Arc-et-Senans

130 000 visitors each year

The economic life of Arc-et-Senans is mostly dedicated to tourism and to the 130,000 visitors who come to the Salt Works every year. Its unique architecture, both astonishing and fascinating, is probably the reason why it was the first monument to be listed a World Heritage Site in 1982.

The Ledoux Museum is the only one in Europe to be dedicated to a single architect and this in spite of the fact that few of Ledoux buildings remain today. Apart from the saltworks, the Benouville castle in Normandy and the Rotund of La Villette in Paris are the only Ledoux works to be still visible.

Since 2010, 32 bedrooms designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte have allowed visitors to spend the night in an extraordinary setting.

The Festival of Gardens is another yearly event held in the Saltworks.

«  City of Utopia »

To remain a place of activity in the 21st century, the Saltworks has hosted since 2012 events and meetings between artists, businessmen, scientists and philosophers to imagine a City of Utopia. The first edition dealt with the works and writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau for the 300th anniversary of his birth. 

The Festival of Gardens - © www.salineroyale.com
One previous stage
Pop: 1,500
Commune of the Doubs department (25)Economy : tourism, timber.
Specialties :  salt, Dole gingerbread, Morteau sausage, bresi.
Sport : FC Mouchard Arc-et-Senans (football).
Celebrities : Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Marquis of Grammont.
Festivals : Garden festival (May).
Labels : Royal Saltworks are listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. 

Timeline

  • 1049

    A village named Arcum is mentioned.
  • Middle-Ages

    Arc-en-Valloye and Senans are protected by two castles, Roche sur Loue to the East and Château-Rouillaud (destroyed in 1648) to the West
  • 1593

    Arc-et-Senans has 109 « fires », about 500 inhabitants, living on farming and the forest. The village is ruled by the counts of Salins, themselves vassals to the counts of Burgundy and later the Habsburg, making the area a part of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • 1678

    The Franche-Comté passes to the French crown by the Treaty of Nijmegen.
  • 1745

    The population reaches 150 "fire", approximately 720 persons, 64 houses and 57 ploughs.
  • 1756

    The marquis of Grammont buys the domain of Roche and turns the old castle into an elegant castle.
  • 1775

    Because of the immense resources in wood to be used as fuel for the works, Arc-et-Senans is chosen as the site to implant a huge salt works. The salt production starts in 1799.
  • 1789 to 1793

    Thanks to the salt works, the population goes up to 1,200 and reaches its peak of 1,600 in 1836.
  • 1895

    Closure of the Royal Saltworks.
  • 1923

    The Swiss company of the Vallorbe files builds a manufacture near the saltworks, the first in a series of implantations reviving the village.
  • 1927

    The Doubs department buys back the ruined saltworks. Thanks to several restorations, the buildings recover their imposing aspect of old and become a major asset for tourism.
Claude Nicolas Ledoux, architect of the Royal Saltworks. Painting attributed to Antoine-Francois Callet, Carnavalet Musuem, Paris.
One previous stage
Pop: 1,500
Commune of the Doubs department (25)Economy : tourism, timber.
Specialties :  salt, Dole gingerbread, Morteau sausage, bresi.
Sport : FC Mouchard Arc-et-Senans (football).
Celebrities : Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Marquis of Grammont.
Festivals : Garden festival (May).
Labels : Royal Saltworks are listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. 

Arc-et-Senans and cycling

Arc-et-Senans was chosen by Louis XV to house the Royal Saltworks in 1771, but it waited until 1996 to see the Tour’s peloton. It was during a stage which set off from there, in Doubs, which finished in Aix-les-Bains. A novice called Michael Boogerd was the winner and this was the first of two victories in the Tour de France for the Dutch rider.

Michael Boogerd won a Tour de France stage starting from Arc-et-Senans in 1996 - © Presse Sports
One previous stage
Pop: 1,500
Commune of the Doubs department (25)Economy : tourism, timber.
Specialties :  salt, Dole gingerbread, Morteau sausage, bresi.
Sport : FC Mouchard Arc-et-Senans (football).
Celebrities : Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Marquis of Grammont.
Festivals : Garden festival (May).
Labels : Royal Saltworks are listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. 

What to see

The Royal Saltworks
www.salineroyale.com

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux  museum

The only museum dedicated to an architect, the Claude-Nicolas Ledoux museum focuses on the work of the architect of the Royal Saltworks.

Some sixty models retrace the life and work of a man whose surviving realisations are few. Some never saw the light of day. Most were destroyed by time or the hand of man. The multi-facetted work included theatres, mansions, custom offices but also utopian projects like the ideal town of Chaux, a cemetery, schools, prisons and varied industrial establishments.

St Benigne church

Built in the 19th century in the classical style, its shelters several remarkable paintings, notably ten pictures from the 17th century listed as historical monuments. The tower was rebuilt identically after burning down in 1921.

Roche-sur-Loue castle

When it was built in the 11th century for countess Etiennette of Burgundy, the castle was a fortified place. It was entirely reconstructed in 1756 by the marquis of Grammont  to become his residence. A private home in a perfect state of preservation, it is not open to visits but keeps four rooms for bed and breakfast.

Bernard Jobin workshop and house

Sculptor Bernard Jobin was born in Arc-et-Senans in 1945. He is the last artist in France to still produce monumental  works made ot copper sheets. Five of his sculptures can be seen in the commune.

Air show

Every year in September, fans of balloons and montgolfiers gather in Arc-et-Senans for a popular air show.

The Saltworks by night - © Lionel GeorgesThe castle of Roche sur la Loue - © Aurore Galland
One previous stage
Pop: 1,500
Commune of the Doubs department (25)Economy : tourism, timber.
Specialties :  salt, Dole gingerbread, Morteau sausage, bresi.
Sport : FC Mouchard Arc-et-Senans (football).
Celebrities : Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Marquis of Grammont.
Festivals : Garden festival (May).
Labels : Royal Saltworks are listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. 

A salty story

Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site since 1982, the Arc-et-Senans Royal Saltworks is the master-work of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806), a visionary architect of the Age of Enlightenment. It is also a crucial monument in the history of industrial technology.  

Destined to the production of salt and decided by King Louis XV, it was built between 1775 and 1779, ten years before the French Revolution.  At the time, salt was used to preserve food products but also in the manufacture of glass and silverware, in medicine and agriculture. The State imposed a heavy tax on salt, the infamous “gabelle” which provided most of the nation’s funds. As such, salt was a major economic resource. The Royal Saltworks functioned as an integrated factory including the whole of the working community. Set in a big arch, it contained both the habitations and the production units in eleven distinct buildings.

The salt production process was especially complicated as the raw material came from 20 kilometres away. Underground pipelines were dug to bring the bittern from Salins to Arc-et-Senans. The fuel to burn it was plenty, the forest being the largest in France at the time. Once on the spot the salty water was heated in massive pans and salt was extracted as water evaporated. The salt was sold in loaves or in grains depending on its destination. Made obsolete by modern technology, the Saltworks closed in 1895. Abandoned and plundered, it was being sold for its stones when the Doubs department bought it in 1927 and progressively restored it to its original state.

It is now a unique testimony of its time. 

Granvelle palace - © Ville de Besançon
One previous stage
Pop: 1,500
Commune of the Doubs department (25)Economy : tourism, timber.
Specialties :  salt, Dole gingerbread, Morteau sausage, bresi.
Sport : FC Mouchard Arc-et-Senans (football).
Celebrities : Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Marquis of Grammont.
Festivals : Garden festival (May).
Labels : Royal Saltworks are listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. 

Jersey wearers after the stage 5

Classifications after the stage 5

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