Besançon Off The Beaten Path

  • Square Castan
    Square Castan
    by Nemorino
  • Square Castan
    Square Castan
    by Nemorino
  • School of Artillery
    School of Artillery
    by Nemorino

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Besançon

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    Square Castan

    by Nemorino Updated Nov 29, 2014

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    In Besançon it is easy to get the impression that local history began in the 16th century with Charles V, or in the 17th century with Vauban, but actually the city is much older than that. In Roman times it was called Vesontio, at least that’s what Julius Caesar called it in Book 1 of his Commentary on the Gallic Wars in 58 BC.

    Some remnants of ancient Vesontio, including eight Corinthian columns, can be seen at Square Castan. The square was named after the archeologist, librarian and local historian Auguste Castan (1833-1892), who systematically excavated the site starting in 1870.

    Address: Square Castan
    Directions: Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr
    VéloCité bicycle station 13, Victor Hugo
    Website: http://www.besac.com/tourisme-besancon/square-archeologique-castan/56.htm

    Next: Palais Granvelle

    Square Castan Square Castan Square Castan Square Castan
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    • Archeology

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    Rue Mégevand

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 26, 2014

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    In the eighteenth century, Besançon was one of five localities in France where a battalion of the Royal Artillery was stationed, the others being La Fère (a small town in Picardy in northern France), Metz, Strasbourg and Grenoble. In each of these places there was a School of Artillery for training the officers and other personell.

    In 1757 a sixth battalion was created in Auxonne, a town in Burgundy in eastern France, which is where Napoleon Bonaparte received his first training as a young lieutenant.

    Second photo: Façade of the School of Artillery at 4 rue Mégevand in Besançon.

    Third photo: A view of Rue Mégevand, with the School of Artillery on the right. This is now a one-way street for cars, but has a separate lane for bicycles coming from the other direction. (In the photo there is one car parked illegally on the sidewalk and the bicycle lane.)

    Fourth photo: The house at 27 rue Mégevand, one of several historic buildings on this street.

    Fifth photo: Here at 20 rue Mégevand is the entrance to the Grand Séminaire, built between 1670 and 1695 and now best known as the setting of the novel Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) by Stendhal (1783-1842). Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr.

    Website: http://www.racinescomtoises.net/?Ecole-d-artillerie-de-Besancon

    Next: Place de la Révolution

    School of Artillery School of Artillery Rue M��gevand 27 rue M��gevand Grande S��minare
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    La City

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 11, 2014

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    ”La City” is a large rounded glass and metal building (or group of buildings) by the Doubs River, at the west end of Canot Bridge. The walls of La City are rounded in such a way that they merge imperceptibly into the roof. I took the first two photos from the river boat.

    Second photo: La City and Cité Universitaire, as seen from the river boat as we passed beneath the Charles de Gaulle Bridge.

    Third photo: Building 4 of La City, with my VéloCité bicycle. La City was built from 1992 to 2006 and was intended as a business center, though as far as I can tell it has not turned out to be a very practical or prestigious address for companies. As of 2014 the complex does not appear to be fully occupied, despite its prominent location on the bank of the Doubs River. I have thus far not found any explanation of why they chose the peculiar half-French half-English name “La City” for this complex.

    Fourth photo: Part of La City is occupied by the Center of Applied Linguistics of the University of Franche-Comté. (Note the rusty places on the metal framework of the elevator shaft.) There is also at least one hotel in La City.

    Fifth photo: From up close, La City does not look energy-efficient, nor does it give the impression of being a particularly sturdy or permanent building. It already looks bedraggled, just a few years after completion.

    Address: 3 Avenue Louise Michel, 25000 Besançon
    Directions: At the west end of Canot Bridge.
    VéloCité bicycle station 9 (La City). Tramway station Canot.
    Website: http://www.lamboleyarchitectesoffice.com/la-city-centre-d-affaires-besancon.html

    Next: Cité Universitaire

    La City from the boat La City and Cit�� Universitaire La City with my V��loCit�� bike Center of Applied Linguistics La City, building 5
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    Cité des Arts

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 11, 2014

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    This is another building that I was curious about because I had seen it from the river boat, so I went back the next day on a VéloCité bike for a closer look.

    It turns out to be the Cité des Arts et de la Culture (Center of the Arts and Culture, often just referred to as Cité des Arts), which was built from 2010 to 2013 by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma on the site of the former commercial port of Besançon.

    The Cité des Arts consists of two buildings joined by a monumental roof.

    Second photo: This end of the Cité des Arts houses the FRAC (not the FNAC but the FRAC).
    FRAC stands for Fonds régional d’art contemporain, which is a regional depository of contemporary art, founded in 1982.

    Third photo: This end of the Cité des Arts houses the Conservatory of Grand Besançon, with an auditorium and eighty ultra-modern teaching and practice rooms for instruction in music, dance and theater skills.

    Fourth photo: Le Pixel is a restaurant in the middle of the Cité des Arts, in a corner of the FRAC building. The name of the restaurant refers to the roof of the whole complex, which is covered by “pixels of vegetation, aluminum, glass and photovoltaic panels.”

    Address: 12 Avenue Arthur Gaulard, 25000 Besançon
    Directions: By the Doubs River near Brégille Bridge.
    The nearest VéloCité bicycle stations are 21 (Saint Paul) and 14 (Jacobins).
    Phone: +33 3 81 87 87 00
    Website: http://www.dezeen.com/2013/06/12/besancon-art-centre-and-cite-de-la-musique-by-kengo-kuma-and-associates/ http://www.citedesartsetdelaculture.fr/


    Next: Fort Griffon

    From the boat FRAC Conservatory
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    Cité Universitaire

    by Nemorino Written Oct 10, 2014

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    This student residence hall was built in 1932 and claims to be “the first university residence hall of France.”

    By this I think they mean it was the first one that was owned and developed by a university. The Cité Universitaire in Paris received its first students in 1925, so it is certainly older, but it was developed by private donors from all over the world rather than by the university itself.

    From 2008 to 2011 the Cité Universitaire in Besançon was thoroughly renovated and modernized, while preserving the building’s original architectural features from 1932.

    Second photo: Since the Cité Universitaire is located directly on the Doubs River, it is easy to see from the boat.

    Third photo: Entrance A, the main entrance of the Cité Universitaire.

    Fourth photo: The new tramway station “Canot” is located directly in front of the main entrance of the Cité Universitaire.

    Address: 73 quai Veil Picard, 25000 Besançon
    Directions: VéloCité bicycle station 9 (La City).
    Tramway station: Canot.
    Phone: 03 81 65 78 20
    Website: http://www.crous-besancon.fr/

    Next: La Rodia concert hall

    Cit�� Universitaire From the boat Entrance A Tram station Canot
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    La Rodia concert hall

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 10, 2014

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    On our river boat tour of Besançon, the captain pointed out this building and said it was a place to go for contemporary music.

    The next day I went over on a VéloCité bike to have a closer look at the building. It turned out to be a concert hall (for rock, pop, hip-hop, etc.) called La Rodia, which was opened in January 2011.

    In addition to the main concert hall which has room for up to nine hundred people, La Rodia also includes a “club” which seats 320. There are also two rehearsal studios with the possibility of making recordings.

    They chose the name La Rodia because the Rhodia chemical company used to have a factory on this site.

    Address: 4 avenue de Chardonnet, 25000 Besançon
    Directions: GPS 47° 13′ 51″ North, 6° 02′ 21″ East
    Location on OpenStreetMap
    Phone: 03 81 87 86 00
    Website: http://www.larodia.com/

    Next: Bridge of Chardonnet

    La Rodia from the boat La Rodia Orientation in La Rodia
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    Fort Griffon

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 7, 2014

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    This fort is on a hill at the northwest end of Besançon, on the opposite side of the city from the Citadel. It was named after an Italian engineer and architect called Jean Griffoni, who built a small fort on this site in 1595. (So it was not named after the mythical animal called the griffin, as I had incorrectly assumed.)

    In 1680 Vauban completely re-designed and re-built Griffoni’s fort, as part of his overall plan for the fortifications of Besançon.

    Fort Griffon was used by the French Army until the Second World War. Since then it has been used by various institutions for the training of teachers. Though the sign in the first photo still says IUFM, for Institut universitaire de formation des maîtres, the official name was changed in 2013 to École supérieure du professorat et de l’éducation (ESPE).

    Second photo: Here at the gate to Fort Griffon they were advertising an exhibition, which I did not see because I arrived too late in the evening.

    Third photo: From Fort Griffon you have a view of Besançon and the Citadel, which is on a much higher hill at the opposite end of the city.

    Fourth photo: Near Fort Griffon there were some street paintings of surveillance cameras, with the question: “Liberty is what for you?” The second camera seems to be connected directly to a person’s brain.

    Fifth photo: Another street painting near Fort Griffon shows four women with very long hair, lying on top of each other by some public steps just below the fort. This one was painted in 2012 for the Bien Urbain Festival by a Spanish woman who goes by the name of Hyuro. She is a prolific street artist who comes from Valencia and specializes in murals about women, often showing them in odd situations or protesting their assigned roles in society. On her website there are numerous photos of her murals, including several photos of this one.

    Address: Fort Griffon - 25000 Besançon
    Directions: From the city center, walk across Battant Bridge and then up the hill on Rue de la Madeleine and Rue des Frères Mercier. The fort is at the top of the hill. (The Rue des Frères Mercier was named after two teen-age brothers, Pierre and Jean Mercier, who were killed by the Nazis in 1944 for their activities in the French Resistance.)

    Next: VéloCité

    Fort Griffon Gate to Fort Griffon View from Fort Griffon Street art near Fort Griffon Street art by Hyuro, near Fort Griffon
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    • Historical Travel
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    Picnics

    by barryg23 Updated Jan 18, 2007

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    Have a picnic beneath the bridge. On a sunny day, there is nothing better than a picnic lunch outdoors - baguettes, red wine, cheese, fruit, etc - all bought from the local Monoprix. I was all set for a long afternoon siesta after that but Susan insisted we do some touristy stuff.

    By the river

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    Fountains ...

    by Loeffle Written Jun 29, 2003

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    Many fountains can be found in Besançon. Small ones, big ones, historical and modern ones. Most of them are from the 16th and 18th century though.

    Especially Grande Rue (if you walk from Place de Huit Semtembre to Cathedral Saint-Jean) has many fountains to offer.

    Discover them on your own or take a guide with you ...

    Fountain on Grande Rue
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    • Archeology

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    Stairways ...

    by Loeffle Written Jun 29, 2003

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    Besançon is known for its many hidden stairways. The one on the picture is located on Grande Rue, just after Place du Huit Semptembre on the left side.

    Anyway, they are hard to find because from the outside you see just an ordinary door. Even natives might not know where they can be found. A good guide is of help!

    Another one we visited was in the Northern corner of Place Victor Hugo.

    Stairway on Grande Rue
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    Square Castan and Porte Noire

    by Loeffle Written Jun 29, 2003

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    Square Castan (named after the archaeologist responsible for the excavations in the 19th century) is represented by a vast, semicircular unidentified building with the remains of a theatre and a nymphaeum.

    An idea of the size of the original edifice may be gained from the eight Corinthian Roman columns which have been re-erected on the edge of rue de la Convention.

    Today parts of the area are used by shelterless people as a sleeping place during summer.

    If you walk towards Cathedral Saint-Jean or the Citadel, look to your left before passing through Porte Noire, otherwise you might overlook Square Castan.

    Porte Noire is a triumphal arch, probably built in the 2 nd century in the reign of Marcus Aurelius is particularly remarkable for the fine proportions of the central bay and for its richly sculpted decoration in which allegorical, mythological and military themes abound. .

    Square Castian
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    Palais de Justice

    by Loeffle Written Jun 27, 2003

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    The Palais de Justice lies behind the Hôtel de Ville (and therefore a bit hidden) and was once part of the same building. It was built in 1585 by the architect Hugues Sambin.

    Above the porch, enclosed by beautiful wrought-iron gates , stand two statues representing Justice and Strength.

    Inside the building, the room once occupied by the Parliament of Franche-Comté, is decorated with exquisite Louis XV woodwork and a ceiling painted by P. Gervais in 1909.

    Palais de Justice
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    The underground of...

    by Pierre_Rouss Written Oct 19, 2002

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    The underground of Franche-Conté
    A big part of the Franche Conté includes its underground world, with its 4000 caves and tunnels, where nature permitted itself all the fantaisies.
    Here Les grottes d'Osselle, 20 km south of Besancon.

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    La Source de la Loue

    by Pierre_Rouss Written Oct 19, 2002

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    La Source de la Loue
    Spontaneous spring rushing out of the mountain side with no apparent origin. I am not even sure people know where the water is coming from, the underground of the region worst than a swiss cheese.

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    Cascade du Hérisson

    by Pierre_Rouss Written Oct 19, 2002

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    Cascade du Hérisson
    Beautiful natural spring that flows from nowhere. It's always green and moist. The surrounding forest is so quiet, you can hear your hearthbeat.

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