Arc-et-Senans Things to Do
The Royal Saltworks were build between 1775 and 1779 and did not only house the salt-production equipment, but also workers’ homes. The salt water (called brine) came from Salins-les-Bains and was transported to Arc-et-Senans by underground wooden ducts over a lenght of more than 20 km. They used the natural decline of two rivers. At Arc-et-Senans then, the brine was heated to extract the salt. The saltworks were closed in 1895 because there were new and probably cheaper techniques to gain salt.
Today you unfortunately won't see much of this history. The building in which the brine was heated is now a big hall that is used for events. However the Director's House has a museum with some information about the history of salt. Unfortunately all explanations are only in French. There also was an exhibition of paintings from Courbert, this may be one of the changing exhibition. Most other buildings cannot not be visited, but there are information plates (this time also in English & German) that tell you the purpose of the house in the past and now.
Admission: adults 7,50 €, children (6-15 years) 3,50 €, young adults (16-25 years) 5 €, reduced (disabled, passport inter-musée) 6,50 €.
Jan/Feb/March/Nov/Dec: 10-12 and 14-17
Apr/May/June/Sep/Oct: 9-12 and 14-18
July/August: 9-19Related to:
- Museum Visits
The Musée Ledoux is found on the grounds of the Royal Saltworks in one of the buildings houses. It's dedicated to Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, the one who build the Royal Saltworks. Already the entrance building is impressive, partly looking like a cave. Also you here see scultpures showing brine flowing out of an urn, which you will notice on other buildings inside, too. The saltworks are designed in a semicircle around the Director's House, with several buildings that are not connected, a nice layout.
I found the museum interesting and impressing. You there find several scale models of other of Ledoux's dreams and projects. It's also showing drafts of the city of Chaux, an "ideal city" that Ledoux was working on. Only a part of it was realized - the Royal Saltworks.
The entrance to this museum is included in the admission for the Royal Saltworks.Related to:
- Museum Visits
The best of the Royal Saltworks were the gardens behind the buildings. There was lots to see and do - you could for example play boardgames like chess (the game pieces were flowerpots and probably have flowers at other times of the year), there was boccia and a bowling alley, all with many flowers around. Everywhere were explanations, but only in French.
I also liked the romantic little pool, with a bench with an inventive backrest - they had filled plastics gloves and put them on the backrest. There also was a kind of labyrinth and some distoring mirrors, all in a garden environment with flowers and bushes. I absolutely loved the gardens!
I've read something about an 8th festival of gardens from June to October 2008, so it seems the gardens may look different in other years.