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The Great Saltworks

The Great Saltworks

Roue hydraulique


 The Great Saltowrks of Salins-les-Bains - as well as the other saltworks in  Franche-Comté - used saline water as raw materiel. Salt, or the so-called  "White Gold", was obtained through an artificial evaporation process. In  comparison, the water from the salt marshes evaporates naturally with the  sun and the wind.

 "Salins-du-Jura" owns its reputation and its power from the Middle Ages on,  as it used the salt the city exploited in order to trade. Varied techniques have  succeeded one another in order to draw - and later on to pump - the brine.  For several centuries, wood was used as fuel in order to achieve the  evaporation process. However, due to an economic problem, it was  replaced by coal at the beginning of the 19th century. 

 In 1775, the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans were erected by the  visionary architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux, on the edge of the Chaux Forest  (3rd largest hardwood forest in France). The Saltworks of Arc-et-  Senans worked as complementary to the saltworks of Salins-les-Bains.

 Both of the Saltworks were linked together by a double-pipe system (first  wooden pipes and later on replaced by cast iron pipes) that were 21  kilometers long through which the brine would be sent from Salins-les-Bains  to Arc-et-Senans.

 The Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans closed in 1895. 

 In 1962, the Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains closed too, due to a lack of space, an evolution of techniques to make salt, and an evolution of the mode of food preservation, mainly the invention of refrigerators and freezers. 

Since 1966, the Saltworks became the property of Salins-les-Bains's municipality.

The resurgence of natural salt sources at the bottom of the valley is of geological origins : appriximately 240 meters deep underground, there is a 40 meters thick layer of rock salt against which infiltrations - due to the rain - wash off the vein of rock salt and then flow out at the surface, becoming natural salt water.


 Awards and Accolades.

The Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains played a crucial part in the history of the city and its region. This major site of industrial heritage in Franche-Comté also benefits from several national and international recognition. The Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains was registered on the 27th of June, 2009, on the Unesco world heritage list, in extension to the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans (registered in 1982).

Both of these Saltworks are historically linked. Indeed, the brine was sent from Salins-les-Bains to Arc-et-Senans via a 21 kilometer two-tube pipeline made of wood or cast iron. For more information : You can also access the webpage of both saltworks by clicking on the Unesco website here : The selection criteria are listed. Since the 8th of December, 2009, and to ensure consistency, all the sites belonging to the Saltworks of Salins have been listed as Historical Monument.