Bissieux-la-Combe, 42800 Saint-Joseph.
The hamlet Bissieux is north of Saint-Joseph. Turn right on Rte de la Mine d'Or to La Combe. 200 m/5 minutes walk.
Only on special open days or after reservation.
Heritage Days in mid-SEP, Sat, Sun 10-12, 14:30-17:30.
|Classification:||Antimony Mine Gold Mine|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||D=20 min, Max=10, MinAge=6.|
|Address:||Ancienne Mine d'Or et d'Antimoine, 8 route du bois des Alouettes, Montbressieux, Tel: +33-676-67-36-13. 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.
|1599||gold discovered and mine opened.|
|17-DEC-1600||a cup made from local gold given to Marie de Medici on the occasion of her marriage to Henri IV in Lyon|
|1630||mine closed, vein mined out.|
During the late-Hercynian, Carboniferous to Lower Triassic, the tectonic movements due to this orogeny caused the formation of countless cracks throughout the Massif Central, the Armorican Massif, and the Vosges. Hydrothermal fluids loaded with dissolved substances circulated, mainly silica, barite, calcium fluoride, and more. This filled the cracks with minerals, but also with ores, mostly sulfides, like pyrite, galena, blende, or sphalerite. In the Massiac region, there are hundreds of vein systems with siliceous or barite gangue containing sulphides, mainly sulphides of antimony. The main ores of the mines in this region are stibnite, an antimony sulphide (Sb2S3), and semseyite (Pb9Sb8S21).
Ancienne Mine d'Or et d'Antimoine (Ancient Gold and Antimony Mines) are actually two different mines located in two forested valleys east of the hamlet Bissieux. That's why they are also called Mines de Bissieux. We also read the name Mines de Boissieux, but have no explanation, probably just a misspelling. They are reached on a short trail from La Combe, which is a farm at the end of the road. Follow the gravel road for 100 m, then turn right on a walking trail which leads down into the valley. As the mines are not open regularly, there are no signs.
The site is managed by a local non-profit association, in France they are called association Loi 1901. They study, restore, preserve and promote the Bissieux gold mine. They also offer guided tours after reservation and open the mine on several days throughout the year. As far as we know, the open on the European Archaeology Days in June, and the European Heritage Days in September. On these days, there are temporary signs and a parking lot on a field near Bissieux. Bring gum boots, the mine often has standing water, depending on the weather. If you have, also bring a helmet with headlamp, otherwise they are provided. Their website is unfortunately defunct, it seems they are replacing it by a facebook page.
The mines were operated during the Middle Ages. According to legend, a peasant found a small pebble in his field at a place called "La Grangeasse" around 1599. The rock contained ore and was studded with gold. Another legend tells, that a cup made from local gold was given to Marie de Medici on the occasion of her marriage to Henri IV in Lyon on 17-DEC-1600. But the deposit was small, and after only 30 years the deposit was completely mined out. The second mining phase was in the 19th century and concentrated on the antimony deposit in the neigbouring valley. This was obviously a different gangue with different content.