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The Guérande salt marshes function by gravity.
They are built between the level of the high tide, to fill the reservoirs, and the low tide to empty them. The fresh water of winter needs to be removed before the preparation work can begin.
The soil type is very important - it must be clay to guarantee waterproofing between the different levels, be malleable, and able to keep cool to ensure the best crystallisation.
A good salt works must be "ventilated", ie. well-orientated compared to the prevailing winds, far from obstacles and not too enclosed.
Illustration from Gildas Buron, Source: "Musée des Marais Salants from Batz-sur-Mer"
For more information about the specific terms about salt marshes, please see the glossary