For centuries, salt production brought wealth to Salins-les-Bains. Today, thermal baths offer courses of treatment for rheumatism and wellness cares based on the virtues of salt.
The first things travellers arriving in Salins-les-Bains notice are the two forts overlooking the valley where is nestled this little town of Franche-Comté. Named Fort Saint-André and Fort Belin, they were built in the 17th century by Vauban on the site of medieval castles, not for strategic reasons but to protect the two salt works that - from the 8th to the 19th centuries - brought wealth to the town and constituted for the masters of the region an enormous source of income.
[ Practical ]
- By road
400 km from Paris on autoroutes A6, A31, A36 and A39 till Dole, then on D905 and D472 till Salins-les-Bains.
- By train
TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Dole, then TER from Dole to Mouchard and bus from Mouchard to Salins-les-Bains. The journey takes between 3 hours and 3 hours 30 mn.
Grand Hôtel des Bains
Hôtel des Deux Forts
Hôtel Charles Sander
Hôtel des Deux Forts
Le Petit Blanc
La Table d’Euphrosyne
Open from mid February to December 30th, Monday to Saturday from 2.30pm to 6.30pm, Sunday from 10am to 11.45am and from 2pm to 5.30pm, bank holidays from 2pm to 5.30pm.
Admission : €12 / €6.
Cares from €14.50 to €90.
Mini-treatment courses from €370 to €430.
Treatment courses from Monday to Saturday from 6.45am to noon.
Ph : 0384730463
Grande Saline et Musée du Sel
Open every day. Closed on December 25th and from January 8th to 14th. Admission €7.50 / €4.
Ph : 0384731092
- Salins-les-Bains Tourist Office
Ph : 0384730134
- Jura Tourist Office
Ph : 0384870877
- Franche-Comté Tourist Office
Ph : 0381250808
More salty than the Dead Sea
But transport development and sea salt competition caused their closure because they were no longer economically viable. However, this white gold that still lies in the bowels of the Earth now makes the happiness of people suffering from rheumatism and also of spa lovers because the water gushing out the ground contains more mineral salts and trace elements (potassium, magnesium, calcium) than the Dead Sea. So, by osmosis it improves joint flexibility by draining excess water in the joints while trace elements have a sedative effect on the pain by acting on the nervous system.
Originally located in the town centre, on the site of the Petite Saline, closed in 1854, the thermal baths of Salins-les-Bains moved to a new location on the occasion of their modernization.
Brand new facilities
Re-opened in March 2017 and called ThermaSalina, they now occupy a bright building in a quiet location with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.
Reimbursed by the Social Security, courses of treatment against rheumatism are provided in the morning and last 18 days. The program comprises baths in thermal water at 36°C (hydrobaths and aerobaths), jet showers and underwater showers, sludge applications of mud obtained by mixing clay and thermal water, thermal steam and Berthollaix steam treatments for hands, wrists, feet, ankles and spine column, fitness pool and massages under salt water ramp.
From 2 pm, thermal baths are open to everybody, with free access for those following courses of treatment, and focus on wellbeing, with a spa area including a thermal swimming pool with jacuzzi, sauna, hammam and a relaxation area with panoramic view.
Wide choice of cares
Of course, there is also a wide choice of hydrotherapy, aesthetic and physiotherapy treatments. Hydrobaths, jet showers, mud applications and saltwater massages are also on the agenda as well as scrubs, wraps, facials and hands cares. These treatments are offered à la carte, one by one, or in the form of one, two or three half-days packages. There are also mini-courses of treatment lasting six afternoons to improve fitness, refine the silhouette and relieve back pain.
Classified as Unesco World Heritage in 2009, the Great Saline of Salins-les-Bains definitely ceased its activity in 1962 and its visit is a must. It helps to learn where this healing salt water comes from and how salt has been extracted from the bowels of the Earth for centuries.
Monumental underground galleries
The subsoil of the region being too loose, it was indeed impossible to dig a mine to reach it. On the other hand, as it rests on impermeable rocks, the rainwater reaching it then ascends to the surface laden with salt. This brine was then heated to collect the salt by evaporation. But the water taken from the springs contains only 40 grams per litre whereas the content can reach up to 330 grams at a depth of 250 metres. Men have therefore sought to recover water as deeply as possible. In the monumental underground galleries of the Grande Saline, tourists discover two wells where water was first drawn by water wheels and then by hydraulic pumps.
Pretty little town
Salins-les-Bains © T.Joly
Even more impressive is the gigantic 17 m by 4.20 m frying pan where 38 000 litres of brine weighing 47 tonnes were heated at 80°C for 12 hours at the end of which 4 tons of salt were recovered. Finally, the visit ends with a museum giving a lot of information on the history of salt production in Franche-Comté and about the techniques used to extract it from salted spring water.
The town itself is also worth a visit boasting remains of its walls, beautiful private mansions, manyfountains, a few churches including a gothic collegial and a 17th century chapel with an oval shape as well as a 17th century apothecary. In addition, the surroundings are crisscrossed by numerous hiking trails. If you like wine, the town of Arbois, the heart of the Jura vineyard, is only 8 km away and to get a great glimpse of the local production head to the Domaine Rollet.
October 24, 2017