1 Rte du Paladas, 87500 Le Chalard.
40 km from Limoges and 8 km from Saint Yrieix la Perche. On D901 between Saint-Yriex-la-Perche and Châlus, 7 km northwest of Saint-Yriex-la-Perche.
JUN Sat, Sun 15-18.
JUL to AUG daily 15-18.
SEP Sat, Sun 15-18.
Adults EUR 10, Children (0-12) EUR 4.
|Incandescent Electric Light System
|Chalard Initiatives - Maison de l'Or en Limousin, 1 Rte du Paladas, 87500 Le Chalard, Tel: +33-782-29-08-50. 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.
|first open cast gold mining by the Celts.
|prospection revealed that the ore mined by the Gauls was indeed gold.
|mining ended partially.
|last operational mine bombed.
|Mine du Bourneix opened.
|end of mining.
Maison de l'Or en Limousin (House of Gold in Limousin) is dedicated to 2,500 years of gold mining in the Limousin. It is located in the village Le Chalard, south of the Haute Vienne, at the border of the Dordogne. The geological exhibition explains how the gold deposits of the Chalard region formed.
The oldest gold mines in the Limousin date from the Gallic period, the Celtic era before the country was invaded by the Romans. It is named after the Celtic tribe called Gauls. The gold was mined in pits on the surface called aurières, which were partially excavated by archaeologists. The results are models in the museum which show how gold was mined 2,500 years ago. According to the archaeologists, there were 2000 aurières which produced 70 tons of gold in 400 years.
It seems, no gold was mined for almost 2000 years, until the recent mining period started at the beginning of the 20th century with a small gold rush. For many centuries the locals believed that the Celts actually mined tin. But tests carried out in 1876 revealed that the ore actually had a high content of gold. As a result, some forty mining companies started to mine gold in the territory of Saint-Yrieix. There were several mines which mined in several levels underground, but several were closed with World War I and the last operational mine was bombed in 1944 during World War II.
But again mining was revived. The last operational mine was the mine du Bourneix (Bourneix mine), the gold was separated in a plant called Le Chalard. It was operational between 1982 and 2002. For some years it produced 2 tons of gold per year during the 80s and early 90s, then production fell to 500 kg per year. The mine was closed when the site's economically viable reserves were exhausted. They finally closed because the European wages were too high and the mines no longer profitable. The remaining equipment and tools at the museum show modern gold prospecting and mining.
But yet the gold mining history is not over. When the gold price boosted in the early 2000s, many formerly unprofitable mines became profitable again when the price increased from USD 550 in 2000 to USD 2,300 in 2011. And so there is now an Australian company which plans to resume gold mining in the region. Locals are actually not very happy about this development, although it would provide jobs. Gold mining is also destroying the landscape and releasing poisonous substances. Depending on the used technique, arsenic or mercury is used in huge amounts, thousands of tons, and it later pollutes the dumps and causes environmental problems. The collectif Stop Mines 87 (Stop Mines 87 collective) actively opposes the plans.
The museum is located in the same building with the tourist office. There is only a museum and several mining models, but no mine replica and no underground tour. All the mine tunnels were closed for good. Beneath the exhibition, there are numerous activities offered, at least during July and August, like gold panning courses in the morning and guided geological excursions to the excavation of the Gallic aurières and the Bourneix mine. Online booking is strongly recommended.