5 minutes to learn all there is to know about Guérande salt from Brittany

A delicate gift of the ocean, the sun, the wind and the traditional know-how of salt workers, Guérande salt has been harvested by hand in salt marshes of the Pays de la Loire for thousands of years. Let's head to the south of Brittany to find out more about this exceptional sea salt.

The story of white gold

The Guérande peninsula and salt is an ancient history: it was already being harvested in the Iron Age, alongside the birth of the region's first cities and the first Celtic States! The first salt flats using the lagoon's storage capacities date back to the 3rd century, shortly after the Roman conquest. The contours of today's salt marshes date from the 10th century. The salt trade, a true white gold, ensured the prosperity of Guérande for several centuries, making the city Brittany's first trade mecca.

The salt marshes

In the Guérande salt marshes, salt production is a 100% natural process. Thanks to a series of tanks promoting the evaporation of water, the salt contained in the seawater concentrates until it crystallizes and becomes harvestable. Under the rays of the gentle Breton sun, wet heat and wind the the seawater evaporates little by little and the salt concentration increases to become the unique (and valued) Guérande salt.

Sea salt, a demanding job

The salt workers are the heirs of an ancestral know-how and the guardians of a unique natural heritage (in French, they're called paludiers, coming from the Latin word "palus" for marsh). The salt harvest takes place in the summer, but the salt workers take care of the salt marshes throughout the year. In spring, they empty the salt pans where rainwater has accumulated and remove the mud and algae. In autumn, salt must be protected from high tides and from future frosts, while winter can be conducive to rehabilitating the bottom of the basins.

Coarse salt, fine salt, fleur de sel?

The coarse salt is recognizable by its gray crystals. Fine salt is obtained after this coarse salt has been carefully dried, crushed and sieved. As for the Guérande fleur de sel, highly sought after for its violet fragrance, it is naturally white. It is delicately picked from the surface of the salt marsh water when weather conditions permit. Very popular with great chefs, it brings a special touch to many dishes and even desserts (particularly with caramels!). The fleur de sel is not particularly meant cooking, but rather suited to serving and garnishing.

Renowned quality

Although Guérande salt, which is 100% natural, cannot obtain an organic label due to regulations, it is the only sea salt in France to benefit from the "Red Label" quality guarentee for its taste and nutritional aspects. If you buy Guérande Label Rouge salt, you can be sure that it has been harvested manually, that it is unrefined, without additives and is rich in magnesium! "Guérande salt" and "Guérande fleur de sel" obtained a protected geographical indication (PGI) in 2012, provides consumers with a guarantee on its origin and quality.

Getting to Brittany