intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
Lulled by the susurrations of the Lesse River, the Resteigne Mill, a wonderful half-timbered building, has long been party to the river’s peaceful airs. The present building dates from the second half of the 18th century and was extended in the19th century. Its walls of limestone rubble are typical of the architectural style of the region, and you will be welcomed through an attractive door with a scalloped lintel dated 1792. The gable wall to the west, pierced by several windows, has retained its decorative half-timbered and brick façade, and overlooks the wooden footbridge that crosses the Lesse and runs alongside the ford. Your hosts Georges and Géraldine will welcome you warmly into this haven of peace, of authenticity and unspoiled nature.
The original, half-timbered main façade dates back to the 18th century. © Moulin de Resteigne
The Resteigne Mill, listed as a historic monument in 1994, seems to have defied the passage of time. As far back as 947, a cartulary from the Abbey of Stavelot, the owner of part of the Resteigne region, records an exchange with a certain Everard, of ‘six manor houses with church tithes, a mill, a wood, and 25 serfs’ at Resteigne. It was common for watermills or windmills to be built and maintained as dependencies of a monastery or local lord who owned the river, and who dictated that the local harvest be ground on the premises, on which a levy would be imposed and paid to the water master, the lord of the manor, and to the miller.
Since then, it has seen different owners and changes in use. It was an oil mill and sawmill-carpenter’s workshop in the Middle Ages. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Resteigne estate was renowned for its sheep farming and wool production – the deeds record a tithe-free sheepfold – and at that time, where the present mill is situated, there was a fulling mill where the wool underwent its first degreasing process. From the beginning of the 19th century, the Resteigne mill was re-established as a flour mill where generations of millers made their living.
The ford that was used as a sheep crossing can still be seen today at the perimeter of the mill © Moulin de Resteigne
The millstream or diversion channel carrying water from the Lesse to the mill wheel attractively borders the garden’s lawn. It is interesting to note though, that some mills, via a system of weirs constructed with solid beams or stone, could be supplied with water from some distance, even as far as a kilometre away.
The mill is shown on a map by Ferraris (18th century) © Carte de cabinet des Pays-Bas autrichiens, KBR
In 1950, George Devis, owner of the Devis and Fils company in Brussels, and in love with this beautiful part of the Famenne region, bought the Resteigne Mill from the last in the line of millers, but allowed him to live there until 1959. He restored and converted the mill and the main building into a country house, where he spent pleasant, relaxing times with his family away from the stresses of business in the capital.
The fireplace and the Delft tiles lend warmth and authenticity to the mill. © intoHistory
However, for generations of millers and their large families, the mill served principally as a workplace and had rudimentary comforts. George Devis, a determined connoisseur, patiently salvaged old materials – laying marble slabs on the floors and installing an imposing fireplace in the dining room, which he decorated with Delft tiles – and created an authentic and comfortable homestead.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, the present owner and his wife continue to improve this charming building. Passionate about the mill’s history, they have decorated it with taste, and have judiciously reinstated a small hydro-electric generator that produces enough energy for the family and its guests.
You will be captivated by the Resteigne Mill. The murmuring waters reassuringly evoke the rhythms of the day – but you will sleep undisturbed, many metres away, on the other side of the building. In the flower-filled garden you can tickle the fish in the Lesse River. The owner will be more than pleased to share his passion for the mill with those who want to know more, and to show them the fish hatchery that his grandfather, a food connoisseur, had installed to breed trout for his delectation ‘when he returned from a week’s work in the city’.
The mill wheel is now used as a small hydroelectric plant © Moulin de Resteigne
After your day’s explorations, you can relax and read by the fire in the large sitting room. Two comfortable bedrooms – the yellow, and the blue – simply but warmly decorated in a country style, guarantee a restful sleep. In the morning, in the lovely Delft dining room, you will be served a delicious breakfast, with homemade jams and farm produce. When the sun has risen, you will be beguiled back into the garden and the boxwood-scented vegetable garden, and to another day of bliss!
Le Val de Lesse, renowned for its woods and natural parks and populated with exceptional flora and fauna, has a multitude of activities to offer adults and children – kayaking, horse riding, cycling along the RAVel cycle paths, mountain biking, fishing, and walks and hikes far from city crowds. When you cross the wooden footbridge, the River Lesse will lead you through fascinating countryside. A few kilometres from the mill, the river disappears 45 metres underground into the Belvaux chasm, where 100 thousand years ago, this indomitable river created the underground galleries of the Han grotto, which is one of the most beautiful in Europe.
The Han caves with their sculptural stalactites and stalagmites are a must-see destination. © Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
To the west of Han-sur-Lesse, lies the Château de Lavaux Sainte-Anne , a harmonious mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture. It offers an educational tour of its listed nature sanctuary, which is of great biological interest. History buffs will enjoy exploring the moats and the fortress with its dungeons, and keep; as well as finding out more about the feudal lords in the Museum of the life of the Seigneurs de Lavaux. Other interesting permanent exhibitions include one of rural life in Famenne and the other of the countryside and hunting.
Eleven kilometres from the mill, the Château Lavaux offers three museums of local history. © Photophilde
Further to the north at Houyet, the Lesse is navigable for water activities to the delight of kayaking enthusiasts.
Endroit reposant, en pleine nature. Accueil plus que souriant. Très authentique.
Ravie du moment passé là-bas.
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Moulin de Resteigne
Mrs. Géraldine Devis
Rue du Moulin 143a
Tel +32 84 38 85 57
Mill’s own website
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