At the beginning of our travels in France, Audrey and I hit the road to Le Moulin Bregeon. I had been planning this little visit for a while since being put in touch with the Moulin’s owner, Jonathan, by friends in the Loire. I’m a sucker for the storybook life which is part of the reason I love living in France. Being a drive away from places like the Loire where fairytales feel quite real. During our stay there one word kept coming to mind: connection. A few days at the Moulin suddenly made me so aware of just how detached we can be in the city and suburban life. We seem so disconnected from knowledge about the sources of the food we eat, knowing and caring about the people we live amongst, the impact of our own consumption and actions day-to-day, unaware of animals and nature with such limited exposure. Every time I return to the countryside all of that changes. My senses come alive from the little sounds of bugs, to the smell of damp foliage. I think about the things I put in the trash and down the drain and where they end up, as I watch the little stream from the kitchen window and the ducks swimming in it. I think about the things I’m eating and the care it took to grow them. When was the last time you ate something cooked for you by the same people who grew it? Greatness at the Moulin is in the simple things, like the feat of eating a delicious potato salad made from potatoes and green onions grown in the garden, and even mayonaise made fresh from eggs laid by the free ranging chickens earlier that morning. Fresh is not sufficient enough a word to describe the taste of such a thing, nor delight to describe the joy of eating it. Bliss is more like it. There are not many rules at the Moulin but the ones in place are important: respect nature, respect animals, respect people. Encompassed in that is composting and recycling. But what is this Moulin more precisely than a harmonious little community that is beautiful and delicious? A moulin in French is an old mill, and artist Jonathan Scott Robinson bought this one about twenty years ago. It has been a labor of love ever since, one he shares with both the people who come to work here and call it home, and also with guests visiting for retreats of all kind of just travels. In the western Loire you’ll find it down a little dirt road between fields of sunflowers and some cows along the way. The property has several buildings, some already restored and inviting guests, and others works in progress or waiting for funding or the perfect idea. Five luxury suites already host guests for corporate retreats, antique excursions, culinary courses and more. Above all Jonathan sees the Moulin as an esthetic refuge, a place that preserves the beauty of French architecture, food, art, and more too often left to ruin or replaced by modernism even in France.
LE MOULIN BRÉGEON
The moulin is home to 6 geese, 5 ducks, 5 turkeys, 1 rooster, and 7 hens. They’re all free-ranging and lovingly raised. Figaro the chocolate lab was born here at the Moulin. His mother lived her life here as well. He gets along perfectly with all the birds and other animals, and all the guests, spending his days napping and popping around to say hi and check on everyone. We visited Jonathan’s studio to see his gorgeous oil pastels and paintings in the works. You can view more of his work on his website. Nicole, one of the resident sous chefs for the summer is also pictured in the garden before dinner. The garden is 1200 square ft. and grows tomatoes, fennel, basil, parsley, cilantro, pumpkin, squash, lettuce, potatoes, rosemary and so much more. Farm to table is a way of life at the Moulin. What doesn’t come from the garden, comes from local farmers often just up the road. The eggs come from the the chickens directly at the Moulin as well. Nicolas, is the master of the garden who is pictured relaxing with Figaro before another amazing dinner. Jonathan and company are also hard at work on renovating the nearby village and have a grand vision for a beautiful community for even more retreats and living where people value art, nature, food, and all the good things in life.