Saint Marie aux Mines

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A French fossil and mineral show

 by Nando Musmarra


Sainte Marie aux Mines lies in the French Alsace region, not far from the city of Strasbourg where the European parliament has its place. The whole area is a real “bijoux”, a natural and artistic jewel high-lighted by many small and romantic villages that compete in beauty and cultural heritage.


Pterosaur Ramphorhynchus intermedius with the flying membrane preserved. Solnhofen limestone, Late Jurassic,Germany

During the last week of June in the beautiful town of Sainte Marie aux Mines is held one of the biggest fossil and mineral shows in Europe. Once a year the town, like Superman, transforms itself into a busy and colorful fossil and mineral market. Like a miniature Tucson, the whole village is involved, and all the streets are invaded by hundreds of people rushing everywhere, from every country, to sell, trade and buy fossils, gems, meteorites, jewelry and minerals.

Visitors can enjoy Devonian and Cretaceous Moroccan fossils (this year the special was the Globidensis sp. mosasaur tooth), wonderful green-blue malachite from Zaire, rare minerals from Africa, Russian trilobites and freshly discovered Siberian meteorites.

Beautiful Hauterivien (Lower Cretaceous) ammonites from the Upper Provence, France

But what makes Sainte Marie aux Mines a very special show is the small dealers, the amateur fossil and mineral collectors who offer very unusual specimens. This year my eyes were caught by the incredible variety of coiled and straight ammonites from France and Germany rarely seen on the US market. In my experience, there is no place in Europe where such a variety of species and shapes can be admired.

Both for sale and display there were a lot of wonderful specimens of fossil crabs, echinoids, trilobites and shells from virtually every country.

This year the special exhibitions focused on French dinosaurs, the real fossils on display were on loan by the most important museums of France.

 Saint Marie aux Mines is in the Val d’Argent, the Silver valley, so called because of  the large number of silver mines from where the precious metal was extracted since the 10th century.


Because Sainte Marie is a small town, there are very few accomodations, so Diana and I chose to stay in Colmar, a very romantic town just south of the show. Driving every day from Colmar to Sainte Marie (approximatively 20 kilometers one way) we had the opportunity to see the “cigognes” (Ciconia ciconia, a species of stork) that migrate in Alsace during that period of the year. Every building, tree, roof or light pole sported a cigogne; in Europe, this is considered to be good luck.


Several Ciconia ciconia on the roof. Ribeauville, Alsace, France

This year the Sainte Marie aux Mines show will be held from June 26th to 29th

If any of you are planning to travel to France during that time of the year, it is a good idea to consider including the beautiful Alsace region in your trip. While in the area don’t forget to try the tasty local cuisine and the exceptional Alsatian wine.

Sainte Marie aux Mines, good food and gorgeous display of fossil and mineral. Is your appetite whetted?

  More info on


 Nando Musmarra © 1999-2008
Quest'articolo è stato pubblicato su Fossil News 


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