Couriot Mining Museum in Saint-Etienne

This is the final post in a five-part series on my recent trip to France.

Toward the end of our visit, our friends took us to the Couriot pit, close to their home in Saint-Etienne. The site was one of the most active coal mines in the region from 1907 until 1973 when it was shut down and converted into a museum.

The hanging room is the first stop on the miners’ journey underground. The room contains 1,100 baskets to hoist up miners’ clothing on chain-mounted pulleys. The hangers were for private use and could be padlocked. Hanging in the warmest part of the room (the temperature was kept between 75 and 85 degrees), the overalls could easily dry out at the end of a shift.

The communal shower, with hot running water, is adjacent to the hanging room.

In the mine gallery, I switched to my 50 mm f/1.4 lens and shot at the widest aperture in the dim light.

A scene in the mine that had barely enough light for a decent handheld photo. I used the technique of holding the shutter button for five successive rapid-fire shots. A few were blurry, but this one was successfully in focus.

In the extraction machine building, I switched back to my 24-105 mm lens to capture the enormity of the room.

The charging room for the electric lamps.

A detail from the charging room. I couldn’t resist photographing these objects in a ray of late afternoon light.

Another detail in the charging room.

Miners left tokens on these boards in exchange for their lamps.

Flame lamps await repair in the lamp maintenance shop.

One of many safety posters.

Read the first post in the series: French Landscapes
Read the second post in the series: Nine-hour Layover in Paris
Read the third post in the series: A Day in Lyon
Read the fourth post in the series: Chamonix and Mont Blanc

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