On the outskirts of a small town in central France, nestled between rolling pastures and a babbling river, sits a 500-year-old paper mill. Such a landmark isn’t noteworthy for its age – the French countryside is dotted with ancient sites just like this one. The Moulin du Got stands out because it’s still functional. It has produced paper throughout its entire half-century of existence – save for five decades in the twentieth century. And it continues to create paper today, using machines and techniques from the sixteenth century onward.
History Comes Alive
When I lived in Limoges, a city about 30 kilometers from Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, my boyfriend and I visited the paper mill. It’s open for guided tours, where visitors can watch antique papermaking techniques firsthand. Complementing the paper production is a gallery of paper artwork by world-renowned artists and a mid-twentieth century printing press. At the Moulin du Got, they make the paper with an 18th-century machine, then print on it with a 20th-century one. Most of the paper they fashion into notebooks, bookmarks, postcards, or other goods and sold at the boutique. Some of it goes to their clients, like book editors or other printing shops. The rest of the paper the Moulin du Got creates is reserved for their many workshops or programs, which people of all ages can attend.
The Moulin du Got is an undeniable treasure in France’s Haute-Vienne département. If you’re ever in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit. You can read more about its history and modern-day operations in an article I wrote for French travel magazine France Revisited.
How to Get There
You can reach the village of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat by train or bus from Limoges. Although, the bus stop is much closer to the center of town. From the tourist office (directly across the street from the bus stop), it’s about a 40-minute walk to the Moulin du Got. Apparently a lovely path from the town to the mill runs along the river, but we were pressed for time so we stuck to the main road.