The Berne Est – a new cultural space

The Claude-Nicolas Ledoux performance and congress hall

Un nouvel espace culturel au cœur de la Berne Est

The Saline royale, a former saltworks, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, has built a new cultural space: the Claude-Nicolas Ledoux hall, named after the architect of the Saline royale, was inaugurated in September 2023. It puts on a rich musical programme. Artists from multiple horizons, soloists, chamber and symphonic orchestras perform here.


This historic building, called a “Berne”, meaning “pan house” was a key element in the production of salt from 1778 to 1895. Abandoned, destroyed and then rebuilt from 1930 to 1937 to accommodate horses from the Besançon stud farm (which never came), the Berne remains a testament to an industrial past and a successful restoration using reinforced concrete for the first time.


With an area of 1,000 sq. m, this performance and congress hall can accommodate 570 people seated and 1,500 standing. This new facility, which helps develop the activity of the Saline royale of Arc-et- Senans and contributes to the appeal of the area, was supported by the Département of Doubs.


As a living UNESCO site in tune with the times, the Saline royale nurtures this idea of transmission by pursing its development, and enriches its cultural offer with the completion of this major project.

Sans titre 3

The Berne Est: restored heritage

The Saline royale, built according to the plans of architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux (1736/1806), was a salt factory used to cook the salt water from Salins. The production workshops were located in the “bernes”, which were in operation from 1778, although the factory had not yet been completed. The stoves were in operation until salt production came to an end, in 1895.


In 1905/1910, the Compagnie des Salines de l’Est, owner of the site, rented the canopies of the bernes to a farmer from Buffard, to store his farming equipment.


In 1927, the Département of Doubs purchased the Saline royale to accommodate the Besançon stud farm. The Berne Est was intended to accommodate horse boxes and to store fodder upstairs. In 1938, this project was definitively abandoned.


Between 1939 and 1945, the saltworks and the bernes accommodated Spanish refugees and gathered and interned gypsies and German prisoners.


Many projects were studied concerning how the site and the large storage capacity offered by the bernes could be used, but it wasn’t until 1965 that the project for a cultural and tourist destination took shape: the Ledoux foundation thus began organising exhibitions and concerts in the bernes.


In 2023, the Saline royale inaugurated its new performance and congress hall and its recording studios in the Bernes Est, opening up great prospects for the future of this unique site.


A multimodal space

This hall, in the Berne Est (where salt was once produced) is at the cutting-edge of digital technology. It was created by the Doubs County Council and has three different configurations.


  • Flat configuration to hold trade fairs, corporate seminars or cocktail events. In this format, the stage and stands are folded up.


  • Quadri-frontal configuration with the stage in the centre and the stands unfolded on four sides


  • Frontal configuration with the stage at the back, the three stands unfolded and one row of chairs.
Saline royale inauguration berne est HD Yoan Jeudy-81

Music, the soul of the venue

Music is the soul of this venue, welcoming the greatest soloists and symphonic orchestras : Jordi Savall and the Concert des Nations, Renaud Capuçon and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, residencies and concerts by the Orchestre Français des Jeunes, and classical music master classes for young musicians from all over the world.