Musée Wolframines

Useful Information

Location: 34, route du kaolin, La Bosse, 03330 Echassieres.
(46.177150, 2.962660)
Open: Easter to JUN Mon, Wed-Sun, Hol 14-18.
JUL to AUG Mon, Wed-Sun, Hol 10-18.
SEP to All Saints Mon, Wed-Sun, Hol 14-18.
Fee: Adults EUR 4, Children (7-15) EUR 2.50, Children (0-6) free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 3.
Classification: MineClay Mine MineTungsten Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=34 km.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Wolframines, 34, route du kaolin, La Bosse, 03330 Echassieres, Tel: +33-470-90-44-99. 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.
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1848 discovery of kaolin in Beauvoir by PA Jouhet.
1954 begin of quarrying.
1962 quarry closed.
1991 Maison de la Géologie opened to the public.
2001 renamed Wolframines.
2018 renovated with funds from the EU.


The Colettes massif is located in the north of the Massif Central between the Houiller furrow of Saint-Eloy-Les-Mines and the tertiary ditch of Limagne. It is formed by two rather young granites which are different in terms of their rare element content and their mineralization. The Colettes granite (320 Ma) consists of biotite mica, muscovite mica, quartz and feldspar of the orthoclase variety. The Beauvoir granite (300 Ma) consists of lepidolite mica, quartz and feldspar of the albite variety. The mineralogy is extraordinary in its mineralogical diversity which makes the area quite popular among mineral collectors. About 80 to 100 kinds of minerals are known from the area.


The Wolframines museum is a combination of local geology museum explaining the volcanic history of the region, mining museum for the kaolin mine nearby, and eco-museum. It was formerly known as Espace Nature du val de Sioule, but was renovated with funds of the European Leader program in 2018. The building and the exhibition were modernized and extended, an the museum now also contains the tourist information. The non-profit association "La Bosse des Minéraux" was founded for the operation of the museum. Its president Jean Drouard, a former mining engineer, is responsible for mining background of the exhibition. The local tungsten mining is the reason for a wealth of extraordinary minerals found in the area, which are on display in the mineral exhibition. Wolframines also offers field trips led by Jean Christophe Thénot, a mineral enthusiast who will show the participants mineral collection sites and help with the collecting.

The museum began as Maison de la Géologie, opened in 1991 by Roger Barrel, former head of operations at the Compagnie Minière des Montmins. The Echassières site was mined since the Bronze Age. There are also mining remains from the Gallo-Roman period. Modern mining started in 1848 with the discovery of kaolin in Beauvoir by PA Jouhet. The Colettes Kaolin Company was founded by the Baron de Veauce and the Duke de Morny, and operated a number of quarries in the Colettes state forest. The first wolframite (tungsten ore) was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century by Auguste Trapenard and Joseph Sinturel. The mining area extended over 1933 ha and consisted of two different deposit with different geological origin. The North Deposit, located in the Mazet sector, and the South Deposit, located in the La Bosse sector.

Quite exceptional is, that the local mining initially took place underground and then in a quarry. In most cases the mining starts at the surface and follows the ore underground. The site was quite big, with 34 km of underground galleries, and 1 km of mine shafts. There were 2.7 km of cable cars for the transport and 350 miners produced 6000 tonnes of tungsten concentrate per year.

Behind the museum is a huge open cast for the mining of kaolin which is still in operation. This is not the tungsten mine. Kaolinite is a clay mineral, with the chemical composition Al2Si2O5(OH)4. Kaolin is clay which is rich in kaolinite, traditionally used for the production of porcelain. But today it is used for a wide variety of products, from toothpaste and cosmetics to industrial insulation, additive to various other products like paper, or is used in water and wastewater treatment.