On the trail of a vanished industry

Visit to a former starch factory


Gaëlle & Nicolas

The potato from every angle !

  • For you, Epinal Tourism is : Historical treasures to discover
  • Your favourite local dish : The rhubarb juice
  • Your favourite local tourist site : The Moulin Gentrey

The path of the water

After a barefoot expedition to the Adventure Farm, we decided to continue our discovery of the south of the territory with a visit to the Gentrey Mill, a former 19th century starch factory. We are welcomed to the site by a volunteer from the association "Les Kemottes" (which means "potatoes" in local dialect), which has been working for about ten years to revive this site. He immediately plunges us into the daily life of the Beaudoin family who operated this starch factory until 1967.

We head to the back of the building to find ourselves in a green and peaceful setting and stop for a moment along the canal to listen to the story of the "water path" that once guided the water from the Vôge to the large mill wheel.

We approach this famous wooden wheel and our guide activates the mechanism making it turn at high speed. The water flows over the blades and generates the hydraulic force that produces the energy.

From cellar to attic

We then follow the path of the potato, from the cellar where it was stored to the bagging of the starch obtained after the extraction process. We were amazed to learn that it took five tonnes of tubers to make one tonne of starch !

Everything has remained impactful and functional, the cogs, pulleys, belts and other machines are activated one after the other thanks to the water mill and we manage to put ourselves in the shoes of the workers: it sorted, it washed, it grated, it filtered, it decanted, it dried? Until a fine, white and silky powder is obtained, destined for textile factories, paper mills, glucose factories, etc. Mixed with water, potato starch gave a kind of glue which was used to make the threads more rigid and resistant.

Our guide shows us a lot of unsuspected objects that can be made from starch: bags, water bottles, cosmetics... He even shares a recipe for glue to reproduce at home!

Potatoes with every kinds of sauces

The experience ends in the former straw loft which has been transformed into a reception room. Inside, old agricultural machinery is on display. The authentic and rural setting is ideal for sharing a moment of conviviality with other visitors.

Guided tours are offered from March to the end of October, every Friday and Sunday afternoon. 3 options are available : visit only (5€), with snack (10€), with meal (28€). We opted for the snack option : such a rich and complete visit is very tiring! On the menu: local juice, apple-rhubarb crumble (it's in season), scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and a potato jam roll cake, of course!

We'll be back soon for a concert, a theme night or a game night over a gratin dauphinois or a nice tray of chips.

Unique site in the Vosges

Pleasant and atypical environment

Catering, accommodation, festive evenings