Closed for three weeks following the Christmas holidays.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009, the Grande Saline de Salins-les-Bains is an ancient salt production site, unique in Europe.
Here, for 1,200 years, men have exploited the naturally salty waters gushing up from the subsoil to extract the precious white gold. It was thanks to the Grande Saline that the town of Salins-les-Bains prospered, becoming one of the most powerful cities in medieval Franche-Comté.
Accompanied by a guide, you will first descend into the very heart of history, into the two brine extraction shafts protected by majestic vaults. This monumental gallery, built in the 13th century like a cathedral, is 165 metres long and 10 metres high in the very heart of the town. Today, it still houses a pumping system powered by a bucket wheel and a large 19th-century balance wheel, which is still in operation and pumps up brine containing 330 grams of salt per litre (saltier than the Dead Sea!). The tour continues in the evaporation building, where you can get a feel for the working atmosphere of the salt workers. Everything here is preserved and authentic: the tools, the salt trolleys, the gnawed woodwork and the last salt pan in France, a moving reminder of the salt industry's working memory.
Closed in 1962 due to a lack of modernisation and too much competition from sea salt, the Grande Saline still retains all its production tools, giving visitors a better understanding of salt production in Franche-Comté. A veritable industrial and architectural treasure trove, the Grande Saline is a living site to be discovered with the heart. It's a story that our guides will bring to life for you every day with passion.
Access to the gallery is via a 53-step staircase and the underground temperature is around 12°C.
Duration of the guided tour (compulsory to discover the underground section): 1 hour.
At the end of the guided tour, you will have free access to the old salt storehouses, which house a museum explaining the history of salt production in Franche-Comté and the thermal spa.
The "White Gold Rush" is a guided tour for children aged 7 to 12, followed by a workshop demonstrating the evaporation of salt water. It takes place during the school holidays (all zones combined) on Wednesdays at 3.45pm. Departure guaranteed for 2 or more children aged between 7 and 12. Duration: between 1h15 and 1h30.
The Grande Saline is open every day (except 25 December, 1 January and from 8 to 28 January 2024).
Opening times and guided tours on
Groups (+20 people) welcome all year round, by reservation at least 6 weeks in advance.