Plage et domaine résidentiel de l'Argentière, 83250 La Londe-les-Maures.
only after appointment.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||L=90 m.|
Mines de l'Argentière, Plage et domaine résidentiel de l'Argentière, 83250 La Londe-les-Maures.
OFFICE DE TOURISME Classé, Avenue Albert-Roux, 83250 LA LONDE LES MAURES, Tel: +33-494-01-53-10. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1890||construction of the coastal railway.|
|1900||mining slows down due to serious accidents and the exhaustion of the main vein.|
|1904||falling metal prices make the mine unprofitable.|
|1908||Argentière mine closed.|
Mines de l'Argentière (Argentiere Mines) are named after the beach where they are located, or the beach is named after the mines. Today the beach is well known, well visited, and the main feature of the small town La Londe-les-Maures. Actually, Argentière means silver, and there is the legend that during the Middle Ages silver was mined here, hence the name. There definitely was early mining as remains were found in the old gallery.
But the modern mining started with Victor Roux, a wealthy financier from Marseille, who rediscovered the deposit in 1875. He obtained the concession for lead, zinc, silver, copper, and antimony, and he began mining in 1885. Other veins were discovered and the concession extended to cover 2/3 of the area of La Londe and part of the neighbouring communes. At this time this mine was Europe's most productive zinc mine, located immediately at the beach. During its operation, 340,000 t of blende with a content of 50-60% zinc were extracted. The sophisticated mechanical preparation workshops at the beach processed up to 214 t of ore per day. The mining facilities, workshops, forges, laundries, derricks and stockyards, covered an area of almost 6,000 m². They covered the hill at the eastern end of the Plage de l'Argentière beach. At the sea were piers for loading the ore onto ships.
The mining village was owned by the Bormettes mining company, this included all the shops. In the shops the miners could find everything they needed, like food, clothing, and more. The drawback was, that those were company stores, the miners were paid half in real money, and half in mine currency minted by the company. This mine company money was accepted only in the company stores. In other words, miners were paid in coupons. It is a means of oppression that is now banned in most countries.
But the mining was short-lived, only about 20 years. When the mine closed in 1908, a subsidiary of the Schneider plant in Le Creusot was set up nearby, perpetuating industrial activity and employment. The village had a population of 879 people, during the heydays of the mine there were 3,200 inhabitants.
Today most of this is gone, some stone retaining walls, the administrative building, the miners' canteen, and the director's house are preserved. And there is a single mine passage which was made accessible with a length of 90 m. Tours are organized by the Office de Tourisme, but only available on reservation. There are also a series of educational plates at the beach which explain the history to people using the beach.