Besançon Travel Guide

  • Besançon
    by jorgejuansanchez
  • Besançon
    by jorgejuansanchez
  • The Roman arc and the Cathedral
    The Roman arc and the Cathedral
    by jorgejuansanchez

Besançon Highlights

  • Pro
    Loeffle profile photo

    Loeffle says…

     charming old town, lovely located, wonderful citadel 

  • Con
    thinking profile photo

    thinking says…

     Lots of fatting German food! 

  • In a nutshell
    Corallee profile photo

    Corallee says…

     Charming town 

Besançon Things to Do

  • visit the amazing zoo in the citadel!

    the rare Bald Ibis, Australian rock wallabies, Moroccan goats, lions and tigers!, lemur of all sorts of types, baboons and monkeys....Good info boards including info on where the creature has originated from

  • "La Citadelle"

    Museum of the Resistance and Deportation A poignant witness to this period of history20 rooms spread over two floors examine, with the help of photographs,writings, documents and original objects, themes linked to thesecond world war; Nazism and its origins, the war and the Vichy regime, the deportation, the resistance inFranche-Comté, in France,...

  • Hiking round Besançon

    Besançon is a great destination for hikers. The old city is actually on the edge of the town, and there is an easy circular hiking trail round the loop of the river Doubs, taking you through a 19th century canal tunnel beneath the Citadelle. From there, you can get out easily onto some great out-of town hiking trails, well signposted by the city...

  • Fountains

    There are several nice fountains in Besançon, one on the Jean Cornet Square. The fountain was build in 1900 and replaced another fountain that was destroyed. The text "Utinam" which you find under the fronton is the motto of the town, also found as "Plût à Dieu" on other buildings.Another nice fountain is on the Place de la Révolution.

  • Musée du Temps - Museum of Time

    The Museum of Time is located in the Granvelle palace, which was build in the 16th century.It's showing some nice clocks from different times and there are exhibitions about other things that have something to do with time (for example heart pacemaker), but unfortunately all information is in French only. Also there's so much space, but it appeared...

  • La Citadelle

    The citadel was designed by Vauban for Louis XIV and was build between 1674 and 1711. I have to admit that I hadn't heard the name Vauban before, but suddenly I came across it pretty often. The citadel together with some other Vauban fortifications were recently added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.The citadel today houses several...

  • Square Castan

    On the Square Castan you'll find archeological remains from the Roman times. It is named after the archeologist who started excations there in1870. Earlier, there had been the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church. Today you will here see some Roman-Corinth columns and a semi-circular place which presumably has been a Roman theatre. There's an information...

  • Staircases

    In some courtyards, you'll find staircases, outside the building, to save space. It's not easy to find them unless you know where to look. Also often the courtyards are behind a door and we weren't sure if we can enter it nevertheless. But we found one which easily can be viewed as the courtyard is open, it's in street "Rue des Granges", house...

  • St Jean Cathedral

    The cathedral was build in the 12th century and was rebuild several times throughout the times. The entrance to the cathedral is on the north side, and on the west side you will find the entrance to the Astronomical Clock. The church can be visited for free, but for the Astronomical Clock there are guided tours to visit it.

  • Besancon citadel

    The citadel was built for Louis XIV between 1688 & 1711. It sits at the top of Rue des Fusilles and is very well preserved. You can reach it through a delightful ilttle park - a great place for children to run off a bit of steam.Inside the 15-20m thick walls there are 3 museums : Musee Comtois (local culture), Musee d'Histoire Naturelle (Natural...

  • Cathedrale St. Jean & Horloge...

    Cathedrale St. Jean is predominantly 18th cntury. It sits just below the citadel on Rue de la Convention and houses the Horloge Astronomique (clock) which has 300 moving parts inside it.There are 7 guided tours, daily. We opened a door and went inside... not realising that we were actually sneaking in because we were not on one of these tours and...

  • The Numpty Train

    Another city, another Numpty Train.... with the children getting a little tired of being walked around... the ride was inevitable.I did not enjoy this ride. Besancon has a large student population and where ever we went in the Numpty Train we were smirked at!!! And the driver was miserable!The only good thing on our humiliating ride up to the...


Besançon Hotels

See all 27 Hotels in Besançon

Besançon Restaurants

  • 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...

  • 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 was sunday, so almost empty, so the service was great, we could talk easily and loosely with the boss, and we...

  • Wine and cheese

    The wineyard Henri Maire in Arbois. Their 'Vin Fou' is a excellent sparkling wine, as good as most Champagne. The only reason they can't call it Champagne is because it's not from that region. Try to taste the Edel de Cléron, excellent soft cheese made in Franche-Comté.Also, try to find the 'Écorces de sapin', excellent as well, but it might walk...


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...

  • 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...

  • Besançon Hotels

    27 Hotels in Besançon

    24 Reviews and Opinions

Besançon Transportation

  • Cycling in Besançon

    In the town you'll find several "cycling stations" where you can rent bycicles. You can take a bicycle from one station and return it in another station. For this you need a ticket number and personal code, or on some stations you also can pay with credit card. You can check in the tourist information for more details and also get a map with the...

  • Besançon by boat

    The town center of Besançon is located in the loop of the Doubs river, with a 375 m long ship tunnel under the fortress hill. That makes it possible to drive a circuit around the town center by boat - only that the lock at Moulin Saint-Paul was out of order already since some time when we've been there. Also near that lock is a place to moor in...

  • Parking in Besançon

    There are many car parks which are signposted very well, even showing the number of free spaces.The two little car parks at the eastern end of the tunnel are free, but half of them are private, so it’s not easy to get a parking space there. We therefore drove in direction center and easily found a space at the parking St Paul next to the river...


Besançon Local Customs

  • exotique18's Profile Photo

    by exotique18 Written Aug 24, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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 kisses from cheek change according to cities.In some cities the number of kisses may be three or four!

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Besançon Warnings and Dangers

  • Loeffle's Profile Photo
    Crowds in Grande Rue = DANGER!!!

    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.

    Related to:
    • Festivals
    • Museum Visits
    • 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...

  • 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

  • Picnics

    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.

  • Fountains ...

    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 ...

  • Stairways ...

    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...


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...

  • 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!

  • 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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