A33 motorway, exit Saint-Nicolas-de-Port (number 4), towards Art-sur-Meurthe.
AMR to OCT Mon-Thu 9:30, 14.
Reservation required by phone.
Adults EUR 22, Children (13-18) EUR 15.
Lorraine menu: Per Person EUR 38.
Gastronomic menu: Per Person EUR 60.
|Incandescent Electric Light System
|D=3 h, Max=25, MinAge=13.
Mine de Sel Varangéville, 17 rue Gabriel Péri, 54110 Varangéville, Tel: +33-383-18-73-32.
Reservation, Tel: +33-383-18-73-32.
Salins du Midi and Salines Company East SA,, 17 Rue Gabriel Péri, 54110 Varangéville, Tel: +33-383-18-73-00.
|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.
|salt first extracted by Celts.
|salt mined by the Romans.
|salt discovered at Rosières-aux-Salines with a borehole.
|Varangéville mine opened.
|salt mined opened to the public.
|optional lunches added.
The salt was deposited 230 million years ago when the whole are was covered by a predecessor of the Mediterranen Sea. Unlike the Mediterranen of today it had no continuous access to the ocean and was located deep inside the continent. The rain water was not enough to prevent the sea from evaporating and the minerals which are dissolved in the sea water were deposited. Now and then tectonic movement caused a temporary inflow of seawater and the evaporation started over. The result was a thick layer of mostly salt, but also gypsum and limestone, which is layered in series or sequences. At the end the layer was 90 m thick.
The Mine de Sel Varangéville (Varangeville Salt Mine), also known as Saline Saint Nicolas, is a working salt mine. It is actually the last salt mine in France still in operation. The mine is a chance to see the last 40 salt miners of France at work. The salt is mined using explosives, huge blocks weighing several hundred kilos are detached, then conveyed using conveyor belts. They are crushed and screened, then stored in 4 storage chambers located 160 m below ground.
The mine is entered with the cage of the puits Saint Jean-Baptiste (St Jean Baptiste shaft). This shaft was dug in the 1870s and transports miners, machinery and salt in and out since then. The basic mining method used here is room and pillar, in other words, salt is mined in chambers which are small enough that the salt stays stable and does not collapse. The chambers are separated by unmined salt pillars which support the roof.
The salt mine is an operating mine, so you will enter through the gate which is used by the mine workers. The parking lots are also the parking lots of the employees, so there is a rather complicated rule where to park. Please check the homepage for a map, parking for visitors is different for the morning and afternoon tour. The morning tour ends at lunchtime, and there is an optional possibility to have lunch underground. It is served on period crockery and lit by candlelight. Vegetarian or vegan diets are possible. Tours are offered only for groups, as far as we understand, it is not possible to visit individually. Also, the tours are available only on working days, Monday to Thursday, to be exact.
There is also a shop on the premises where various salts produced by the mine are sold. The mine belongs to a group which also operates the Salins du Midi, which produces sea salt from the mediterranean in the Carmarque. They sell mined salt from Varangéville, also sea salt from the Carmarque, and even wine which is grown on the sand surrounding the sea salt pools. The wine is quite unique, as it grows in a rather salty environment. The wine is sold as Cuvée St Louis.