THERE are some seriously spiky machines in the Filature de Belvès, but they are not there to squeeze out a confession, only to start the process of spinning wool.
The spinning mill sits beneath the hill on top of which stands the Dordogne town of Belvès, and it produced yarns up until the 1990s, now it traces the history of a once important industry in the region.
Led by a guide, whose enthusiasm for the story of the mill comes out with a willingness to answer any question and even tackle a little English here and there, you learn how sacks of wool become metres of cloth.
Then following the progress of the wool you head into the carding room where a video is played to give you an idea of the noise and movement of a machine more than 20 metres long which works the wool into a felt.
Other machines show how the wool was turned into yarn and threaded through the eyes of a thousand or more needles to create bobbins of thread that would have been used in the past to make socks and jumpers sold locally or sent across France.
Today much of the equipment in the mill is not used in anger to make things, but the association behind the Filature de Belvès hold regular meetings were experienced spinners can pass on their knowledge to budding apprentices.
The importance of water is also highlighted in the surrounding gardens, where the River Nauze gently flows beneath your feet as you walk along raised platforms, but which powered the mill and many others along its length.
And the sheep themselves are not forgotten either, a series of information boards show the different qualities of different wools as well as some facts and figures on the importance of the wool trade in the world today.
The Filature de Belvès is open every day, except Saturday, between September and June from 14h to 18h. In July and August it is open every day from 10h to 19h. It is closed for a short time from the end of December to early January.
It is free to visit the shop, but an entrance fee applies when visiting the factory itself.
More things to do in the Dordogne
The Tuilières hydroelectric dam and fish lift
A walk around Prats-du-Périgord, the Dordogne
The peace of the river Dordogne from a canoe
Belves Medieval Fair - stepping back in time
Lavaur walk in Dordogne with the trois évêques