Le Moulin has existed, in one way or another, since the 17th century. The Roman aqueduct led the waters of the Camandoule to the mill. The water carried the large paddle wheel, which can be seen behind the window at the entrance to the restaurant, was subsequently drained through a channel under the terrace and flowed into the camandre. The word “doule” is a Provençal diminutive, Camandoule means little Camandre, therefore Moulin de la petite Camandre.
Originally this old mill was probably part of Fayence under the protection of a Monsignor, who resided in the village. When the Arab conquerors arrived in the 16th century, the inhabitants took refuge on the hill where they built the village that we see today, but it is obvious that a mill could not be moved.
In 1834, it was rebuilt more or less in its current structure. The date is engraved on one of the large stones in the living room. These stones, of the same size, were imported from Tuscany and used in all the mills from Menton to Sète.
At the end of 1954, the Mill was bought by the Coste family, who restarted the mill. Mr. Coste was the last Miller of the Mill, in fact the great frost of 1957 caused irreversible damage to all olive trees in Provence, eliminating for many years any hope of a harvest. He continued to exploit the lands of Camandoule by producing melons, apples, and cherries. These fresh fruits were very popular with the locals.
The Coste family sold the Moulin in 1964. Since that date, the “Moulin” part has briefly fallen into disuse. The property was bought in 1968 by a Belgian couple who renovated it and transformed it into a hotel restaurant.
TAll the grinding wheels and presses, all the original machinery is in place and it is said that the mill could be running again within ten days.
Today Shirley Rilla, who bought the Camandoule in 1986, has passed the torch to Nicolas Torremocha and Stéphane Sauner, both of whom are childhood friends and former employees.
Oil making and the meaning of chamber names
The olive trees were bundled in order to knock down the ripe olives which, collected in squalls, a sort of jute cloth, were put in large baskets of straw and transported to the mill by ox cart. There, they were put in bushels (in order to measure the olives à la molte) called Tinéon and brought to the depot which, today, is the Tabatière room. You can see two of these buckets in front of the stable room, where the miller kept his mules. In reality, “Tabatière” is the name given to the small wooden channel through which the olives arrived in the large millstone. We can see it in the living room coming from the ceiling above which is the room of that name, formerly called a houarie where the olive growers stored their harvest as it went and where, during the press season from December to February, there is had about thirty tons of olives. This weight being very heavy, to support it Mr Tardieu had the revolutionary idea in 1900 to reinforce the ceiling with steel beams. He conceived this idea during a visit to Paris where he admired the construction of the new Eiffel Tower. The first cold pressing The olives were crushed by the large millstone until they formed a kind of paste (not too crushed so that the paste did not squirt between the Escourtins which was put in baskets of straw called Escourtins. They were therefore stacked, one on top of the other, under the presses in the living room. Originally there were four, one of which was removed to make room for a door. This first pressing produces the Virgin Oil which is of the best quality. It flowed along the canal below the presses and was poured into steel buckets called Estagnon, (one can be seen in the living room above the bar near the wooden barrel). the more the contents of the Escourtins were squeezed, the more oil was produced, but the astute miller, since the third press (which we will discuss below) is his profit, tried to squeeze as little as possible in order to conserve water. oil for itself.The residue of Escourtins is called the Grignon.
The second hot pressing The Escourtins were then emptied and cleaned of their pomace. This paste was then taken up and mixed with hot water to burst the oil cells that had not been broken during the first grinding. The same process of pressing followed until the oil rose to the surface, then it was skillfully collected by means of a shallow steel dish with a long rod called a leaf (you can see one hanging against the living room wall). The result of this second pressing always gave a very good quality oil. It was all hard work because of the surrounding heat. During lunch hour, hungry workers dipped their toast in a pan used to heat and drain the oil. It was called a Casseton, and the wooden fork with which the bread was toasted a Roustide. The third operation called Ressance It consisted of washing the pomace in the second mill which is in the restaurant today. The residue was washed there with a large fork called a Rabaillot until the pits descended through a small channel to the present kitchen. Finally, the skins were put in new Escourtins and pressed one last time. All the juice then went to the Infers (cellar which consisted of collecting oil from the surface of the basins) producing the oil which constituted the miller's profit. The last remains were placed in wooden barrels with two handles called Brouquet and sent to Marseille to become the famous “Savon de Marseille”.