La Mine Témoin

Mine Témoin d'Alès

Useful Information

Location: Chemin de la Cité Ste Marie, Rochebelle 30100 Alès.
A7 Paris-Marseille exit Bollène, 70 km. A9 Nice-Bordeaux exit Nîmes-Ouest, 40 km.
(44.132212, 4.067064)
Open: MAR to JUN Tue-Sun 9:30-12:30, 14-18.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19.
SEP to OCT Tue-Sun 9:30-12:30, 14-18.
Fee: Adults EUR 10, Children (13-18) EUR 6.50, Children (6-12) EUR 5.50, Children (0-5) free, Former Miner EUR 5.50.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5.50.
Classification: MineCoal Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=650 m, T=13-15 °C.
Guided tours: L=700 m, D=80 min, Max=30, St=40. Helmets provided.
Guided tours in English Friday afternoons JUL and AUG.
Accessibility: No, mine train rails on the floor.
Address: Mine Témoin d'Alès, Chemin de la Cité Ste Marie, Rochebelle 30100 Alès, Tel: +33-466-304515, Fax: +33-466-615826. E-mail: contact
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.


1230 Benedictine monks mined the coal in the area.
1840 begin of coal mining, carbon mines of this area power the industrialization of France.
1945/46 mine opened after World War II by the Charbonnages de France (CdF).
1968 mine closed.



The tour through the coal mine Mine Témoin (Witness Mine) at Alès includes 20 minutes of introductory film and a one hour long underground tour. The underground tour starts with the headframe, which brings visitors into the mine. The elevator is actually not original, it was constructed for the show mine. Underground is a series of passages which contains exhibits like mining machinery and mannikins displayng scenes of daily work life. The exhibition is divided into four different sections, which show different eras of mining technology.

This mine is rather young, it was opend by the French government after World War II. In this time the country, which was devastated after six years of war, nationalized the mines. The coal mines were unified in the Charbonnages de France (CdF). In 1946 22,000 people worked for the local branch of the CdF, the Houillères du Bassin des Cévennes (HBC). They produced 2,4 million tons of coal.

This mine was never a regular coal mine, Mine Témoin means educational mine, actually a normal mine which was worked by 14 to 18-year-old apprentices learning the necessary techniques for their later job as a miner. They produced coal, but this was not the main goal.

When the crisis in the European coal mining began, this was one of the first mines to be closed. There was no need for the existing miners any more, so mining education was stopped. This mine was closed after only 22 years in 1968.

This mine was used for the mining museum, because it already differed from other mines. Different mining techniques were taught, so there were examples of different technologies close together. It shows mining technology from the early days, because this was taught to the apprentices. But as it was closed in the late sixties, the exhibition of mining technology ends here.

The tour is well developed, nevertheless sturdy boot and a warm sweater are advisable. Because of the rails of the mining train, the tour is not suitable for strollers. Helmets are provided.

The mine is mainly horizontal except for 20 steps. Facilities include picnic area, free parking, shop with souvenirs, books, mining lamps, fossils ferns.

The mine is good example of the state of the earth during the carboniferous era. Five passages representing the five epochs of mining between 1880 and 1960 allowing visitors to understand the spectacular developments which have taken place in mining over the last century. The commentary and anecdotes of the guides add a human dimension to the visit. The work here has ensured that this remains an authentic place reflecting the work of miner for years to come. Since its commencement as a mine in 1840, the coal of the regions has provided work for the inhabitants and brought prosperity to the area. At the height of its productivity in 1947, the mine employed 23,000 workers

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.