in the main beam which held the sails and acted as the drive shaft.  One day, a couple of years ago, the beam just snapped off, and the four sails dropped to the ground.  It was a sad day for the village, but at least nobody was hurt.

The sails were put into storage, whilst experts looked at ways of repairing the windmill.  In the end, it was decided to re-make the sails and the external part of the drive shaft with steel rather than wood.  To my mind it’s been a surprisingly successful repair – you can’t really tell the difference even from just a few meters away.

With the sails replaced, the windmill was opened to visitors again last summer, and the volunteers from Les Richesses gave guided tours once more!  The day I visited, I arrived early enough to watch the sails being unfurled.  I shot a video, which gives you an idea of the tranquility of the spot, and what is required to get this windmill operational!

There was no wind on the day I visited, so unfortunately the sails would not turn.  But don’t be disappointed!  I did write about the windmill back in June 2013,  and I included videos of the windmill turning in that post – you can read the post here.

On your next visit to Saint-Chinian, don’t forget to have a look at the windmill – it’s worth the drive or walk for the views alone!!

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4 thoughts on “Sailing again

  1. Good for them in making the repair!
    There are a number of restored windmills in the area, but not many are operational; they’re mostly for show.
    I remember going to a windmill in the Netherlands–the sails rotated around the windmill to better catch the wind (i.e., they not only went around like a pinwheel but shifted around the windmill itself). I about got clobbered on my way out the door.

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    • That windmill in the Netherlands sounds amazing!! Not enough wind here to make our mill turn – one of the historians told me he thought that it was never a windmill, but powered by donkeys or horses… It is built right next door to a lime kiln, so the theory was that it never milled grain either. All very complicated… 🙂

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  2. I have visited St Chinian, many years ago, but I didn’t notice the windmill, so thank you for drawing my attention to it! I love it when examples of patrimoine like that are restored and it looks beautiful now. We have a number of windmills in the area, being hilly and windy, some of which are well restored, although others have usually lost their sails.

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    • You might have visited Saint-Chinian before the windmill was restored. Although, unless you specifically look in that direction, or drive into the village past it, you could easily miss the windmill!! 🙂

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