The Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains was active for at least 1200 years, until stopping activity in 1962.
The underground galleries and hydraulic pumping system are the last remains of the system used for the extraction and channelling of the brine. On the surface, the Boiler Room demonstrates to the difficulty of the saltworkers’ labor. Visiting the saltworks helps to understand the history of salt and the techniques for extraction and production obtained by artificial evaporation, unlike techniques used in the salt marshes. Wood was used for combustion before being replaced by coal in the 19th century for economic reasons. The salt produced by this process is called granular salt (brine evaporation by fire).
The Great Saltworks would extract its last tons of salt in 1962 before its closure. A visit of the Saltworks isn’t complete without a visit to the Salt Museum, which traces the history of the site and the extraction of salt, from the Neolithic period to the present day.
About the Great Saltworks of Salins les Bains
La Grande Saline de Salins-les-Bains
Place des Salines, 39110 Salins-les-Bains
Website - tel : 03 84 73 10 92
Full price / reduced price: €8 / €7 / 13 to 18 years old: €4.50 / 7 to 12 years old : €4. Free for children under 7 years old.
Visit of the salt museum only, full price/ reduced price: €4/ €3.
Open every day:
December and January, Monday to Friday: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
February, March and November, every day: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
April and October, every day: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
May, June and September, every day: 9:30 a.m-to 6 p.m.
July and August, every day: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Several departures for guided tours between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
In July and August, visits in English (12:15 p.m.) and German (1:15 p.m.) every day.
Guided tours last 1 hour. Tours are followed by free access to the Salt Museum.
Visit of the Great Saltworks of Salins les Bains
During the visit of the saltworks, vestiges from last millennium are shown through :
The Underground galleries, dating from the 13th century at their oldest, connect two wells. One of them, the “puits Amont”, is equipped with a functioning hydraulic pump from the 19th century. The ground on which it is now running is the direct result of the accumulation of coal ash used for heating.
In the Boiler Room, the last stage of the salt extraction process, one can imagine the difficult work of salt laborers.
At the end of the visit, the Salt Museum allows visitors to learn about this precious condiment.
For young visitors
The Espace jeune public (Young Visitors Area) shows salt in all its forms and all its uses, guided by two characters, Pierre de Sel and Fleur de Sel.
A small-scale model allows children to understand the functioning of the saltworks with different buildings, a hydraulic pump and various freshwater or saltwater circuits.
Educational workshops (evaporation of brine, uses of salt ... ) . During school holidays, the "White Gold Rush" tour is adapted for children from 6 to 12 years, with a demonstration on the crystallization of salt by evaporation.
The booklet "Master of Secrets" is a guide that takes children on a treasure hunt in the village (for children 7 to 12 years old). It is available at the Tourist Office of Salins-les-Bains.
Musée du Sel
The Salt Museum can be visited after the tour of the galleries and boiler rooms. Features films, a collection of technical objects, testimonials and an area for young visitors.