Arriving at Le Moulin Jaune in Crecy-la-Chapelle, there are only a few gentle hints at the magic behind its high wall. Cutouts and silhouettes of fantastical creatures decorate sections along the concrete and wood façade. Once inside, the Le Moulin Jaune truly unveils itself as a surprising and artful homage to the absurd and beautiful.
Giant, wooden-wheeled, anatomically correct skulls leer out from behind the trees abutting the pathways. Gypsy wagons blare scratchy tunes from old Victrolas. Lush, green gardens are strewn with chairs, tables and the occasional carriage or stylized winged piano. A red crystal chandelier sways from a tree branch over the lazy stream. A bamboo forest and Japanese pavilion appear, incongruously, out of the woods. And a long, mirrored wooden table infinitely reflects back the canopy of weeping willow and bits of sky above it.
Even the public restrooms are quirky works of art, covered in emerald shaded wall tiles and a dozen randomly placed toilet paper holders loaded with matching mint TP. At the heart of the compound, the eponymous, boldly painted “Yellow Mill,” an actual 1802 mill building converted into a home and workspace, sits humming like a hive of creativity.
Le Moulin Jaune is the brainchild of Slava Polunin, a professional clown of Russian extraction who has created this surreal and magical spectacle that dwarfs any stage production. He considers his home to be a living, breathing piece of performance art that constantly shifts and changes as people walk through and experience it. Among those walking around the property are other members of his clown troupe, Academy of Fools, dressed in absurd hues and wearing oversized hats.
Le Moulin Jaune is only open to the public a few times per year, adding to its mystique, and tickets are limited, albeit inexpensive, at 10 euros per person. It is located approximately 50 kilometers from central Paris and is well worth the voyage.
Know Before You Go
You can drive the 40 minutes from Paris or you can take an SNCF Transilien commuter train from Gare de L'Est. Take the yellow line Line P with a change at Esbly to the station Villiers Montbarbin in Crecy-la-Chapelle. Be sure to check the opening times on the website before you go because it is closed most of the time.