La Route du Sel

Updated on the 15th February 2016

closed

Sorry! La Route du sel is now a closed attraction and cannot be visited anymore.

 

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Discover the still artisan process by which salt is obtained at ‘La Route du Sel’ in Tamarin.

 

La Route du Sel
La Route du Sel

 

Difficult to miss, surrounded by all the glittering salt pans, the rock buildings of ‘La Route du Sel’ on the coastal road of Tamarin is where your guide will give you a warm welcome upon your arrival.

 

La Route du Sel
The reception building marks the beginning and the end of your visit.

 

La Route du Sel
Rock buildings where the salt is kept.

 

For obvious reasons, it is best to choose a bright and sunny day for your visit as most (nearly all…) of it is done outside.

During one of our visit, the weather was not that bright which led us having to hide under an umbrella for most of it! Definitely not the greatest…

 

La Route du Sel
Visiting ‘La Route du Sel’ in rainy weather… not to be recommended!

 

You may choose to wander around on your own or to pay for a guided visit. The visit is not that expensive and I recommend taking a guide as, even though is is well documented with signs and posters, the guide will offer a lot more information and will be able to answer any of your questions.

The visit starts not very far from the entrance at a big poster on the side of a building explaining the whole process. Our guide gave us a quick explanation and then we started our walk through the salt pans where she explained it in more details for us.

 

La Route du Sel
The whole process explained on a poster.

 

Sea water is pumped through underground pipes up to the highest clay basins where it will sit for a certain amount of time.

 

La Route du Sel
In some places the pipes through which sea water is pumped can be seen.

 

Then slowly, communicating valves will be opened to let the water flow into adjacent basins as the salt density gets more important from the higher clay basins until it reaches the lower rock basins. The whole process takes about three days if I remember correctly.

 

La Route du Sel
The higher clay basins where the process starts.

 

 

La Route du Sel
The rock basins where the salt is nearly ready for collection.

 

Our guide explained the process in great details and the different apparatus used during that process to make decisions about the water flow.

The rain gauge measuring the amount of rain over a set period of time.

 

La Route du Sel
The rain gauge

 

The hydrometer to measure the density of the water and assess the salt concentration.

 

La Route du Sel
The hydrometer

 

The valves regulate the flow of water. By opening and closing or partially obstructing the valves, the volume of water flowing from one basin to the other can be controlled.

 

La Route du Sel
These wooden blocks are opened when necessary to let the water flow from one basin to the next.

 

La Route du Sel
Through these valves the amount of water coming in the basins are controlled.

 

In the lower basins where the density is very high, as the water evaporates, the basins are left with the final product: sea salt.

 

La Route du Sel
Sea salt ready for collection.

 

The ‘fleur de sel’ is obtained on the water surface of the basins, before complete evaporation, whereas the sea salt is collected from the bottom of the basins.

 

La Route du Sel
Comparing the rough sea salt on the left to the ‘Fleur de Sel’ on the right.

 

The whole process, from the pumping of the sea water to the collection of salt takes about three days. Should there be any rain during that process, all is to be scratched and started again.

 

La Route du Sel
Working ladies clearing out the basins after too much rain, so that the process can be started again.

 

In summer, during the heavy rain period, time is usually devoted to repairs and the cleaning of the basins.

If your visit is early enough, you will have the opportunity to see the hard working ladies at work collecting the salt.

 

La Route du Sel
Salt ladies hard at work.

 

Their artisan weaved baskets have been replaced by more modern plastic ones, with holes in it allowing for the water to drain down.

 

La Route du Sel
Plastic baskets where the salt is collected.

 

La Route du Sel
These salt buckets will soon be transported to the storage area.

 

The salt is then taken to the storage buildings where it will be left to dry.

 

La Route du Sel
Stocked salt left to dry

 

La Route du Sel
The apparatus used to collect the ‘Fleur de Sel’.

 

Once it is dry enough, it will be put into big jute or fabric bags.

 

La Route du Sel
The salt is put into bags to be transported to the factory.

 

It will then be sent to the factory where it will be turned into refined table salt.

 

La Route du Sel
The refining factory

 

This visit is a fun one for children. They quite like wandering around the salt pans and are curious to discover how salt is made, even though I believe it could be a little more interactive and hand’s on for them.

At the end of the visit, you can of course linger a little in the souvenir shop where very nice products are displayed: flavored salt for various purposes and Fleur de sel of course.

 

La Route du Sel
Different flavored salts for all types of food.

 

But not only! You may also find nice photographs of the salt ladies at work, well made souvenir hats and bags.

 

La Route du Sel
You can find beautiful photos of the salt pans and the people hard at work, at the shop.

 

La Route du Sel
Hats are also for sale at the shop.

 

In December, don’t forget to look out for Salty Santa at the top of the storage building as he has now become a feature of the area, for the greatest delight of children!

 

La Route du Sel
We all look forward to ‘Salty Santa’ during the month of December!

 

 

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