So influential were both the Comte de Buffon and his eponymous forge that the town in which the latter still stands today also has the name Buffon. Georges-Louis Leclerc was born in 1707 and despite opting for law studies at the age of 16, his real love was for mathematics and the sciences and by the time he was 27 he had already been accepted into the prestigious Académie des Sciences
. After spending just five years there he was then nominated to the head of the jardin du Roi
(what is today the Jardin des Plantes
in Paris) and it is here where he completed, over the space of forty years, his career-defining work Histoire Naturelle
which contained in thirty six volumes all knowledge of living things. After being accepted to the Académie Française
in 1753 Buffon went on to create his forge in 1767 at the age of 60. At the time it was the most modern possible and produced the cheapest iron in the region.
A visit of the forge is a fascinating experience and one can appreciate both what an innovative project this was for the period and how tough conditions must have been for those working here. Not only can one follow, through the different areas of the forge, the process of producing iron, but it is also possible to see the workers' housing, Buffon's lodging and the well kept gardens. At the end of the circuit is a small exhibition with photos, documents and films recounting the story from the beginning right up until the present day. The forge is open between April and October every day except Tuesday, although in July and August it is open every day.