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Miserey-Salines (Municipality, Doubs, France)

Last modified: 2022-02-27 by ivan sache
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Flag of Miserey-Salines - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 2 June 2021

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Presentation of Miserey-Salines

The municipality of Miserey-Salines (2,555 inhabitants in 2019; 622 ha) is located 10 km north of Besançon.

Miserey-Salines was was known as Misere (1149), Mesirey (1189), Messerey (1413) and, eventually, Miserey (1475). The village's name was changed from Miserey to Miserey-Salines (Miserey-Saltworks) by a Decree issued on 24 January 1922.
Local legends claim that the village was named for Roman general Misere who camped on the village's heights, or for a man living in misery along the stream. Although the village was located on the Roman road heading to Vesontio (Besançon), the so-called Gallo-Roman wall bordering the cemetery was built much later.
In the Middle Ages, the feudal domain of Miserey was vassal of the powerful barony of Ray. Jeanne de Ray, mentioned as Dame of Miserey in her testament dated 1316, was the daughter of Otto, Baron of Ray, and Yolande de Choiseul, the granddaughter of King of France Louis VI the Fat; she was also maid of honor of Countess Mahaut d'Artois. The castle of Miserey was built in the 16th century and increased in the 18th century.
[Nathalie Estavoyer. Miserey-Salines, histoire et paysages]

Ivan Sache, 27 February 2022

Flag of Miserey-Salines

The flag of Miserey-Salines (photo) is white with the municipal arms, "Per pale argent and vert a mine shaft counterchanged a chief argent, three grapevine leaves vert".

Sources of salty water have been for ages identified by the inhabitants of Misery by the presence of a specific flora, and, allegedly, by the attraction they exerted on birds. In charge of the design of the geological map of the region, engineer Boyé identified in Miserey a strip of the Keuper basin of north-eastern France, which is characterized by coal, salt and gypsum deposits. His successor, engineer Résal, found by a basic chemical analysis that Miserey water was highly concentrated in chlorine. Salt concentration of the local salted water is extreme (291 g.L-1), to be compared only with the Dead Sea (300 g.L-1). For a short period, water was brought by a pipeline of 6 km in length to the Mouillère spa in Besançon<, where it was used to heal anemia, neurosis, skin diseases...
A drilling campaign organized in 1866-1867 yield the discovery of a salt deposit, of 55.60 m in width, at a depth of 140 m. Refined salt was produced in the Marchand saltworks designed by architect Delacroix. Brine was pumped from four shafts; every year 300 m3 of water were poured in a reservoir to be chemically purified, and then shared among "pans", that is, tin tanks of 60 m in depth covering an area of 2,500 2. Cooking salt of average quality was obtained by boiling the brine at a temperature of 95 °C; other products were salt used in agriculture, and, mostly, in cheese maturation. Depending on industrial demand, specific products could be made, such as iodized salt. Operation of the saltworks required more than 10,000 t of coal every year. Final products were stored in salorges, which were wooden frames containing 250 t of salt, for a total storage capacity of 4,500 t. Salt was then exported by railway.
The factory was destroyed by a blaze in June 1987, which ended salt production in Miserey, which has been evaluated as 1 million t of salt.

Grapevine was grown in Miserey until the phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century; in the 1844 census, vineyards represented 52 ha, that is nearly 10% of the area of the municipality. Savagnin grapes were used to produce a renown white wine, similar to the most famous "yellow wine" from Château-Chalon. Vineyards were succeeded by orchards planted with mirabelle plums; the Miserey mirabelles, smaller then the traditional ones, were used to produce highly-prized jam and brandy. Until the 1920s, during the short production season, mirabelles were brought daily to Besançon by horse carts.
[Nathalie Estavoyer. Miserey-Salines, histoire et paysages]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 27 February 2022