Updated on the 15th February 2016
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.
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.
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…
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.
Sea water is pumped through underground pipes up to the highest clay basins where it will sit for a certain amount of time.
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.
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.
The hydrometer to measure the density of the water and assess the salt concentration.
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.
In the lower basins where the density is very high, as the water evaporates, the basins are left with the final product: sea salt.
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.
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.
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.
Their artisan weaved baskets have been replaced by more modern plastic ones, with holes in it allowing for the water to drain down.
The salt is then taken to the storage buildings where it will be left to dry.
Once it is dry enough, it will be put into big jute or fabric bags.
It will then be sent to the factory where it will be turned into refined table salt.
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.
But not only! You may also find nice photographs of the salt ladies at work, well made souvenir hats and bags.
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!