La Gatelière, Noyant-la-Gravoyère 49520 SEGRE-EN-ANJOU BLEU.
From Angers D775, after Noyant-la-Gravoyère exit on D219 towards Bouillé-Ménard, after 1.2 km turn right. Signposted.
APR to NOV Wed 10, 14:30, 16, Sat, Sun, Hol, School Holidays 10, 11:30, 13, 14:30, 16, 16:45.
See website for exact schedule.
Adults EUR 16, Children (12-17) EUR 14, Children (4-11) EUR 12, Children (0-3) free, Students EUR 15, Unemployed EUR 15, Disabled EUR 15.
Families (2+*): Adults EUR 14,50, Children (12-17) EUR 12, Children (4-11) EUR 10.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 14,50, Children (12-17) EUR 11,50, Children (4-11) EUR 9,50.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 13,50, Children (12-17) EUR 11,50, Children (4-11) EUR 9,50.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Accessibility:||no, 200 steps.|
|Address:||Mine Bleue, La Gatelière, Noyant-la-Gravoyère 49520 SEGRE-EN-ANJOU BLEU, Tel: +33-241-943969. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1916||mine opened by the company Ardoisières angevines de Saint-Blaise.|
|1919||8 hour workdays introduced.|
|1920||additional changes for miners: social security and the right to retire at 55 after 30 years of service.|
|1927||almost 300 people working at the mine.|
|SEP-1935||highest production reached, 620t per month.|
|1936||mine closed because the main shareholder, the bank Bougère went bankrupt.|
|1985/1986||with the end of the local mining 300 jobs get lost, to save some the show mine is opeened.|
The slate of this area is interbedded with iron bearing ores, so in the area around Noyant-la-Gravoyère both slate and iron mines existed. However, the iron was not of good quality and the slate mines were always more profitable.
The Mine Bleue (Blue Mine) is the underground mine tour of a slate mine, named after the slightly blueish colour of the slate. The name of the mine is La Gâtelière. The mine is entered very comfortable down 126 m deep with a new elevator. This is rather new, ten years ago the mine was entered on a historic funicular, an inclined railway pulled by a cable, which went down 130 m to the mining level. Here a mine train was mounted which brought the group to the place where the slate was mined during the 1930s. We guess the funicular was too old to be safe, after being abandoned for almost 90 years, but it was definitely more authentic. The underground tour shows the mining of the slate, in an extraction chamber of striking dimensions. It contains an exhibition of the working places, with tools and personal belongings of the slate miners.
After the underground tour there is le butte des fendeurs, the hut of the slate splitters. Most workers actually worked on the surface, splitting the slate into thin plates and cutting it to the required size. The slate was mostly used for roofs and wall coverings, and they needed a certain size, form, and have a hole to be fixed on the roof. The demonstrations are back on the surface, but part of the tour. As it is open-air you should bring a raincoat or an umbrella on bad weather days.
Afterwards you can have a look at the open air exhibition Gueules de mineurs (Miners' Faces). It's a small trail on the premises which takes about 15 minutes. It shows the slag heaps and explains the local culture and daily life.
The mine La Gatelière was opened in 1916 and closed after only 20 years in 1936. The closure was a result of the bankruptcy of the main shareholder, the bank Bougères, not of its rentability. The mine had reached a production of about 620t per month and was operated by some 100 miners and 200 people working on the surface. Most of the slate was exported to Great Britain. When the mine was closed, several other iron mines and slate mines were still operational in the area.
The end of the local mining, both iron and slate, came around 1985. With this final closure, some 300 jobs were lost in the rural area. The municipality of Noyant-la-Gravoyère tried to create some new jobs for the unemployed miners by opening a show mine. So the mine was renovated and became a successful tourist site.
The mine has replaced the open hours by a calendar which shows available tour times. Those times are scheduled and will take place, and there is no minimum number of participants. This is quite helpful if you are an individual traveller and nobody else shows up. Unfortunately, the schedule is quite complicated now, and like most sites during Covid-19, it is best to check the calendar and prebook online or by phone for a tour. We were not able to find an acceptable way to reproduce the open hours, but we will try to explain. The mine is open from April to November, at the beginning and end only on Wednesday and the weekend, then the full week. There are six tours daily on weekends, on weekdays during summer school holidays, and on other Holidays. On weekdays there are otherwise only three tours.