The Saline royale of Arc-et-Senans is a masterpiece by Claude Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806), a visionary architect from the age of Enlightenment. It is a rare and exceptional example from the history of industrial architecture.
The factory was designed to produce salt and the Saline royale was created at the behest of Louis XV and built between 1775 and 1779. The Saline royale operated as an integrated factory and almost all of the community that worked there lived on site. When new technologies emerged, the Saline royale becames 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.
In December 1982, the Saline royale at Arc-et-Senans was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list: it is the 12th French site and the 150th world site to receive this distinction. Above all, it is the first example of industrial architecture to benefit from such recognition, due to the ideal of progress that it represented through its rational and hierarchical organisation of work.
Today, the 8-hectare haven of nature has received the label Centre culturel de Rencontre from the Ministry of Culture and welcomes 120,000 visitors per year. The Saline royale is composed of 11 buildings, including permanent museums, temporary exhibitions, concert and seminar rooms, a 3-star hotel, a gardens festival, several eating areas and a bookshop-gift shop. It also offers a wide range of activities suited to its various visitors.