The Salt Museum, preserving local knowledge

Salies-de-Béarn
The Salt Museum, pres ...

In the heart of Béarn and a few kilometers from the Basque Country , stands Salies-de-Béarn . If its thermal baths are famous, it is for the salt it produces that Salies is recognized. From salted Bayonne ham to Salies aux Salines salt, the city lives to the rhythm of this little white grain. To tell its story, the Museum of Salt and Béarn traditions has opened in the historic center.


Salt, the white gold of Salies-de-Béarn

Salt from Salies-de-Béarn has been present in the Pyrenees for millions of years. Protected in waters ten times saltier than seawater, it is obtained using an ancient method. Thanks to a simple evaporation of this groundwater in a salt pan, its taste remains authentic, 100% natural and rich in trace elements . Salies-de-Béarn claims this tradition which has been used for centuries. The waters produce coarse salt , fleur de sel and mother liquor , used in thermal waters as it is very rich in magnesium and trace elements. Operated by the town's thermal baths since 1855, these mother liquors provide well-being and appeasement. The fleur de sel takes pride of place on the tables of many households in the South-West. As for coarse salt, it is used in particular by salting professionals. Salt from Salies-de-Béarn is also recommended as part of the IGP Jambon de Bayonne !

The microbiological qualities of salt are constant. The reason ? Spring water is protected from pollution thanks to the thick clay layer that covers it. Another strong point of this salt, its halophilic bacteria, unique in the world, which give it its specific flavor and its naturally white color ...

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Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The organization of salt in Salies noted in registers

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The salt shaping workshop

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The different salts in the world

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

Salt rising to the surface


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An association that preserves the local heritage

The purpose of the Friends of Old Salies association is to protect the historical heritage of Salies-de-Béarn and its surroundings. As such, it created and manages the Museum of Salt and Béarn traditions. To carry out its mission, the association has therefore worked to open this beautiful museum in a historic house in the city, the Darremoundine house which dates from the 17th century. Initially, the museum only welcomed visitors on the ground floor before carrying out work and opening two other spaces on the first and second. A desire of the association which wanted to offer as much information as possible on what makes the reputation and heritage of their city . At the reception, a member of the Friends of Vieux Salies is always present. His passion is such that he enthusiastically transmits the history of the city and of salt. Throughout the year, the association also organizes numerous conferences and events.

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The tools for working with salt are highlighted

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The story of Salies is told



A small but fun and interesting museum!

The museum is not big. If it has three floors , which are relatively small. On the ground floor, you can discover an identical reproduction of a salt processing workshop . You could find it in the town houses of the time when salt water was still operated by hand-addictive (owners of the source). Another must to discover on site is the utopian model of the Cité du Sel . A real immersion in the 18th century Salies, it is brought to life thanks to a 3D visual projection that allows you to very well represent the city at the time. On the first floor, you will find the thermal bath cabin. This reproduction is a witness of the Salies de la Belle Epoque . It also allows you to discover the Moorish architect of the thermal baths.

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Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The utopian model of the city

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The first floor highlights the personalities who came to Salies

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The second floor where the history of salt is discussed

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

The different salts of the city

Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn

A tradition highlighted in an old house in the city


On the second floor, a space entirely devoted to the geological collections of Salies-de-Béarn and the surrounding area awaits you. One way to find out why and how the salt arrived in the city. Fun workshops for children (and even older ones) are also available on this floor. At the end of the visit, you can get Salies salt in all its forms.

The Museum of Salt and Béarn traditions is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of the city and to learn more about this white gold called salt!


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Article written by Anne Pinsolle for the Béarn Pyrénées Guide


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