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Archaeology

Les Fontaines-SalEes
St-Père-sous-Vézelay

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Roman Site Les Fontaines Salées, Burgundy, France
Les Fontaines Salées

This site with its natural salt springs and mineral waters dates back to prehistoric times, around 3000BC. Huge oak tree trunks have been found which were hollowed out by fire, and used to make the lining of wells for holding the mineral water. The salt, which was obtained by evaporation, was of great commercial value at this time.

Then came a sacred Celtic settlement. A circular temple is still outlined in stones with a well, or font, in the centre where you can see gases such as nitrogen, helium and argon bubbling up to the surface of the mineral water. The area was a religious cult centre where the devout and infirm flocked to be blessed or healed at the source. They brought offerings to the gods, some of which are on display in the museum.

It was these therapeutic waters which led the Romans to establish a thermal spa here.
With a sophisticated underfloor heating system and lead piping, cold, tepid and steam rooms plus hot baths were available in separate areas for men and women, with a gymnasium and wrestling area for the men and beauty treatments for the ladies.

The excavation work began in 1934 and from the objects discovered on the site,
it has been possible to piece together the history of the fountains. The ticket to the archaeological site includes entrance to the little museum where the finds are all displayed.

*Les Fontaines-Salées are situated 1.5 km south of St-Père and are open from April to early November, every day from 10.00-12.30 and 13.30-18.30. The ticket includes entry to the museum in St-Père, tel: 00 33 (0)3 86 33 37 31.

burgundy holiday homes

Cottage at Dirol, Sleeps 5, Ref 568863a

Places to visit nearby

hotels

Also see:
Touring Routes
, Vézelay, King Arthur's French Odyssey