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La Ferté sous Jouarre

La Ferte-sous-Jouarre has a bizarre claim to fame: it used to make the world's best millstones. On a roundabout when you enter the city, you'll see your first millstone, but nothing is made of it. The Guide de découverte du patrimoine meulier is a nice leaflet with maps that indicate interesting places and information from La Ferte-sous-Jouarre's heyday as the millstone capital of the world. Unfortunately, some of the things listed in the guide are in the process of being built, while others don’t exist any longer!

One outstanding item that remains from the millstone time is the quarry holes that dot the countryside around the village. You'll find hundreds of quarries on hills and at the feet of hills in the area, so be careful when you go hiking. Alas, the millstones are gone; only a couple of companies in this once-booming industry survived into the 20th century.

Attractions (besides millstones)

Le Port Aux Meules is the quay where barges were loaded with millstones, and it is surprisingly breathtaking. Because of the weight it had to support, it's built of monoliths cut from the quarries the millstones came from. The port grew gradually less important as the railway was built through La Ferte-sous-Jouarre.

You can also visit the Chateau des Bondons, a totally renovated chateau of the 18th century surrounded by a 12 acre park. Author Georges Ohnet once owned this residence, but it is now a very nice hotel, and probably the only real attraction to La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. The Chateau is very convenient to Disney Europe and Paris, and is quiet and charming. You should reserve early, as there are only four available rooms, but if you want to have a quiet and atmospheric start for your journeys around France, you could choose worse places than the Chateau des Bondons.