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Living in an Old Mill

If, like most of us, you are fed up with the awful summer weather we have and are wishing that you had a bolthole in the sun, you will envy Trish Purnell with her renovated flour mill in sunny Burgundy. Trish, a retired school teacher living in Cambridgeshire, with sons in their early thirties, had for a while been mulling over the idea of buying a holiday home in France and started investigating the market in May 2006. She chose the Burgundy area, not only for its good transport links making it drivable from the UK in a day, but also because it is an area which has not become a British enclave. So many of our favourite holiday areas in France have lost their appeal with half of the Home Counties spending the summer there.

The Purnells went to look at a selection of houses in July 2006 and came across the ''Moulin de l’Homont'', in the Bresse region of Southern Burgundy, having first been attracted by the photographs which they had seen. With the property living up to their expectations, they made an offer on their first viewing and embarked on the purchase process, which according to Trish was “not without its hurdles”. Four months later the mill was theirs.

The oldest part of the mill is around 200 years old although the previous owner, a Swiss engineer, responsible for its renovation eight years earlier, had added two bedrooms and a sitting room. The miller himself used to live in a cottage next to the mill, which was renovated and extended some fifteen years ago.

The tranquil setting of the mill means that it is a haven for wildlife; some of Trish’s guests have even seen wild boar. The ever-present sound of running water adds to the tranquil atmosphere, ideal for Trish’s two sons who are both living and working in London. With a west-facing balcony, sunsets can be spectacular.

With the hard work of the renovation project having been done already, Trish and her sons have thoroughly enjoyed setting up their new home, taking some items out from the UK but also having fun purchasing furniture in France and meeting interesting people along the way. The mill has been well used in the last ten months and the Purnells intend going there as often as they can, either as a family or with friends.

The Bresse region has the best of both worlds: on one side, the Burgundy vineyards and on the other, the Jura mountains with their beautiful lakes, waterfalls and scenery. The cities of Lyon and Dijon provide plenty of sight seeing opportunities or if you don’t want to stray too far, the lovely towns of Tournus, Cluny, Beaune and Chalons sur Saone are well worth exploring. If, on the other hand, you prefer just to chill on your holiday and enjoy great food and wine, then this is an ideal location for doing just that.

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