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The story of Planchette: part 1

Unravelling the previous lives of the old buildings

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Today three buildings - the house, the barn and the stables (as well as a strange old shack and some mysterious piles of rocks) - stand at the end of a kilometre long dirt road surrounded by nature 1,5 hours from Paris towards Le Mans.

We moved into this miraculously deserted location in December with an intention of starting an alternative guesthouse project thinking that a beautiful place like this should be shared with people.

Air picture of Moulin de Planchette

From the first day, it was evident that in order to start any project, it would be essential to try to understand the history of this sedimented pearl where over decades and centuries, generation after generation built a layer on top of the previous one, transforming the place into quite a curiosity and mystery.

It is clear that Planchette has seen life. We have little idea of the year the house was first constructed. A civilized guess would date the oldest part between 15th and 17th century. Stumbling on the different heights of floors and endless sets of abandoned pipes and wires, we can at least confirm that there has been several changes during the last century. In fact, we do know that Moulin de Planchette has passed through the hands of at least five different owners over the last 50 years.

In order to find answers to the earlier phases of the buildings - the differently built walls, mysterious water leaks and concrete structures buried in the yard - always curious Paul started an investigation of old maps and documents to put together the pieces of the puzzle.

Moulin de Planchette (air view 1950)

Looking at the maps Paul found, we can quite easily see that two of the buildings, the barn and the stable, were built between 1850s and 1950s. At this time, Planchette was no doubt bought by a farmer that build facilites suitable for carrying out agricultural activities (as seen by the use of land in the aerial picture from the 1950, above).

Moulin de Planchette in December 2019

The house - a masterpiece of mix-and-match patchwork construction - exists in older maps in varying fashions. However, the maps are so scarce (I'm only adding the most relevant ones) and unreliable that we can not really say for sure what in the map presents which part of the house, let alone decipher the old structures and strange buried parts. Anyhow, looking at the south facade of the house (above), we can easily distinguish that there is parts build in different periods. The most out-sticking oddity, the tower, was added most likely in the 1980s as some sort of owner's fantasy (who wouldn't like a tower in their house?) since it's not seen in the map we found from 1968.

Moulin de Planchette location (Cassini Map XVIIIe)

Comparing the Cassini map from approx. 1780 (above) and the map of 1826 (under) there has been quite a bit happening at least in the accuracy of the map. The big road seems to have moved but a mill is visible in both maps. The dirt road that derives from the main one hasn't changed since 1826. In the map of 1826 we can also see that the house was indeed much smaller. The other building on the map might be either an old part of the house or not even existing anymore -maybe we will find out some day (or not).

Planchette map around 1822

After all, writing the post in an old salon where somene has installed a beautiful cement tile floor in around 20s or 30s, one can feel the pass of the time and lives. Digging up some old maps might seem a bit geeky but as interesting as what we are going to do here, it would be to know how the place has been used and transformed over the time and how its inhabitants have seen it. Maybe we will be able to get in touch with some of the more recent owners. Anyhow, the next blogpost will be a little bit more about what we are up to!

There is also something a little bit more wild thing that Paul came across with… that something could have existed at Planchette even in the Roman times as a study from 1846 - 1866 indicates! It might as well refer to the mansion of Planchette, who knows...

We welcome you to come visit the place and explore it, solve the mysteries of old stones or guess as your intuition leads you :)

Iéna & Paul

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