Arc-et-Senans Royal Saltworks

Unesco World Heritage Site

In 1982, the Arc-et-Senans Royal Saltworks was included on the UNESCO world heritage list. Designed by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806), a visionary architect in the Enlightenment period, the Royal Saltworks site is a rare and an exceptional example of industrial architecture history. The site was designed for the production of salt, commissioned by Louis XV, and built between 1775 and 1779.

Almost all of the employees at the Royal Saltworks lived on the premises near the production site. It was built in the form of a circular arc, and included both the dwellings and the production sites. In all, there were 11 buildings: the Director’s house, the Stables, the East and West Salt Buildings, the Eastern and Western Workers (Commis) buildings, the Eastern and Western Dormitories (Berniers) Buildings, the Cooperage, the Guards Building, and the Farrier/Blacksmith.

When new technologies emerged, the Royal Saltworks became obsolete, and closed down in 1895. The site was abandoned, plundered, and damaged by fire in 1918; but in 1927, the Doubs Department bought the premises and saved them from ruin. After three consecutive restoration cycles that were completed in 1996, the site was restored to its former glory.

Visitors from around the world acknowledge that by virtue of its exceptional architecture, its history and reconstruction, the Royal Saltworks site is a unique monument. It is now open for visits, and venue hosts exhibits are featured during each cultural season, a garden festival and concerts, hosts researchers and artists-in-residence, and organises activities for children, conferences, and innovating events.

The Ledoux Museum

The « Ledoux Museum », which presents the work of the Royal Saltworks creator, is the only European museum dedicated to an architect.
The life path of the architect is illustrated through about sixty models. Nowadays, few of his buildings remain, either because they were never built, or because they were destroyed by time or by man. Along the way, visitors can marvel at the variety of his works (theatres, private estates, and tax collection buildings), as well as at his “dreamed projects”, that sometimes had a utopian ring to them. Examples are the Ideal City in Chaux, a cemetery, a pleasure house, schools, prisons, and industrial buildings.

Video in French

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