Friday, August 15, 2014

More fun in the village, or…

Mill festival.

As noted in my blog (originally typed "bog", hmmm... am I making a remark about my own writing?) about the fulsome neighbourhood festival last Saturday in the village, the lack of inhabitants in some of the smaller villages certainly doesn’t mean a lack of enthusiasm and energy for festivals.

Last Sunday, it was the turn of the “neat”, “refined” or “fine” mill – “Moulin Fine” – to show off.
Researching a bit I discovered that the “Fine” has absolutely nothing to do with the adjectives that I have cited above, but was, rather, the name of its former owner – François Décaillet, commonly called “Fine”. 
The history itself is that of a cereal mill, which had its ups and downs (for those of you who can read French, the web-site gives many fascinating details:

A foundation duly constituted in 1988 undertook the reconstitution of the mill, which was first opened again in 1992 (they date the original mill back to the Middle Ages, but as the foundation puts it “it slept more than it worked” and was a very off and on type of enterprise.  Other renovations and it opened more or less for good in 2009. In 2014 though they had to replace the wooden water wheel itself, so it is an on-going work of love for traditions that keep it in place.

But back to our festival: this functioning flourmill is open to the public the second Sunday of the month during the “good” (read summer although we have had precious little of that this year!) season with this most recent one being the “cereal market”.

The cereals were brought up from the valley via the old stagecoach road (linking the Valais in Switzerland to Chamonix in France, it is thought that it served quite often various robbers in the area: a quick way to get over the mountain after committing larceny in Switzerland) by a family from Mex and their two donkeys.

Stopping first in Old Salvan so that they, and we, could enjoy some of the traditional dances put on by the “Vieux Salvan”, then down the road in a joyous band (with the organiser repeating every few minutes: “the roads are open, please be careful, particularly of your children as the cars are also coming through”. I noted that most were from out of state and had worried looks on their faces). There was an opportunity to buy bread made from last month’s ground flour as well.

Once at the mill (I was with very smart locals so we reached the few tables first and staked out a spot in the shade), it was party time. On offer, grilled meats including the ever-present sausages, raclette, and platters of the local dried meats and cheeses, all accompanied by your drink of choice, red, white, yellow (beer) with the occasional bottle of water or soda.

Throughout the two millers relayed each other in giving explanations – one could actually watch them grinding the cereal that had been brought up.

– and an accordionist made things even livelier.

All in all – another great way to spend a day.