Besançon Travel Guide

  • Downtown, Besancon, FR
    Downtown, Besancon, FR
    by gubbi1
  • Citadell, Besancon, FR
    Citadell, Besancon, FR
    by gubbi1
  • Citadell, Besancon, FR
    Citadell, Besancon, FR
    by gubbi1

Besançon Things to Do

  • Walk the walls of the Citadel

    A great thing to do in the Citadel is to go up and walk along the two rampart walks on the tops of the walls.According to the Citadel’s website, these walks are almost 600 meters long (that’s about 650 yards, for those who are still heroically resisting a switch to the metric system), 5 to 6 meters wide (16 to 20 feet) and 15 to 20 meters high (49...

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  • Birth house of Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

    Victor Hugo was born in Besançon for the same reason that the poet Paul Verlaine was born in Metz. Their fathers were military officers who happened to be stationed in these out-of-the-way places in the eastern frontier provinces of France. Verlaine’s father was only a captain, whereas Hugo’s was (later) a general.Verlaine lived the first seven...

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  • Walking up to the Citadel

    To go up to the Citadel, I docked my VéloCité bike at bicycle station # 14, Jacobins, and walked up the nearby street called Rue du Chambrier.This narrow street goes up some stairs and then through a tunnel underneath the Hôtel du Chambrier, a medieval house which was re-built in the 18th century by a man named François Gaspard de Grammont, who was...

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  • Vauban’s Citadel

    More than a hundred meters above the old town of Besançon, Vauban’s Citadel covers eleven hectares on the top of Mont Saint-Etienne.Besançon was controlled by the Spanish until 1674, when it was besieged and conquered by a French army of about 70,000 men under Vauban’s direction. Under one of the Peace Treaties of Nijmegen in 1678, Besançon and the...

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  • Museum of the Resistance and Deportation

    One of the buildings in the Citadel is now used for the Museum of the Resistance and Deportation, dealing with the Second World War, 1939-1945, when the Nazis and their collaborators ruled France. The museum provides “an in-depth and emotional portrayal of this dark period of history.” They say that the choice of the Citadel for the location of...

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  • The Citadel from the boat

    After coming out of the tunnel our cruise boat Le Vauban turned right and continued upstream. Thanks to the locks in the tunnel we were now downstream from where we had started. From this part of the river we had some good views of the Citadel in the afternoon sun before circling around the city center.Additional photos: More views of the Citadel...

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  • Vauban statue

    After passing through the lower entrance to the Citadel grounds, you are greeted by a bronze statue of “Vauban on his construction site”. The statue was made by Pierre Duc, a prolific painter and sculptor from the Franche-Comté region who was born in 1945.On his website, the sculptor has some photos documenting the creation and installation of the...

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  • In the Citadel

    In the 17th and 18th centuries the Citadel was a place where future military officers were trained. The building in the middle of my first photo was where the Cadets du Roi lived, up to 600 of them. These were the sons of aristocratic families (typically the oldest sons) who were hoping for a glorious military career. (The younger sons often had to...

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  • Espace Vauban

    This “Space of Vauban” is located in one of the buildings in the Citadel, near the entrance. It currently consists of four exhibition rooms which “explore the life and times of Vauban and other important figures and places including Louis XIV, Versailles and Molière.” Some of the exhibits “retrace the two French conquests of Franche-Comté, the...

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  • Chapel in the Citadel

    For each of his citadels, Vauban designed a simple chapel so the soldiers could attend Sunday mass. The one in Besançon is dedicated to Saint Étienne (Saint Stephen), in memory of a church by that name that was demolished to make room for the citadel.Vauban himself was a practicing Catholic, but was not interested in converting those with different...

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  • Museum of the Franche-Comté

    Just to your right as you enter the Citadel, in the long building known as the Front Royal, is the Musée Comtois, a regional ethnological museum which “tells the story of the people and landscapes that shaped Franche-Comté over recent centuries.”The name Franche-Comté means “Free County”, not because the common people were free – they weren’t – but...

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  • The well

    To withstand a siege, it was essential to have a secure supply of water, so one of Vauban’s priorities was always to dig a deep well that would not go dry and could not be sabotaged from the outside.In 1681 he had this well dug in the center of the Citadel, near the chapel. At a depth of 132 meters it reached the water table. Water was lifted out...

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Besançon Hotels

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Besançon Restaurants

  • Wonderful food and atmosphere!

    I loved this place. It is a modest restaurant where for 7 euro they feed you very well. I ordered the menu shown in the picture and like it.

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  • Only for wines amateur

    Les Zinzins du Vin is a small and discret adress inn Besançon. You can walk near it without seeing it.But if you enter, it's very pretty and very friendly. Walls are covered with wine bins, with wines from all region of France, and often wines which are unknown, because the boss wants to make people discover different things.This guy also makes his...

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  • cheap and friendly

    It's a local restaurant in rue de bersot, off the rue des granges.from outside, it doesn't look great, but inside they ahve a jazzy atmosphere, with soft colors and 40's like painting... and of course very good oldies of jazz playing.it was sunday, so almost empty, so the service was great, we could talk easily and loosely with the boss, and we...

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Besançon Nightlife

  • Plenty of Nightlife Around Besak!

    Besancon has plenty to do at night. The cafes around centre ville stay open late enough to let your cafe creme turn into beer, wine or a cocktail. Pub De L'Etoile, on Grande Rue and just across Pont Battant, is one of the most confortable bars downtown. The owner is a great, friendly guy and the prices are the best in town. Farther down Grande Rue...

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  • Fête de la Musique

    Fête de la Musique is celebrated all over France, but this year (2003) my university decided to plan a trip to our jumelage town Besançon.I have never experienced such a Fête before, but I was quite curious. Anyway after a long and hot day, and the impressive Citadel most of us weren't 100 % keen on the Fête.Anyway the town offered a huge number of...

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  • Besançon Hotels

    28 Hotels in Besançon

Besançon Transportation

  • Shuttle train

    Since the TGV station Besançon Franche-Comté is located way out in the countryside, there is a shuttle train (navette) to get us into Besançon.As of 2014, the shuttle train runs nineteen times a day in each direction, with the journey taking an average of thirteen minutes. Usually there is one stop along the way. Second photo: Some long-distance...

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  • The new tramway

    When I visited Besançon in May 2014 the new tramway had been installed but was not yet operational, as only two of the nineteen trams had been delivered. They were already doing some test runs, but I did not see any of these during my visit.The new tramway is intended to be the backbone of public transportation for the entire “agglo” =...

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  • Bridge of Chardonnet

    This bridge across the Doubs is now reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, but it was originally built just before the Second World War as a single-track railway bridge to serve the commercial river port, which was still in use at that time.The bridge was finished in November 1939 but was partly blown up by the French army just seven months later,...

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Besançon Local Customs

  • Mouvement Franche-Compté

    In addition to the City Hall and the Church of Saint Pierre, the Square of the 8th of September also hosts the headquarters of an organization called the Mouvement Franche-Compté.In the spring of 2014 their shop window was full of signs denouncing the proposed merger of the Franche-Comté with the neighboring region of Burgundy (Bourgogne). The big...

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  • Visiting Besançon,ý discovered...

    Visiting Besançon,ý discovered that native people are very friendly and helpful.In Besançon there is a cultural feature,when a man meets with a woman or girl kisses from her &his cheek one man one woman,when a man meets with a man they shake hands.Later ý learnt that kissing and hugging is a particul cultural feature in France and the number of...

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  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

Besançon Warnings and Dangers

  • Loeffle's Profile Photo

    Thieves!!!

    by Loeffle Written Jul 4, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I'm sorry to say but Besançon (as well as most other bigger towns in Central Europe) is not 100 % safe when it comes to pickpocket.

    One member of our group became unlucky when his purse (including everything) got stolen only 10 minutes before we left town. Another member of our group said: "This couldn't have happened to me, it's his own fault!". But he's wrong! Remember the thieves are profs and often so quick that you don't even realize it.

    While the Citadel is safe (entrance money), the crowded parts of old-town are trouble areas when it comes to pickpocket. I can only advise you to minimize the risk by not having your camera, purse, mobile phone etc in your backpack. Also small bags "sitting" on the empty chair beside you in a cafe are an easy target.

    I had my money, id card, cash card, mobil phone hanging in front of my stomach (see picture on packing list), and never had any problems so far.

    Wouldn't that guy has gotten robbed, I'd say Besançon is a very nice, safe and charming city.

    Crowds in Grande Rue = DANGER!!!
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Festivals
    • Historical Travel

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Besançon What to Pack

  • Continental European Clothing...

    Leave your luggage and bags in a safe place! Otherwise you risk that you return home with less than you brought. It's best to use a small rucksack with something to drink and eat. Avoid having valuable stuff there (see warnings and dangers!). No matter which seasons, I recommend the "layer technique". Besançon has continental climate which means...

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  • Packing List

    It would be a great disappointment to forget your camera after walking to the top of the hill. There are great views from here in both directions - to the west you get an excellent panorama of the town, while to the east you can see the mountains and valley.

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Besançon Off The Beaten Path

  • Square Castan

    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...

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  • Rue Mégevand

    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...

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  • La City

    ”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...

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Besançon Favorites

  • But wait, there's more

    Part of the Museum and focused on teaching, the Zoo highlights the conservation of endangered animal species especially the big cats (lions of Asia, Siberian tigers), primates (marmosets, tamarins, lemurs, gibbons, colobus. .. more than 25 species in total) and birds (thirty aquatic species and tropical). They also have some stuff I was more...

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  • Besançon walks

    After a nice lunch by the river we climbed to the top of the hill overlooking the town. There was a great view of Besancon and the surrounding regions. I also remember there was a Castle at the top of this hill but as the entrance fee was 30F and we were still poor students, we had to forgo a visit. Next time!

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  • Geography of Franche-Comté:...

    Geography of Franche-Comté: Situated in the central Europe at the river Saône at the Jura Mountains The important towns of Franche-Comté: Besançon (Capital of Franche-Comté) Montbéliard Belfort Vesoul Dôle The Franche-Comté Region is the region where there is the most number of trees, in other words, greenery in France. Almost all the 'Boites des...

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Explore Deeper into Besançon
Birth house of the Lumière brothers
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Cathédrale Saint-Jean
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Palais Granvelle
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The Museum of Time: History
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Museum of Time: Clocks and watches
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Place Granvelle
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The theater of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux
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Church of St. Pierre
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City Hall and Tourist Office
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Place de la Révolution
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Cruising on the Doubs River
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Going through the locks
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Museum of Fine Arts & Archeology closed till 2017
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Synagogue
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Cruise boat Le Vauban
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Tunnel under the Citadel
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Fortified towers
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Cruise boat Victor Hugo
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Cité des Arts
Off The Beaten Path
Cité Universitaire
Off The Beaten Path
La Rodia concert hall
Off The Beaten Path
VéloCité
Transportation
Fort Griffon
Off The Beaten Path
Autocité
Transportation
Safety rules for the new tramway
Transportation
Cycling by the river
Transportation
House of the Tram
Transportation
TGV station Besançon Franche-Comté
Transportation
visit the amazing zoo in the citadel!
Things to Do
"La Citadelle"
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Hiking round Besançon
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Fountains
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Cycling in Besançon
Transportation
Besançon by boat
Transportation
Parking in Besançon
Transportation
Musée du Temps - Museum of Time
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La Citadelle
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Square Castan
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Staircases
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St Jean Cathedral
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Map of Besançon

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