Updated: Jan 16
We discovered the origin of the Sel des Alpes! On this journey of discovery we saw the most spectacular and the most characteristic elements of the various excavation techniques used from when the first gallery was dug out in 1684, right up to modern times.
We had been trying to find a good weekend to visit the Salt Mines in Bex for a few months and finally we had some free time last weekend so we organised our tickets online and booked ourselves on the 10.30 visit on Sunday.
There was quite a lot of snow up there so we were happy to see the car park was close to the entrance. We had read that the temperature was a constant 18 degrees so we left our more bulky winter clothes in the car and waited for the visit to start.
Right on time, the guide arrived and led us to the start of the 2 hour tour in the mine. Our tour was in French but you can get audio guides in other languages.
We began in a large open auditorium space where we watched a short film which explained a bit about the history of the mine and the development over time to the current day. Following that we walked through an impressive cavern to the train. The tunnels leading there are narrow and quite low in places so we were glad we put Elio in our small front carrier.
Jude was really excited to ride on the « mini train » and we chose to sit on the outside seats to enjoy the full experience. Alba LOVED it and was giggling most of the 1.6km of journey. It was quite breezy in the tunnel so we were glad of our jackets but it was a really enjoyable experience as we zipped through the tunnels.
For the next part of the tour, we were on foot and I must admit I had some difficulty hearing a lot of what our guide said because Elio was overcome by a very loud and inexplicable fit of giggles which lasted for at least 15 minutes of the visit (apologies to the other people on the tour) but Jean recapped for me that the guide had explained in more detail about how the mine was excavated and the salt (which is actually in the rocks) is extracted as well as describing some of the incredible infrastructure of the mine.
At that point we switched the carrier and Elio to Jean so that I could hear a bit and we passed to a large open area where the children took turns to ride on a small mining trolley which was lots of fun. We saw lots of amazing artefacts and were all awed at the way that mines operated in years gone by and the fact that so much of it was chiseled by hand. The children were then invited to try the tools themselves and Jude and Alba set about chipping away at the walls with gusto.
After that we began with journey back, stopping on the way to see where the salt is extracted and packaged which was very interesting. The final part of the visit was a tasting where we could try various products made with salt from the mines. Back in the gift shop, we bought a nice selection of salts ourselves and put them to use as soon as we got home by making some fudge sprinkled with sea salt.
It’s a good year-round destination and well worth a visit as it’s mostly covered and constant temperature. Worth mentioning that obviously the floor of the mine is quite dusty so don’t wear your best clothes and shoes 😊
Parking : Yes
Toilets : Yes
Baby Change Facilities : Not that we saw
Accessibility : Not suitable for pushchairs - Front baby-carrier advised
Extra : Boutique & Restaurant for private hire