The Miller


Some passions cannot be repressed.

This is the case for the passion one can feel towards mills; at least for the lovers of this type of heritage who are gathered among the numerous Regional Associations of Mills Friends (A.R.A.M.).

Since the Middle Ages, mills have been symbols of mastered energy, of water made to serve Man's needs, and have always aroused both awe - as a miller is known to be something of a magician and a thief ! - and curiosity as so many tales and stories have shown over the centuries.

Those are probably the main incentives that motivated Christian Bonnot when he fell in love at first sight for the Giroux Mill in Olmet, back in 1975.

And right he was, since 25 years later, there he is, founding an association aiming at bringing it back to life after decades of undeserved neglect.

But such a task is demanding; it takes recklessness and courage to tackle the task of raising tumbled walls downcast by the years and setting back into motion the water gates, the millstones and the wheels of these marvellous hydraulic tools that are the Livradois mills.
And the Giroux mill is undoubtedly one of the most impressive as far as architecture and technique are concerned in the Dore Valley of old times and one of the rarest today !
Let us keep in mind that the districts of Ambert and Thiers used to include 10 to 12 mills in each borough around 1850, i.e. about a thousand buildings over that area, and that there are fewer than a dozen mills left open to visitors today.

As he was well aware that they were so rare and so precious, Christian Bonnot managed to gather round him a team of enthusiastic voluntary people able to channel the hope of restoring to life one of the jewels of the Dore Valley

Let us hope they will be heard and supported and that students, historians and other regional heritage lovers will soon be able to step into the Giroux Mill and go back in time to meet this moment of truth to be found in the display and the evidence of works and mentalities of past centuries generations.

Jean-Louis BOITHIAS Chercheur en ethnologie régionale.


Translation Solange Soinard © (2000-2004)
all right reserved
Last update : december 2004