Stage 9 of the Tour departs from Ledoux’s Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans

Astute followers of this years Tour of France might have noticed a little more architecture surrounding stage 9 than the usual twee village or triumphal arch. Stage 9, the time trial, set out from The Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans, designed by the utopian dreamer of the enlightenment period, Claude Nicolas Ledoux. I noticed, because I was there just two weeks ago. The very site where the teams parked their buses and let their riders warm up, is host too to a museum explaining Ledoux’s contribution to architecture. I kid you not, he designed a brothel shaped like a penis and balls, and a cooper’s union shaped like a barrel. It is thanks to a professor of architecture at the Cooper Union in New York, Anthony Vidler, that we know all these facts: Vidler produced the exhibition.

I surmise that if Ledoux were alive now, he would design some kind of institute of cycling, in the shape of a bike. Ledoux would certainly approve of the kinds of onomatopoeic bike racks pictured below.


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