French national railway museum: Mulhouse, Alsace
best transport and industrial museums in France
France was, until the twentieth century, essentially an agricultural
country, it is also a country with a significant industrial history.
For various reasons, the Industrial
off to a slow start in France. By the year 1800, France was still a
rural society, and the great phase of indusrialisation that had begun
in England a hundred years before was hardly visible in France.
One of the reasons why the French had their
Revolution" in 1789 was that French society had not evolved. Like other
continental countries, France remained attached in the eighteenth
century to a traditional mercantile model of society, and did not seek
to adopt the new industrial model that was emerging in Britain.
Peugeot motor museum, Sochaux, Franche Comté
After the French Revolution, France moved into a
change; and with that change came industry, more mines, large-scale
production, and from the 1830s
onwards railways, the
great transport revolution of the nineteenth century.
The pace of railway building in France was not as frenetic as it was in
Britain, where unfettered "railway mania" led to massive overbuild and
duplication of routes. In France the building of new railways was done
in accordance with a strategic plan, was therefore more coherent and
slower. By the late 1880s however, France was effectively criss-crossed
by a network of railways, a large part of which are still in service
today. The railways transported coal from the mines to the cities, and
goods and travellers all over France.
At the end
of the 19th century however, France was among the pioneering nations
with regard to automobiles or cars, well ahead of Britain. By 1900,
France was the biggest producer of cars in Europe, and remains a major
car-manufacturing country to this day. And also in the early twentieth
century, France was a pioneering country in the field of aviation,
thanks to men like Alberto Dumont and Louis Blériot. After
second world war, France and Britain worked together to produce
concorde, the world's first and so far only supersonic jet transport
plane; and today France is a world leader in aircraft design and
manufacturing, with the headquarters and main assembly plant for
Airbus, and the Dassault company still producing state-of-the-art
Naturally this industrial heritage
is remembered in a number of museums across France - car museums, train
museums, aircraft museums, space museums, historic mines, and other
and sites. The best of these are listed below.
Check out locations
of many of these museums on Tourist
map of France
, looking for this marker:
In addition to the above, there are numerous small transport and
industrial museums all over France, often known as