The Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, a UNESCO listed historic monument, is the work of Claude Nicolas Ledoux. Located 35km from Besançon (Doubs) and 30km from Dole (Jura), its construction, which began in 1775 under Louis XVI, is the first great achievement of industrial architecture reflecting the ideal of progress of the Enlightenment. This vast semi-circular structure was designed to allow for a rational and hierarchical organisation of work. The Royal Saltworks' architecture, its history and its rehabilitation make it a unique monument in the world.
Labelled a "Cultural Encounter Centre" since 1973, it welcomes 120,000 visitors per year for concerts, conferences and exhibitions on the major issues of the contemporary world. Artists and researchers are welcomed in residence throughout the year, as are ordinary visitors who can also stay on the site (3-star hotel), take advantage of the bookshop and its garden festival. Companies can also organise their events at the conference centre. The Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans is classified as a "Sensitive Natural Area" and is a refuge under agreement with the League for the Protection of Birds. It is developing a vast educational programme to ensure that the exceptional heritage of the monument's natural, architectural and industrial riches is passed on to future generations in the best possible conditions.