Gacox the Mag would like to emphasize that this article was entirely written by Madame Beatrice Harielle , Director of Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn. Her works and her works are honorable, we would like to thank and congratulate this great lady for her article. As well as to the Director of the Casino de Salies-de-Béarn Marion FOLLIN, for their communication between Gacox the Mag and the Salt Museum.
The Great History of the Salt Museum of Salies-de-Béarn
The first human occupations of the territory of Salies-de-Béarn date back to prehistoric times, in connection with the sources of salt water, attested by the numerous recent archaeological discoveries. But the charm of this small town is revealed with the bend of walks in the city itself and proposes a journey in time to each curious one.
Béarnaise since 1194, the community of neighbors (bezii in Béarnais) settled in the heart of a quagmire, a wetland fed by a freshwater river (the Saleys) and where the source of salt water from the Bayaà is located.
The originality of Salies: the city grants the right to draw salt water from the Bayaà spring, to each neighbor who transforms this brine into salt for daily salting. The houses of the city enclosed in the enclosure make their own salt.
He is also a legend… A wild boar, wounded by the hunters of the court of Gaston Febus comes to die near the salt source of Bayaà. Covered with salt crystals, this wild boar would have said: “ If you nou y eri dies, arès there bibéré (If I hadn’t died there, no one would live there). The first houses would have been built following this discovery. The wild boar fountain , place du Bayaà symbolizes this legend.
The city then becomes the 5th most important borough of the Vicomté De Béarn. Salies expands allowing or refusing the installation of newcomers. In 1587, a regulation is written in the Black Book, municipal work of this period. This regulation of the salt fountain specifies, in great detail, who has the right to have salt water. They will henceforth be called part-participants (men respecting the birthright but also cadets, females, married or widows all neighbors). This regulation also notes the quantity distributed: the account of sauce . Each male stakeholder will receive a full account, ie 26 samples each time the basin is emptied. Females (females) will only receive half a count or 13 sameaux. And this, several times a year. For better monitoring, distributions are monitored by sworn personnel and recorded in works still visible at the Salt Museum.
A SALIES-DE-B EARN, THE BOARS SPEAK THE BÉARNAIS!
It is said that in the Middle Ages a wild boar wounded by hunters had the good idea to take refuge in a muddy swamp. He is found dead but covered with salt crystals. It is at this moment that we realize that in the Salisian subsoil flows a source of salt water. Before dying, this boar would have had these last words: “If I had not died there, no one would live there”. Above all, once in the Place du Bayaà, be sure to come and say hello!
The city is gradually changing: each stakeholder house declares that it owns a flowed, in the street and its own duli, salt water tank built into the ground. Around the city, these structures are still visible.
The tiradous (bearers of sameaux) empty the basin of the Bayaà spring over long days, thus bringing salt water from each part-taking into the houses.
Then comes the manufacture of salt. If all the workshops were unfortunately destroyed in the middle of the 19th century, there is still a reconstruction of a shaping workshop in the Salt museum .
The salt thus produced will be used for all kinds of cured meats, but more particularly for the hams, sold in Bayonne. After many adventures, cheating and quarrels, the participants and their corporation will experience a hard blow.
The salt law of 1840 prohibited participants from making their own salt since each workshop (each house of participants) had to manufacture 500 tonnes of salt per year. The first saline was built in 1842 at the exit of the city, on the site of the current Functional Re-education Center. Protected by a walkway and a wooden enclosure, the saltworks will suffer a fire, destroying the building which will be rebuilt a few meters from the station.
The current saline, renovated and modernized in the 2000s, still produces the salt needed for curing Bayonne ham.
But the hard blow of the salt law will still be beneficial since from 1800, water analyzes officially show the therapeutic potential of salt water from the Bayaà. A few wooden baths installed in the first saltworks, we quickly decided to build the first bathhouse next to the factory. Destroyed by flames in 1888, a new spa with a facade of red brick and white stone was born, very fashionable at the time.
The salt water of Salies is of great importance. She is personified in the guise of Mude, the work of sculptor Jean-Lucien Tisné (1914). “Ah mude praube!” Toustem tounude ”. Ah poor mude, still mowed (poem by Al Cartero).
This woman, allegory of the queen of the salt water, was originally in a basin accompanied by a woman, an old Salisian, presenting her with a sick child. By her powers, the Mude heals the child but with her finger on her mouth, she expresses this double message: she remains the guarantor of all the malicious secrets of the Salisians.
She stays there mude , the mute.
This great wave of work is also beginning to transform the old Béarn village into a warm, lively city in Parisian fashion. Large fortunes are investing in the future spa. Huge streets are laid out: the boulevards of Saint Guily and Paris.
The hotels of the Castle (1882), of the Peace (1883), the Hameau Bellevue (1883), the Hôtel de France et d’Angleterre (1885), the Parc (1893), La Maison Larrouy, the Hôtel de Paris , the Pavillon Medicis welcome a wealthy clientele, very often foreign (Spanish, Russian and English aristocracy) or of great renown: Marcel Proust, child accompanied by his mother, the writer Hector Malot, the poet Tristan Derème, prominent politicians, the actor Maurice Escande of the Comédie Française.
Homestay rentals satisfy more modest curists from March to October. This financial windfall forces some families to move out of the family home during the rental period. In 1884, the Compagnie des chemin de Fer du Midi served the main lines from Paris to Toulouse via Salies, thus draining thousands of bathers, their families and their servants.
This Belle Epoque of Salisien hydrotherapy has resulted in many changes in the small village of Béarn. Dirty is considered “dirty”, the animals are in the streets, the manures are kept widely sprinkled with salt water: the best fertilizer! It is therefore necessary to clean it up and ensure it a better reputation, which has been touted in the Figaro press articles and other popular advertising media.
The Bayaà spring basin is covered to protect it from rubbish (1867). Since that day, the basin has been called the crypt of the Bayaà.
The Trotecaà mill in the heart of the city was destroyed by fire in 1887, its canal was filled in 1892 to install the collector sewer. The galleys, small alleys between the houses are gradually condemned.
Open to novelties, the city is electrified, the telegram quickly and quickly takes the habits of large cities. During the season, concerts and any other spectacle punctuate the life of the colony. We demanded an orchestra and a veritable bandstand was built in 1887. We want games, and a circle café and then a real casino is built.
Salies-de-Béarn is finally reborn from its ashes and only the divisions of the parishes of Saint Martin and Saint Vincent perpetuate the memory of the old medieval village. The church of Saint Martin sits on the side of the Sugar Loaf and the fortified church of Saint Vincent hangs on the edge of the Saleys.
Protestant worship still survives and the city has a veritable temple, the work of Xavier de Saint-Guily, architect of the Hôtel du Parc.
The heavy competition from the seaside resort of Biarritz will get the better of so many investments. To this is added the conflict of the First World War, and Salies loses this wealthy clientele of the French and foreign aristocracy and bourgeoisie. This is the end of this beautiful period of hydrotherapy …