Pont Baudin, Nancroix, 73210 Peisey-Vallandry.
Mid-JUL to Mid-AUG Tue-Thu 14:30.
Les Petits Mineurs: Mid-JUL to Mid-AUG Thu 9.
Adults EUR 10.50, Children (8-13) EUR 6.50, Children (0-7) free.
Les Petits Mineurs: Children (8-13) EUR 19, Children (0-7) free.
|Lead Mine Silver Mine
|Incandescent Electric Light System
Les Petits Mineurs: D=3 h.
|Association "Le Palais de la Mine", Pont Baudin, Nancroix, 73210 Peisey-Vallandry, Tel: +33-614-94-49-76.
|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.
|galena ore discovered, begin of mining.
|foundry built by the Compagnie anglaise (English Company) with two reverberatory ovens.
|Compagnie Savoyarde builds four semi-blast furnaces and an adit to drain the mine.
|annexed foundry for processing litharge built.
|whole mine infrastructure modernized by Schreiber.
|end of mining.
|Ecole Française des Mines based in Peisey and trained 70 engineers in this time.
|declared a Historical Monument.
The Palais de la Mine (Mine Palace) is a massive building in the municipality of Peisey, which was called Les Monts d'Argent during the French Revolution, reflecting the importance of its lead and silver mines. The site is freely accessible, a meadow at the far end of the valley with a massive building. And there is a mining trail which leads to numerous abandoned mines and other mining-related sites. There are educational signs in French and English, so you can freely visit the sites without any restriction. However, to enter the silver mine, a guided tour is required, which is available only during the French Summer Holidays in July and August. It shows and explains the remains of the industrial installations, the mine gallery, extraction techniques and ore processing. They also offer a special programme for Children called Les Petits Mineurs which gives an introduction to geology, discovery of rocks, from ore to metal. The tours are further offered on request by the Mine Palace Association from May to November. During Winter, they are not possible due to snow.
Between 1802 and 1814, the Ecole Française des Mines was based in Peisey and trained 70 engineers in this time. Then it was transferred to Paris and renamed the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines. The Palais de la mine, which gave the site its name, is the former school. It was built between 1761 and 1797, but completely redesigned in 1803-1804 by Schreiber for the needs of the school. Another site on the trail is the tomb of the knight Rosenberg.
According to local lore the Romans were the first to exploit the silver-lead ores in La Plagne, located in the valley of the Isère. There is no archaeological evidence though, although some wooden supports were dated between 250 and 550. This means late Roman Empire and early Middle Ages. From 1903 the mine was operated by the Count of Saint Pierre with a yearly production of 533 tons of lead each year and 1.8 tons of silver. In 1935, the mine employed 180 workers. In the sixties the production decreased and the mine closed in 1970.
The mines of Peisey are located in a higher side valley, a tributary of the Isère. The veins of argentiferous lead were discovered in 1644. Exploitation started in the early 18th century by private individuals, then by various captains of industry, first an English company, later a Sardinian company. The mines are lead-silver mines, so they were not only of industrial importance, the high content of silver was important for minting silver coins. The mining happened mostly in the St-Victor gallery, then the ore was washed and smelted.
French revolutionary troops invaded Savoy in 1792 and confiscated the Peisey mine, which was renamed Mont d'Argent, as state property. The mining school was created by decree, the developement was taken over by the engineer Schreiber, who managed the mines and relaunched the mining operation. The mine was very profitable and financed the school. After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, France lost Savoy and the mines of Peisey, and the school was transferred to Paris for this reason. From 1822 to 1836 the Sardinian government ran the operation, some 270 people worked at the mines and the related surface operations to process the ore. Litharge (molten lead oxide) was sold in Lyon, and silver was refined on site and sold in ingots in Lyon, Paris and Turin. But soon the wood was gone, and the shortage caused the transport of the ore to the foundry of Conflans. The beginning Industrial Revolution brought more investment but also more competition. The time was very productive, typically 190 tons of lead, with peaks of around 250 tons, and 370 kg of silver with peaks at around 500 kg per year. Nevertheless, the mine was closed in 1866 in deficit.