About Sel des Alpes salt mines
Available: all year.
Swiss Travel Pass: FREE
Lake Geneva Regional Pass and Villars Free Access Card: FREE to Bex, then 5 Sfr
Half Fare Card: 15 Sfr from Villars
Entrance payable locally: 23 Sfr per adult and 14 Sfr 5-15 years. Discounts available when pre-booked online.
A unique attraction in Switzerland! According to the legend, 500 years ago a flock of goats led the people of Bex to the Sel des Alpes via a salty spring. Ever since, the precious 'white gold' has been mined from the area. Today this is the last active salt mine in Switzerland and it produces a variety of pure salt products which are enjoyed around the world.
On a visit to the museum and the mine, visitors learn about the various techniques of salt mining from the year 1684 to the present. A small mine train takes you into the amazing subterranean world and to the restaurant located in the mountain at a depth of 400 metres. The mines can be explored further on foot. Unusual adventure tours offer treks into the mines and the tunnels that date from the 17th century.
A visit to the mines
Between 200 and 60 million years ago, the Rhône Valley was a shallow sea; the salt deposits of in the mines at Bex are derived from the salt of this ancient sea. A 50km labyrinth of passages and tunnels still yields 30,000 tons of salt per year.
Several areas of this vast underground labyrinth are now open to the public. The first stage of the tour is an audiovisual presentation which takes place in an ancient reservoir dug out in 1826. There's also an exhibit recalling three centuries of the story of the salt mines. You'll then take a ride on a miners’ train and finally a walking circuit of about an hour. You'll discover the incredible effort put in the underground search for salt springs and the desalination techniques used from 1684 to the present day.
During the high season you can enjoy snacks and light refreshments in the heart of the salt mines, at the Tavern du Dessaloir.
If you prefer to picnic, there is a pleasant area situated next to the reception building and at the edge of the forest.
Auberge du Bouillet
If you would like a larger meal, why not visit the Auberge du Bouillet down the road from the salt mines and try some of its delicious specialities. The dining room opens out onto a heated veranda and can accommodate guests on its sun terrace in summer.
Special events at the mines
Special events take place at the mines from time to time.
Past events have included a photo exhibition of alpine flowers and a series of brunches.
Sainte Barbe is the Fête des Mineurs (Miner’s Day). It takes place every year on the first Saturday in December and must be pre-booked. Discover old galleries not included on the regular tours; a traditional raclette meal is included in the price.
Good to know
- Sturdy shoes and warm clothing are advisable as the temperature inside is 18°C throughout the year.
- Rooms/chambers are well ventilated and well lit
- The miners’ train and some galleries are accessible to visitors with disabilities (please enquire in advance)
- Average length of visit is around two hours
- Audio guides are available in English
- It is recommended that you pre-book your tour online at the Sel des Alpes website
The salt boutique
In the visitor centre you will find a souvenir shop where you can purchase your very own Sel des Alpes salt to take home and enjoy. There are a variety of products on offer including the 'Fleur des Alpes'. This is an authentically traditional salt, extracted by hand and dried on larch wood planks with a process dating back to the 17th century.
Take the train from Villars to the small town of Bex, a pretty journey of 45 minutes. From Bex, you can take a 90 minute walk to the salt mines, or wait for bus 153 which will take you as far as Les Devens (15 minute ride). From here, it's a 20 minute walk to the mines.
The mines are open to the public on selected days.
April-May and September-October: 2-4 tours per day, Tues-Sun
June-August: 4-10 tours per day, daily
November-March: 1-2 tours per day, Weds, Sat, Sun
Please check ahead of your visit.