Saline Royale d'Arc-et-Senans

Useful Information

Location: Arc-et-Senans
Open: FEB to MAR daily 10-12. 14-17.
APR to JUN daily 9-12. 14-18.
JUL to AUG daily 9-19.
SEP to OCT daily 9-12. 14-18.
NOV to DEC daily 10-12. 14-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50, Children (6-15) EUR 3,50, Children (0-5) free, Students (16-25) EUR 5, Disabled EUR 6, Family (2+2) EUR 19.50.
Audioguide EUR 1.50.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 6, Children (6-17) EUR 3, Students (18-25) EUR 4.
Classification: MineSalt Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Saline Royale, Institut Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Département Tourisme et Publics, 25610 Arc et Senans, Tel: +33-381-544545, Fax: +33-381-544546.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


29-APR-1773 Louis XVI signs the edict authorizing the construction of the saltworks.
1775 beginning of construction.
1982 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The rocks below this area contain layers of salt, which is in the reach of the groundwater and leached out. Some springs in the area are salty, and the salt has been utilized by man for millennia. The use is simple: either let the water dry in the sun (protected from rain) or speed the process by heating the water.


The Saline Royal (Royal Salt Works) at Arc-et-Senans is a strange sort of mine. There is no mine at all, as there is a rather simple way to mine salt without underground or open cast mining activities: groundwater penetrating through layers of salt dissolves the salt and brings it to the surface. The salty water of the springs is collected, evaporated and finally the salt remains.

So actually Arc-et-Senans is not the mine, it is the processing plant. And it is an impressive processing plant, an early example of industrial architecture. It was built by the architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (*1736-✝1806), a prominent Parisian architect of the time. He tried to create a really modern and pragmatic approach by designing the semicircular complex to reflect a hierarchical organization of work. At the center of the semicircle lies the house of the director. On either side are the salt works, two buildings 80 m long, 28 m wide, and 20 m high contain the drying ovens, the heating pots, the "Sales des Bosses", and the salt stores.

The salt works produced 40,000 quintals of salt per year at its peak. It was owned by the king, based on a state monopoly for salt. The French government imposed a tax on salt consumption, the gabelle, which was collected by forcing everybody over the age of eight years to buy a certain amount of salt per year at a price the government had set. However, the salt produced at Arc-et-Senans was exported completely to nearby Switzerland.