Fontvieille Stone the Foundation of Provence
Writer Alphonse Daudet described his affection for the town of Fontvieille and its windmills as follows:
“Ce coin de roche qui m’etait une patrie et dont on retrouve la trace – êtres ou endroits – dans presque tous mes livres”
The translation: This corner of rock was a homeland to me, one which can be traced to beings or places in almost all my books.
Fierce mistral wind gusts registered 65km/hour the day that Nutmeg chose to visit the Ribet or St. Pierre windmill in Fontvieille (‘the old fountain’). This refurbished windmill sits proudly on the crest of a barren, rocky hill, in full retirement after 100+ years of operation between 1814 and 1915. Although the blades no longer turn in a howling north wind, it is easy to understand how the placement of the mill was logical at the time.
The Ribet windmill was one of four built on the same hill; Sourdon, Tisscot-Avon and Ramet, are the names of the others. The best-preserved is the Ribet, although the Sourdon is the oldest. It is a bit hard to envision now as trees and underbrush have been allowed to propagate around these ancient structures (except for Ribet). During the 1800s, these mills were crucial to feeding the growing population of stone-cutters in what is now Fontvieille.