This set of buildings located in Arcs-et-Senans (Franche-Comte) is incredibly interesting to anyone with an interest in Thomas Jefferson and/or enlightenment age architecture – notably so since it was not only constructed at the time it was built but is restored and available to the public.
A lot of information on the Royal Saltworks is available both here and here. Ledoux’s influence on Jefferson is well documented and in evidence in most of his projects. On Jefferson’s Academical Village at the University of Virginia, Ledoux is even “quoted” in one pavilion. But the greater feeling one gets when visiting Ledoux’s Royal Saltworks in Arcs-et-Senans (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the unmistakable kindred spirit between these two architects – their mutual conviction that philosophy and architecture share a link greater than building and commerce.
As can be seen in the drawing below, the full design was never fully realized. The “gabelle” or salt tax, was rather unpopular during the time of the French Revolution -making the entire idea of an “ideal city” rather remote.