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The story of the Moulin XII began in 2000.
 
That was the year when entrepreneurs Dominique and Christelle Parisot decided to make a lifestyle change and move to the country.
Mr Parisot was an industrial engineer in the Greater Paris Region, who ran a group of companies he founded in the industrial IT sector.
Mrs Parisot worked alongside her husband since the start of the venture, as head of Finance and Administration for the group of companies.
The couple shared a passion for old stone buildings and antique furniture. And so they decided to make this passion their new profession.
For this fresh start, they set themselves three objectives: 1. Rescue and renovate a historical property. 2. Open the property to the public, so that other people could enjoy it and to cover the costs. 3. Take advantage of the project to recruit and train unqualified staff in a vulnerable position on the job market.
After several months of research, they chose the Moulin St Denis and its seven-acre grounds, situated in the Eure et Loir départment, in the village of Ste Gemme Moronval, near Dreux.
The estate was named Le Moulin XII. "Moulin" because the site includes a Mill and "12" because when the Parisots undertake a property development project, they add the number of years they have been married to the name of the project. Their minds are made up: they decide to create a guest house.
Before it was called Le Moulin XII, the St Denis Mill belonged to Mr Robert Gerson, a retired former CEO of Mattel France (maker of "Barbie" dolls) who used the estate as a holiday location. It was almost in a state of neglect and of the five storeys of the main building, only the ground floor was usable.
The Parisots then began restoration work that was to take three years to complete and require a colossal amount of investment. Dominique handled the building work (masonry, plastering, electricity, plumbing, etc.) and Christelle worked on the furnishing and decoration.

They agreed from the start to use only noble, aged materials and period furniture.
The work site had been ongoing for about a year when the neighbours of the St Denis Mill, the owners of the Bécheret Mill and the owners of the Bergerie put their respective properties up for sale.
They offered to sell them to Mr and Mrs Parisot.
Difficult to resist such a temptation when you are an entrepreneur at heart!
Initially an ambitious project, Le Moulin XII turned into a gargantuan undertaking.
There were now two old water mills and a former sheep barn, with floor space of 1,000, 800 and 300 square metres respectively, along with their outbuildings, to be renovated, and almost 30 acres of grounds, woods and fields that had not been maintained for years to be cleared.
T
he plan to create a guest house became a plan to create a venue for business seminars and private receptions.
A small team of three workmen was hired to assist Dominique with the building work. Christelle, on the other hand, continued to manage the furnishing and decoration on her own.
She took courses on the subject and gained qualifications in this specialist field.
This team, which is still in place, was responsible for all the restoration work on the entire estate.
For the inauguration in mid May 2003, the work was already well underway: the waterwheels, which had not turned for several decades, had been fully rebuilt, the first floors of the buildings had been entirely renovated, a new reception hall had been built between the St Denis mill and the Bergerie, 12 rooms had been opened and the grounds were impeccable.
B
ut there was still a lot to be done.
The issues they were now facing were two-fold: continue the renovation work and open to the public.
An operating team was hired, to work with Franck Anderloni, former deputy director of a hotel in the Novotel chain.
Mr Parisot freed up some time to work on the marketing concept, design his own sales brochures and the website. Mr Anderloni recruited the staff for his team.
In 2004, the site was given a 4-star Hotel rating by the local Prefecture. A rating that Mr and Mrs Parisot later abandoned, as the site was not intended to be run as a Hotel.
At the same time as business commenced, the renovation continued in parallel. In 2004, the site boasted 20 rooms, which increased to 23 in 2005.
In 2006, private investors joined the venture, providing funds to build a further 27 rooms, a large, new reception hall and an amphitheatre.
In 2007, the estate had 50 rooms available.
Over the same period, the two mills and the Bergerie were fully renovated. The choice of aged materials, antique furniture and the décor gave an authentic, noble character to the ensemble.
In the same way, on the business side, the staff endeavoured to provide a fresh approach to their demanding role, with the satisfaction of a job well done.
At the beginning of 2008, Mr and Mrs Parisot invested in an ultra-modern, professional kitchen. Staff were hired to work under Chef Jean Paul Masselin, with the stated objective of becoming a top-ranking eating place. To the delight of Moulin XII's customers, this objective soon became a reality.
At the end of 2008, 15 new rooms were added, bringing the total to 65.
By the end of 2011, the Moulin XII estate comprises 80 rooms and employs a staff of 25. It has established itself as a leading player in the field of seminar and reception venues in the Greater Paris area. The originality of the high-class accommodation, the quality of the cuisine, the state-of-the art facilities and the efficiency and courtesy of the staff are a winning combination.
Today, the Moulin XII's regular customers include some of the largest French and international corporations and it hosts more than 90 weddings a year.
Encouraged by the success of the décor of the rooms, Christelle Parisot opened her own Upholstery and Decoration workshop. She now works full-time at her new occupation, and even teaches others.
The team that carried out all the renovation work on the estate has transformed itself into a company specialising in furniture renovation.

Christelle and Dominique Parisot's wish has come true, and they have brought the site back to life.

Through the acquisition of multiple neighbouring properties, they in fact unwittingly reconstituted a major Estate as it existed in the 18th century, which had been divided up over the years through a series of successions.
They then began to investigate the history of the site. Although they have not yet completed their research, much has already emerged of the past.

THE MOULIN DE BECHERET

Honour to whom honour is due, the Moulin de Bécheret is the oldest building on the estate.


The site bears traces of the existence of a flour mill since the 12th century. It appears that the Moulin de Bécheret, in its original form, was the mill of St Gemme Abbey.
It was probably rebuilt in the 16th century, as the building's cross-beams have been officially dated to that era.
From the 18th century onwards it becomes easier to follow the saga of the Moulin de Bécheret.
At that time it was a flour mill and a thriving concern, since it was annexed by Louis Philippe in 1840 at a time when Paris was struggling.
Prior to this, the successive owners had planned to create a new mill on their land. The new mill was to be the Moulin St Denis.
At the end of the 19th century, the Moulin de Bécheret enjoyed some respite. The changes in ownership and the divisions due to successions separated the destiny of the mill from that of the Moulin St Denis.
Then World War I broke out. Soldiers took refuge in the mill and carved their names or various messages on the walls and fireplaces. The Moulin de Bécheret would never again produce flour.


On the eve of World War II, the Moulin de Bécheret became a holiday home. The architecture was profoundly altered. The barns and stables were converted into country homes. A huge part of the main building was demolished, making way for an immense terrace above the waterwheel, which was then used to produce electricity.
As the generator producing the current requires a rotation speed of 750 revolutions per minute and the waterwheel struggles to reach five revolutions per minute, a whole system of gears and drive belts was installed.
This system and the generator still exist, only the last belt carriage was disassembled as the generator, although still present, was no longer usable.
After the war, the Moulin de Bécheret fell into the hands of the elite. It was acquired by a famous theatre director. At that time, the banks of the river Eure were becoming very popular with film stars for their leisure pursuits. Gabin, Dietrich and others were regular visitors to the area. Gabin even stayed here, which we will mention further on.
With major architects involved, in December 1957 the Moulin de Bécheret was on the cover of "Art et Décoration", the leading interior design magazine of the time.

                              

It had become a stately home in the country, much sought-after by the Paris show business scene.
Then, as the years passed, the Moulin de Bécheret changed hands several times. In the 1980s, the somewhat less well-off owners could not afford the upkeep.
The Moulin de Bécheret fell into a state of neglect and disrepair and ended up derelict.
In 1999, a couple of Parisian Lawyers tried to breathe some life back into it but the task was colossal.
It was completely dilapidated, with no electricity, heating or plumbing. There had never been any insulation installed. Some of the rooms had not seen the light of day for many years.
A fire broke out and the building narrowly escaped total destruction.
After two years of efforts and in view of the enormous problems facing them, the owners threw in the towel and sold the Moulin de Bécheret to Moulin XII.
It then took 8 years of intensive renovation, with Christelle and Dominique Parisot's fierce determination and totally exorbitant investments to restore the Moulin de Bécheret to its former glory.

THE MOULIN ST DENIS

The Moulin St Denis is much more recent. It was built between 1833 and 1836.
But it wasn't so simple.
In 1826, Pierre Hervé, miller and owner of the Moulin de Bécheret, wished to build a new flour mill on the branch of the river known as "Saint-Denis".
The river Eure splits into three at this spot:
- The main water course serves the Moulin de Bécheret. It is called "major branch" because the mill's floodgates can regulate the level of the river for several miles upstream and downstream of the building.
- The secondary branch runs through the central part of the property.
- Lastly, the Saint Denis branch is right on the other side, and intended to supply the new mill.
The plans to build the new mill met with opposition from people living along the river.
The first to oppose the building, quite understandably, was François Hache, the miller from Mézières en Drouais, the village situated upstream. The competition from a new mill would probably make him lose business and he felt that a new dam would drastically reduce the water power available to his own mill.
Watermills at the time were equipped with Sagebien waterwheels (see "the waterwheels at Moulin XII") which derived their driving power from the waterhead. A new dam would half the waterhead at Moulin de Mézières and would therefore half its power yield.
The second opponent was Pierre Alexis Montion. Mr Montion owned fields along the river banks that were regularly covered with mud when the river was in spate. These spates caused the washerwomen to cross his land (there were no washing machines at the time and the river was used for washing clothes) which "spoilt" them in his opinion. He thought that building a new mill would only aggravate the situation.
Two years went by and Pierre Hervé had still not obtained permission to build his new mill.
So, in October 1828, he decided to retire and to sell the Moulin de Bécheret to François Bonnet, flour merchant, and his wife Elisabeth Lion.
The new owners acquired all the rights to the water, fishing, irrigation and the waterfall belonging to the mill but remained bound by Pierre Hervé's request: they had to persevere with the building of a new mill.
Less than a year later, with things still not moving, François Bonnet took up his pen and wrote to the sub-prefect, informing him he was in possession of all the relevant elements, and that it was now time to make a clear and final decision.
He was able to be rather firm in addressing this important figure as he had been elected Mayor of Saint-Denis de Moronval.
(Saint-Denis de Moronval is the former name of the village of Sainte-Gemme Moronval. St Denis de Moronval was renamed Sainte Gemme Moronval by decree in January 1955.)
The approach seems to have been effective, for in the month of August the appointed civil engineer took the situation in hand and authorised François Bonnet to build a temporary test dam to gauge the consequences of building a new mill on the surrounding riverside properties.
The cogwheels of the administration having been set in motion, on 30 November 1830, Alexis Montion expressed his opposition to the project once more.
On 21 May and 19 June 1832, the divisional inspector and the council of the civil engineering department nonetheless pronounced in favour of the mill. It was therefore legitimate to think that it was finally going to be possible to build the mill.
However, this was not the case, as shown by François Bonnet's letter to the Prefet of the Eure et Loir département in 1832.
The miller had in fact received the order to destroy the said temporary dam in August of the same year.
The miller was completely confused: his mill had been authorised, then prohibited before it had even been built! The prohibition he owed to the opposition of Alexis Montion (him again!). The latter was now complaining of the unpleasant smell issuing from the water that became stagnant because of the temporary dam, criticising, in passing, François Bonnet's other mill, the Moulin de Bécheret…
François Bonnet was somewhat irritated by this, as we can tell from the tone of his letter written according to the usage of the time. It calls Mr Montion's words "sheer meanness" and his assertions "imposture". In his desperation, he offered to send a civil engineer to the site "at his own expense"! To lend weight to his request, the miller did not just sign his name as in the other missives, but added under his signature "flour maker at the Moulin de Bécheret and Mayor of Saint-Denis de Moronval".
On 14 December 1832, the Préfet made his decision and issued a decree authorising the building.
Finally, in 1833, on the advice of the Minister for Trade and Industry, King Louis Philippe issued a royal order authorising and regulating the building of a mill.

                             

The building led to alterations in the configuration of the river: the two banks were raised by three feet by a dirt embankment and a drainage ditch was built along them. One of the branches of the river became the mill's outlet canal.
The construction of the Moulin de Saint Denis therefore commenced in 1833 and the mill was completed in 1836.

From 1877 onwards, the Moulin de Saint-Denis appears to have thrived. From this date, it was identified as a factory in the censuses.
The years 1877-1892 seem to have been the golden age for the flour miller, with the peak period in 1891, given the number of staff employed: the couple of millers, a domestic servant, two clerks, two workmen and two carters. But the decline quickly followed, and in 1896, there were only three people working at the mill.
T
hen came the beginning of the 20th century with his wars and tragedies.
Between the wars, the Moulin de Saint Denis became a bicycle pump factory.
Just after the war, the Moulin St Denis turned into industrial wasteland, was partly burnt down and totally pillaged.
The children of the time played in the ruins and still remember it today.
Then the property was bought by an architect who undertook a property development operation. He partially renovated and divided the site into plots, which he sold. This was when the Bergerie appeared, which Jean Gabin was to acquire, and the Songeraie, the current residence of the Parisots.
In 1984, Robert Gerson, at that time CEO of Mattel France, bought the mill to turn it into a second home.
He sold it in 2001 to Moulin XII, which set to work on the renovation we have described.

THE BERGERIE

Created from the property development mentioned, this building bears the poetic name of "sheep barn" but there is no way of knowing if it ever actually saw a sheep.
I
t appears it has always been called the Bergerie.
Today it is a "mignonne longère" – in-line country cottage, in the typical style of the area. But this was not always the case. It was probably built at the same time as the Moulin St Denis and was one of its outbuildings.

Her history could have been banal without the intervention of one of the iconic stars of French cinema: Jean Moncorgé a.k.a. Jean Gabin, from his middle name.
Jean Gabin loved the village of Ste Gemme Moronval and before the Second World War he had bought a small manor house there as a country home.
Enlisted in the green berets, he only came back to Ste Gemme Moronval after the liberation.
On his return, he found out that his manor house had been occupied by the Gestapo.
Whether the whim of a celebrity or a patriotic impulse, he then decided to have it demolished and rebuilt identically to the original.
During this operation, he bought several properties in the village of Ste Gemme Moronval, including the famous Bergerie.
He then fell prone to doubt, thought his film career was over and worried about his family's future.
So he decided to build a farm. That way, at least they would never go hungry.
But his ambitions were vast. He wanted to buy the whole village.
Asking farmers from the Beauce to sell their land and their village! Only a Parisian would have thought of that!
Firmly rebuked, he was forced to pursue his project a little further on, in the Orne, and to sell all his properties in Ste Gemme Moronval.
The pretty cottage then continued to change hands until October 2002, when it was bought, along with the extensive land surrounding it, by Moulin XII.
 
In 2005, the Parisots bought the Songeraie. The Estate had been restored to its initial configuration.
 
Just a bit of history in France of a corner of the Drouais...

 

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Testimonials

Latifa Hakkou
DDBLink

"I assure you our seminar took place under excellent conditions (the setting, logistics, etc.). We are all very satisfied with this stay which gave us the impression of being "on holiday at our country residence". Your competent, friendly and discrete staff (Florian, the catering, maintenance, etc.) did everything to make this seminar a real success. The accommodation and catering were perfect. We were absolutely delighted. You will most likely be contacted on my behalf by a person from ARSEG (association des Directeurs des Services Généraux) regarding the organisation of a seminar at the beginning of February.
Yours,"

 

Links

Find all the others domains and activities of Moulin XII on:

www.lemoulinsaintdenis.fr
for a wedding's website
www.lemoulindebecheret.fr
for another wedding's website
www.lesecuriesdumoulin12.fr
for another wedding's website
www.clousetgalons.fr
for decoration and tapestry activities
www.lareserveornitho.fr
for the bird park

Enjoy your visit!

Ecoresponsable

Ecologically involved much before it became a marketing notion, since its opening in 2003, the whole site is an opportunity for you to fulfil a happy gaterering with a truly limited impact on the environment. Ask for our ecological charter on your next visit.

 

Legal Notice

« The Moulin XII » is a FestiServices mark
SAS au capital de 34.820€
RCS Chartres B437 959 828
Head Office: 1 chemin de l’Eglise 28500 Sainte Gemme Moronval
Phone number: +33 2.37.43.47.10