Posted 5 years ago
Paris still has a few windmills. Le Moulin Rouge is probably the most famous of the 'moulins à vent' ..... but it is pure pastiche. Not so well known are le Moulin de la Charité and le Moulin Blûte-fin in Montmartre. To the west of the city in the Bois de Boulogne is this fine example with its "maison du garde forestier" on the right.
A country scene?
Well it is meant to look that way. It was built to look like a typical 'moulin pivot' dating back to 1312. It is a reminder of the origins of this corner of the Bois de Boulogne. It is built on the site of the old Abbey of Longchamp that was founded by Isabella, the sister of Saint Louis. It was actually built in 1857.
But before the French Revolution the site of the old Abbey had been bought by the King's brother, the Comte d'Artois. His plan was to create a "Folly" in the fashionable Anglo-Chinese style of the period. There was to be a garden, a Palladian bridge, a Chinese kiosk, mediaeval ruins, chateau: all conceived by an architect François-Joseph Bélanger and Thomas Blaikie.
It was all built by six hundred workers in just 64 days!
Marie Antoinette bet the Comte d'Artois that it could not be done!
It was given an ironic name « la Bagatelle ». This bet had cost the Comte d’Artois millions!
Much of the « Folie d'Artois » survived the Revolution. The site however fell into disrepair and was part of the rebuilding programme of Paris under Napoleon III.
The area nearby became the site of a new race course: the Hippodrome de Longchamp.
The Moulin de Bagatelle stands at the entrance of the racecourse. In fact this photo was taken from the northern edge of the race track.
Septimus and Clara Miller did not see any races while in Paris which would have disappointed them for sure.
But it got me to wondering what else they might have seen there.
Perhaps they saw some of the earliest moments of aviation history?
The aviator Santos-Dumont set a record here at Longchamp in 1906: 220 m in 21 sec. 4.
That was on 12 November 1906. That very same day Charles Voisin had a crash nearby in his Bleriot III, a tandem biplane powered by an Antoinette engine driving two tractor propellers.
Events like this were quite common in the Bois de Boulogne each Sunday and the crowds came to see history in the making.
Paris - la Belle Époque.
This is a postcard published by N.D. Phot No. 96: Neurdein et Cie (1860’s-1919) Paris, France.