Musée des Mines d'Argent à Pontgibaud

Useful Information

Location: Château Dauphin, 6 Rue du Frère Genestier, 63230 Pontgibaud
(45.834435, 2.854429)
Open: Easter to JUN Sun, Hol 14-18.
JUL to AUG Tue-Sun 14-19.
SEP to OCT Sun, Hol 14-18.
Fee: Castle: Adults EUR 7, Children EUR 4, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 5, Unemployed EUR 5.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 5, Children EUR 3.50.
Silver Mining Museum: Adults EUR 4.50, Children EUR 1.50, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 4, Children EUR 1.
Combo: Adults EUR 10, Children EUR 5, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 8, Children EUR 4.
Classification: MineSilver Mine MineLead Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=68 km.
Guided tours: D=40 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Musée des Mines d'Argent à Pontgibaud, Château Dauphin, 6 Rue du Frère Genestier, 63230 Pontgibaud, Tel: +33-473-88-73-39.
Association “la route des mines Dômes et Combrailles”, Tel: +33-684-54-14-46. E-mail:
Office de Tourisme des Combrailles, 2 Place Rayond Gauvin - BP25, 63390 Saint Gervais d'Auvergne, Tel: +33-473-85-80-94.
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.


3rd century first galena mining in the area.
1825 Pontgibaud mine opened.
1898 Pontgibaud mine closed.
01-NOV-2003 association Route Mines Domes Combrailles Auvergne founded.



Musée des Mines d'Argent à Pontgibaud (Museum of Silver Mines in Pontgibaud) is dedicated to the silver mining in the 19th century. Between 1853 and 1897, 68 km of galleries and 2,900 m of shafts were dug, and the foundries produced 50,000 t of lead and 100 t of silver. At the end of the 19th century, almost a quarter of the French silver coins, notably the famous 1 Franc and 5 Franc Napoléon III, were made of silver from the Pontgibaud mine. Peasant miners started the mining of galena in the 3rd century, all along the valley of the Sioule. The museum explains the history of mining techniques, from the extraction of galena to the melting of silver ingots.

The mining museum is located in the Château Dauphin, the family home of Count and Countess Gabriel de Germiny. Hence, it is also known as Musée des Mines d'Argent à Château Dauphin (Château Dauphin Silver Mine Museum). The castle was completed in the 15th century and restored in the 19th century by Count Caesar III de Pontgibaud. The museum is located in the outbuildings of the lower courtyard of Château Dauphin. It has the same open hours as the castle.

The amateurs and geologists from the non-profit association La route des Mines Dômes-Combrailles, also known as La Route Des Mines Pontgibaud, installed the museum. The first part of the name is because they also offer guided tours of several sites at the Barbecot and Rosiers mines. We were not able to find out what the second part of the name means and why or when they changed it. Pontgibaud is the city, Dômes is short for Puy-de-Dôme, which is the departement where they are located, and Combrailles is a small village to the west, but actually Dômes-Combrailles seems to be a local dialect synonym for "Puy-de-Dôme plus adjacent municipalities". The museum is actually called Musée de la route des mines en Combrailles on Wikipedia, a name we could not find on the web. Any help to sort out the multiple similar but different names would be appreciated. It seems they are incomprehensible for people which do not live there.

At Pontgibaud the ore from the mines Pranal, Barbecot, Roure, Les Rosiers, La Miouse, and Villevieille was processed. So it was the precessing center for the whole area. The last silver ingot, which was cast in Pontgibaud, is on display in the museum. When the mines closed at the end of the 19th century, the foundry was also closed. Only the large chimney of the former foundry remains, which is listed as a heritage site.

For a long time the locals worked at the mines to improve agricultural income. The work was as difficult as in the coal mines, but much less dangerous. There were no gas, no explosions, and very few collapses. The worst accident left three dead, asphyxiated after a violent storm which flooded the galleries. This is not nice, but compared to dozens of dead colliery miners after a firedamp explosion, this is quite harmless. On the other hand, all miners suffered from the miner disease, a result of the dust in the air.

Only a few years ago there were still a lot of slag heaps, the remaining material from the smelting of the ore. The mounds of crushed rock with a goldene color still contain lead, and a little arsenic, which means that nothing can grow on them. A few years ago the city started to level them and cover them with soil, so they are mostly gone, or at least not visible any more.