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In the heart of salt pan marshes, Saillé is a salt pan worker's village which used to be a salt capital and remained so for a very long time.
Located at the centre of the village La Maison des Paludiers (The Salt Pan Workers House) is one of the touristic hightlights of the Guerande peninsula for over thirty years.
In " La Maison des Paludiers " professionnal guides will answer all technical questions and requeries visitors may have concerning salt pan work. Visitors can obtain a wide variety of informations on the working of Guerande salt pans, ranging from how to get a salt pan operational to how to use a specific tool at harvest time.
Visitors are offered two options :
- visiting " La Maison des Paludiers "
- touring an actual salt pan
A tour of " La Maison des Paludiers "
Salt is always a natural product but, owing to the salt pan worker's harvesting techniques, the salt harvested in Guerande is one of the best in the world both for quality and taste.
Visitors walk first through a traditionnal salt barn, a " salorge " to reach the first showroom. This showroom feathures a video cyclorama which explains the salt pan worker's mediation work between the ocean, the wind, the sun and the earth. This room deals more specifically with the natural process, both physical and chemical, of salt cristallisation in the salt pan marshes. Projection on a 8-metres wide screen with spa 5.1 sound are available in English, German and Spanish.
The second showroom feathures a model salt marsh which enables visitors to understand the working of one of the most ancient human-made agro-system established for feeding purposes. The model enables the guides to trace the progression of sea water through the marshes. Visitors are also shown the various tools used for harvesting salt.
All visitor's questions, whether technical, social or historical, are welcome and discussed.
Next, in the video room, the importance of salt throughout the ages is explained to visitors who are also shown the various and numerous tasks which avait the salt per workers throughout the year. A wide screen video unveils all the secret of Guerande's salt.
Salt pan workers work their pans all year log so as to maintain the fragile and balanced nature whos fruit is harvested in the summer.
Sea water enters the whole network of Guerande's marsches through canals called " étier ". When the year's highest tides occur, a system of trap doors and hafts along the canals enable the water to get into the first pool called a " vasière ".
LA VASIERE :
The " vasière " is a pool which has to be large enough to keep the necessary amount of water needed between two high tides. The " vasière " has to feed one or several pans.
LE COBIER :
The water leaves the " vasière " and enters either directly in the " saline ", or in a " cobier ". A device, the " comminladure " permits the adjustements of water according to the whims of the climat. This water proceeds on the exploitation using a very gentle slope (1/5000th). Ils current is slowed down and this way is lenghtened by small clay levees, the " ponts ".
LA SALINE :
It feathures three different compartments " fares ", located along the embankments vary both in shape and surface. Their water flows into the daily pools called the " adernes ", the flow is regulated by a special fitted system.
Then, the weter goes into the cristallisation pads called the " oeillets " have a rectangular shape (approximately 7 metres wide and 10 metres long).
On a good harvest day, a salt pan worker first harvestes about 2 kilos of " fleur de sel " (" salt flower ") with a tool called a " lousse ". Another tool called a " las " enable the workers to create little waves so as to gather and then harvest 50 kilos of salt. This salt is piled up on a " ladure " where it sits overnight in order to drain.
The next day the drained salt is shovelled into a wheelbarrow and taken up to the big salt pile called the " trémet " which overlooks the pan. At the end of the summer the salt is stocked indoors in " salorges ".
While travelling throughout the various parts on the pan, the salt is slowly purified as it leaves some of its carbonates and calcium sulfate on the pan's clay botton. The final product is therefore perfectly clean and pure.
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