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Places to visit Leisure, Sports, Festivals... Places to visit around Besancon Hotels, Restaurants, Camping...

General Information

Encircled by the Doubs river and set in exceptionally beautiful surroundings, Besancon is a city of art and history. It won the title of France's "greenest city". Once controlled by the Spanish, Besancon still displays extensive fortifications built by the well known architect Vauban.
Capital of Franche-Comte, Besancon is the economic and cultural pole of the region. In the 19th Century, the city became the center of France's clock and watch-making. It is now a major European center of the precision industries sector (microtechnology, robotics,...).
It has an important university, a Center of intensive language studies, drawing students from all over the world. Besancon has a rich cultural life and has always been a music loving city. From June to September, "Festiv'été" offers all kinds of festivals (music, theater, dance, exhibitions...).
The city has first-class sports facilities. There is something for everyone, hiking, golf, cycling, horseback riding, canoeing...

  City Tour  

La Boucle de Besancon

Besancon has a lively and attractive "centre ville" (downtown) located in a loop of the Doubs river. The Roman "Grande Rue" (birthplace of Victor Hugo) remains the oldest and main street, where most of the action is.

Grande Rue

Place 8 Septembre (September 8 Square)

Pont Battant

"Pont Battant" and the old quays. On the bank of the river, the "Quai Vauban" is bordered with arcaded 17th Century houses.
A small train and a boat (bateau-mouche) are available to tour the old city, its bridges and ramparts.

Palais Granvelle

This 16th Century Renaissance mansion with a rectangular interior courtyard has been renovated to house the "Musée du Temps" (Time Museum) containing the clock collections of the Beaux Arts Museum of Besancon and the city History Museum.

Cathedrale St. Jean

Cathedral built in the 12th, 13th and 18th Centuries, characterized by its two apses and a beautiful round white marble altar, known as the "Rose de Saint Jean". It has a considerable number of paintings. The bell tower houses an astronomical clock.

Porte Noire (called Black Gate after its very dark patina) a Roman Arch of Triumph, stands next to the cathedral. Built in the 2nd Century, it is exceptional by its size and its sculptures; although partially restored, it is badly eroded by the weather.

Horloge Astronomique

Located in St. Jean cathedral, this 19th Century astronomical clock has 30,000 parts and 73 dials indicating 122 types of information such as seasons, the time in 16 different places in the world, tides, daylight, times for sunrise and sunset, and drives 20 automatons.


It is a military architecture masterpiece, built by Vauban under Louis XIV in 1674. The impressive citadel is perched 350 feet above the Doubs river, on one of the seven hills surrounding the city and protecting the Franche-Comte capital.
Through the centuries, it has been used as a military fortress, a prison and barracks.
It offers extensive views of the city and its surroundings. It extends over more than 10 hectares and encircles :
  • The Franche-Comte Museum, housing one of the richest local ethnology collections in France.
  • The Resistance and Deportation Museum.
  • The Museum of Natural History with an insectarium, a zoo and an aquarium.
  • Various cultural, scientific and historic exhibitions.

Hôtel de Champagney

Hôtel de Champagney is a 16th Century mansion. A passage through its arcaded inner courtyard leads to the Clos Barbizier Rose Garden, and Fort Griffon offering a good view of the city rooftops.

Musée des Beaux Arts

Located right in the heart of the old town, it is one of the oldest museums in France (1694). It boasts of its remodeled interior and rich collections of fine Italians and French paintings (Ingres, Courbet, Fragonard...)
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