Sel de Mer, Fleur de Sel and Other Salts

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The wild seashore of the Camargue, parched by the sun and stripped to a salty desert by the Mistral and the Tramontane, has its own harvest; sel de mer is one of the great products of Provence and Languedoc.

Once there were dozens of salt works, now there are three, producing 500,000 tons a year, continuing a trade that has probably been going since settlers arrived from Rhodes in the fifth century b c . When the Romans colonized Septimania (Settimanie in modern French), as the Romans called Languedoc, an engineer called Peccaius was sent to build an official salt works, pumping seawater into ponds for evaporation, on a site near Aigues-Mortes in the Petit Camargue; this site was named Peccais. At the time salt was precious, so much so that Roman soldiers were at one time paid in salt; each man ‘worth his salt’.