Abstract The marais salants of Guerande are one of the most remarkable cultural landscapes in France, resulting from their continuous use since the Middle Ages for the production of marine salt. Salt continues to be produced by unchanged artisan methods which depend on a transmission of indigenous knowledge from generation to generation. The paper argues that the protection of France's cultural heritage has until recently been concerned with buildings rather than landscapes. Additionally recent conservation legislation has been driven more by ecological priorities than by concern to maintain cultural features and lifestyles. In these circumstances, it is argued that the only way to preserve the cultural landscapes of the marais salants is to maintain on site the traditional artisan systems and to safeguard the transfer of indigenous knowledge on which it is based.
Journal of Historical Geography