Musée de la mine de Champagnac

Useful Information

Location: 4 Rte de Veyrières, 15350 Champagnac.
(45.355449, 2.399795)
Open: JUL to AUG daily 14-17:30.
Fee: Adults EUR 4, Children (7-15) EUR 2, Children (0-6) free.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 3.
Classification: MineCoal Mine SubterraneaMining Museum
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided. V=700/a [2019]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Musée de la mine de Champagnac, 4 Rte de Veyrières, 15350 Champagnac, Tel: +33-471-69-61-55. 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.
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1836 beginning of coal mining.
1841 the Royal Ordinance institutes the concessions of the coal mines.
1868 Société Anonyme des Houillères de Champagnac founded.
1882 chipboard factory and wash house built.
1882 Eygurande-Largnac railway line opened.
1902 mine accident, 8 dead in an explosion.
1946 nationalization and attachment to the coal mines of the Bassin d'Auvergne.
1948 beginning of staff reductions.
1959 last mine closed.
1991 museum inaugurated.



Musée de la mine de Champagnac (Champagnac Mine Museum) is located in the village Champagnac west of Ydes. It is dedicated to the collieries of the Champagnac-Ydes coalfield, which was mined for more than a century. The exhibition shows numerous documents, old photographs, archives, plans and sketches. There are also models of mines and machinery, for example, the headframe of the mine. Mining tools are on display and there are videos of interviews with miners. A new exhibition was added in 2023, on the social movements during the long history of this mine. These are, for example, the strike of 1895, and other local and national strikes led by miners.

The coal was known since at least the 16th century, and local blacksmiths used coal which they picked up on the surface. The first shafts were sunk in the mid-18th century, but they were small, artisanal, and not very productive. The first royal concession was granted to the Mignot family in 1836, and they established coal mining on a lasting basis. During the following years, several other concessions were granted. Even more important was the concession of Prodelles, which was granted to Louis-Alexandre Baigneres in 1841. He was a Parisian industrialist with a strong financial background and an important network of contacts.

Despite all the mines and concessions, the coal mining was restricted by the transportation infrastructure. Like always the railway changed things, when the line from Bourges to Miécaze was opened in 1882 with a stop at Ydes. This was of great importance, not only for the mines but also for the west of the country, where no coal mines existed and coal was imported from England. The mines boomed, the number of miners increased rapidly, also the production. The mine had 155 workers before the railroad, in the next 20 years it increased to more than 1,000. A wash house, a sinter plant and a coke oven were built. The mine boomed for some decades. Only the attempt to make steel in a furnace failed, as there was no iron mine in the area and the transport of iron ore was unprofitable. It was much cheaper to bring the coke to the ore, than to bring the ore to the coke.

The decline came rather fast soon after World War II. First the mine was nationalized in 1946, then a decline in coal consumption caused first staff reductions. The seams of the Champagnac basin are irregular, which limits the large-scale exploitation. As a result, the modernization lagged behind other mines in the country, especially those of the North and Lorraine. So the mines became unprofitable, in 1955 there was a deficit of 100 Million Francs, in 1958 it had increased to 250 Million Francs. In 1959 the mine was finally closed.

Coal mines are in general not very stable and often below the groundwater level. So the mines were soon flooded, and most of them collapsed or were filled in. So there is no underground section still accessible. Most mine buildings including the headframes were demolished, and today only very few mine buildings remain, mostly transformed into something else. Among the exceptions are the former building of the Madeleine shaft extraction machine and the former coke ovens. The latter was converted into a mining memorial.

The mining museum is not the result of mining remains, which were opened to the public. It was an exhibition organized at the town hall of Champagnac in 1988. This was very popular, and many locals donated money and mining equipment for the exhibition. Soon the room in the town hall was too small, and a barn was renovated to house the exhibition. So while documents, photographs and even tools and machinery are original, the museum is not located in mine buildings, and the short mine tunnel as well as the headframe, are models or fakes.