There are two windmills left standing out of the original dozen or more that would have started to occupy the Montmartre hillside from the 16th century onwards. 'Le Moulin Blute-Fin' was built in 1622. The name Blute-fin comes from the French verb bluter which means sifting flour for the separation from bran. 'Le Moulin Radet' was built in 1717. The Debray family acquired the two mills in 1809 for producing flour.
'Le Moulin de la Galette' refers to both mills as a collective unit, so-called since the late 19th century when windmill owners, the Debray family, decided to use the ground milled flour to make a type of flat brown cake or bread (known as a galette) that would be sold with a glass of wine on the premises.
At the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1814, during the siege of Paris three Debray men lost their lives defending the windmill against Cossacks; the miller was killed and nailed to the wings of the windmill.
During the Franco-Prussian War Montmartre was attacked by 20,000 Prussian soldiers. During the siege, Pierre-Charles Debray, the surviving son of the miller killed during the siege of Paris in 1814, was killed and nailed to the wings of the windmill.
In 1833, one of the Debrays decided to open an area for dancing. Le Moulin de la Galette became a popular dance hall and entertainment venue for Renoir, Van Gogh, Lautrec and Picasso. The Galette became an integral part of history for the paintings it inspired. Renoir's 'Bal du Moulin de la Galette' is perhaps the most renowned example. Other notable works include Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 'Au bal du moulin de la Galette' and Vincent Van Gogh, 'Le Moulin de la Galette'
In 1915, the Radet mill, threatened with demolition, was saved by the popular support of the people of Paris. Its owner, Pierre-Auguste Debray, offered it to the Vieux Montmartre society on condition that it be transfered to another site. The wooden pivot-mill was placed above the house at n°1, rue Girardon where it can still be seen today.