The salt business started in Salin-de-Giraud in 1856 to produce caustic soda which is required to refine bauxite which in turn is used in the production of aluminium. It was the founder of Pechiney (now owned by the Montreal based aluminium giant Alcan) that started the salt production in the Camargue.
You can visit Salins, a company producing salt for both industrial applications as well as human consumption. Even if the tour is truly industrial, it is none the less quite impressive. The meeting point is at the Salins shop in Salin-de-Giraud where you buy your ticket for the visit. In addition to selling gros sel (corse salt) and fleur de sel (the top layer of salt which is harvested by hand) the shop is the local of a mini museum of the local salt trade. You will be taken on one of those little trains (on wheels and with a diesel engine) for a drive through the salt marshes. The high concentration of salt is favourable to a sea weed which proliferates in such saline conditions. As a result the weed turns the water a reddish colour and the flamingos which feed on the weeds retain their lovely pink hue. The little train will take you to the monumental salt dunes which are very dramatic. The picture above doesn’t fully capture the magnitude of these salt reserves.
You can visit the salt works at 3 different locations so have a look at their website. www.salins.com to see opening hours, costs and departure times.