Musee De Lhomme Et De Lindust 5Musee De Lhomme Et De Lindust 5
©Musee De Lhomme Et De Lindust 5|Lesley Williamson

The Royal Crystal Works of Le Creusot

An industry now extinct

Le Creusot was born of the arts of fire at the end of the 18th century. Iron, cast iron and steel made its reputation. But another activity also enjoyed its golden age until the 1830s: glass and crystal manufacturing.

A royal factory

The mining of Montcenis coal from 1769 onwards led to the creation of the Royal Foundry at Le Creusot in 1781. At the same time, the fashion for lead crystal, which had originated in England, spread to European courts and wealthy circles.

The Manufacture des Cristaux de la Reine, founded in Sèvres, near Paris, decided to set up in Le Creusot to take advantage of its coal resources. A large U-shaped building was erected on the heights overlooking the foundry to house workshops, warehouses, administration and workers’ quarters. Nearby, two conical brick halls housed the furnaces.

Luxury, detail and meticulous artistry

The beauty of Le Creusot crystals

Apogee and decline

The new factory quickly took off and innovated. It produced ordinary glass and, above all, luxury crystal products. The company specialized in opalines (or opal crystal), opaque crystal objects tinted in the mass, and inclusions, small objects with an inlaid ceramic decorative motif. At the time, customers lived in France, Europe and even Russia and America.

In the early 1830s, the Le Creusot crystal works ran into difficulties and was eventually sold by its owners. In 1832, it was bought by Baccarat and Saint-Louis, who decided to repatriate all production to eastern France. The glass and crystal industry in Creusot then came to an end.

For a time, the buildings were used to house miners and foundry workers, until the Schneider brothers took over ownership of the forges in 1837.


A castle and a museum

Now known as the Château de la Verrerie, the buildings of the former crystal works are now home to the Musée de l’Homme et de l’ Industrie, part of whose permanent exhibition recounts the history of crystal manufacture in Le Creusot.

As for the old furnaces, they have been transformed. One of them serves as the setting for the Petit Théâtre, an unexpected and magical place to discover on a guided tour.

Cristallerie Royale in three key dates


The royal crystal works are established at Le Creusot. At the time, the fashion for lead crystal was arriving straight from England and seducing French aristocratic circles.


The Cristallerie experienced its first difficulties, and was eventually sold by its owners.


Eugène Schneider decides to make the crystal works his home in Le Creusot. He gave the building a second life, transforming it from a crystal glassworks into a prestigious residence.

Not to be missed