The Retrodor Baguette: Its Origins and Its Creators

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A brief history


The great mills of the Beauce, a region between the Seine and Loire rivers southwest of Paris, have a long history. No wonder the region is known as the breadbasket of France.


Looking back over the history of wheat mills, we discover that it is tied to their principal tool: the millstone.

A simple grindstone in a fixed position or a hollow mortar with a pestle in the Neolithic era, the mill came to life with the Greeks, who were already using water to operate one stone turning against another, thanks to a pedestal-based mill with a single axle.

The double stone became a true milling machine with the Romans, whose hand-powered mill was pushed by prisoner-slaves, especially where they used gears that allowed for several axles.

In Gaul, in the third century C.E., millstones were placed at the heart of the first water-powered mills.

But it was in the Carolingian period that this technique really took off. Thirty mills have been identified in this period on the neighboring Eure and Blaise rivers.

However, the farmers of the Beauce plateau were too far away from the rivers, so they had animals turn their stones, in “merry-go-round mills” that yielded small quantities.

In the fourteenth century, they began to install their precious stones under the characteristic wooden frames of Beauceron windmills, quite different from the stone mill towers found south of the Loire.


 

The Viron family tradition in milling and breadmaking began in 1815, near Châteaudun at the heart of the Beauce, then in the mills of Evreux (in Eure) and Froidmontel (in Loir and Cher).



In 1927, the Viron family acquired the Moulin Lecomte, one of the mills driven by a waterwheel in the busy Eure valley.

History tells us that Philippe Auguste, King of France (1180-1223), gave this mill to Thibaut VI, Count of Chartres; that’s why it’s called “the count’s mill”: le moulin du Comte, or Moulin Lecomte.

The Moulin Lecomte, mentioned in documents as early as the thirteenth century, used millstones for grinding until the late nineteenth century, when the steel roller was invented. This machine crushes grain between two large cylinders turning in opposite directions. Unlike millstones, steel cylinders are very sturdy and do an excellent job of separating kernels from husks.

When Edmond Viron bought the Moulin Lecomte in 1927, he transformed it into a modern facility that could grind 24,000 kilos of grain per day.

Later on, in 1975, Philippe Viron commissioned the Sangati company in Padua to build an ultra-modern mill capable of grinding 140,000 kilos of wheat in 24 hours, making it one of France’s major family-owned mills.


 

In 1995, Alexandre Viron took over the management and brought the mill’s equipment into line with European norms. The goal was and is to meet the highest possible standards of quality.

The reputation of the Minoteries de Viron stems partly from its privileged geographical situation, in the middle of the Beauce region, the heartland for French wheat. But it also comes from the Viron family expertise that goes back six generations. The mill’s assets include laboratories and test bakeries where the quality of the raw materials—the grain—can be analyzed before milling, and the finished products—the bread—can be evaluated afterward.

Its success comes, too, from the collaboration of a team of highly qualified professionals. The Minoteries Viron offer a guarantee of quality, and the brand, the Retrodor Baguette, has had great success in France. It’s the fruit of the company’s long artisanal experience: goodness and beauty combined.