Franche-Comté is located in the east of France along the Swiss border. It is part of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is characterized by its cultural and historical assets and is composed of a variety of
Franche-Comté is located in the east of France along the Swiss border. It is part of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is characterized by its cultural and historical assets and is composed of a variety of topographical ensembles and natural landscapes. Indeed, it is home to vast mountains and magnificent reliefs. Among its greatest monuments is the Grande Saline de Salins-Les-Bains which our article will discuss.
The Grande Saline contains exploitation of igneous salt. It has been producing salt for 1200 years. It constitutes the whole of two salt works or sauneries in the department of Jura. It is located in the town of Salins-les-Bains, south of Besançon. And the latter owes its prosperity to the former activity of the Great Saltworks.
The Grande Saline is one of the oldest factories in France. It was built in the 13th century to protect the saltwater wells. It looks like a cathedral with a length of 165 square meters. Its incredible millennial architecture gives it a memorable and unique value.
Its history dates back to the Middle Ages and is marked by the natural gift of salt production. At that time, this exploitation employed more than 800 people, including blacksmiths, sauniers, woodcutters, coopers, and carmen.
It has had this particularity to produce salt and “white gold” from saltwater sources for about 7000 years. Three saltworks were created in Salins-Les-Bains, including the Chauderette de Rosières, the Petite Saline, and the Grande Saline, which is the only one to have survived to this day.
In 1962, it closed its doors. It was re-invented as a tourist site on June 27, 2009, and classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since it became a cultural site, its visitors number about 70,000 annually.
The most important feature of this region is, of course, the salt mines. During your visit to Franche-Comté, the specificities of the Grande Saline will not go unnoticed. Its unavoidable charm will offer you an unforgettable stay.
So, to get a taste of what awaits you, here are the spectacular monuments of the Grande Saline. The Grande Saline combines a history of hard work with prestigious architecture, passionate lives, and a moving treasure.
- A visit must be booked six weeks in advance for groups of people.
- The tour is always guided with the exception of a thirty-minute of free time.
- For children between the ages of seven and twelve, there is the “White Gold Rush” tour which ends with a workshop to show them the procedures for making salt.
The Golden Age
The Grande Saline is an artisanal and industrial operation specialized in salt production. As incredible as it may seem, it contains natural salt from the evaporation of a prehistoric sea. This salt is located at a great depth, 250 meters.
The Salt Museum
This museum represents the union of the Grande Saline and the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans. This building contains many very attractive things. When you enter it, the whole room is intact, meaning that nothing that was there has been altered. Indeed, all the materials used at the time have been preserved as on the first day.
Among them are the various operating tools, the salt carts, the gnawed woodwork, and the salt pan. Authenticity is in the spotlight, and you will not be disappointed at all. The museum is made of stones in the shape of splendid vaults. Its aesthetics are the result of almost 1,200 years of craftsmanship and architecture with attention to every detail.
The underground gallery
It consists of a hydraulic pumping system that produces 330 grams of salt per liter brine. To get there, you will have to climb fifty steps that will allow you to do a little sport and adventure at the same time. The thermal atmosphere will be in the forefront, as its internal temperature is 12°C.
The room of the stoves
This is the only sign of the great work done by the salt workers at that time.
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