Burgundy is of course best known for wine, but it also has a rich industrial history. Le Creusot is at the center of this past. This town of 26,000 was once but a small quiet village. That all changed in 1836 when the Schneider brothers decided to build a steel mill. The reason? Le Creusot and the surrounding countryside was rich in one very important resource – coal.
When you enter Le Creusot from the southeast you’ll see what was once the most powerful steam hammer in the world. This steam hammer was not only powerful, it was also accurate. It could cork a bottle and crack a nut.
Today Le Creusot still has some steel making, but most of the focus has moved to tourism. There is a small amusement park – Parc touristique des Combes (open late March to early November) and the once home of the Schneider brothers – Château de la Verrerie.
Le Creusot has a lot more nature than one would expect from a town with an industrial past. North of town is parkland and along with Parc de la Verrerie the center of town has two parks – Parc de la Couronne and Parc des Carrieres.
The area across from Château de la Verrerie was once part of the Schneider steel works. It’s now a park – Jardin des Terrasses with some of the old buildings used by the local university and library.
Le Creusot is in the center of Southern Burgundy. Best access is off the N80 road that runs between Chalon-sur-Saône and Autun. From the A6 Autoroute exit Chalon-sur-Saône – Sud. There is also a nearby TGV train station on the Paris-Lyon line. Trains run direct from Paris and take about 1.5 hours.