department: doubs (25)
region: BOURGOGNE-franche-comtÉ

Besançon occupies a stunning site on a meander in the River Doubs; not surprisingly, this is the capital city of Franche Comté.

This is also the birthplace of Victor Hugo, and is renowned for its many museums and outstanding architecture. The city has a most beautiful historic centre. A broad horse-shoe of the river Doubs, "la Boucle", encircles the old town, while Vauban's imposing Citadelle blocks off the neck.


The historic centre presents a remarkable ensemble of classic stone buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages and others to the Spanish Renaissance.

Among the most visited historic monuments, all worthy of your attention, are:
·         several Roman remains
·         the 16th century Palais Granvelle
·         Vauban's citadel (Citadel of Besançon)
·         the Cathedral of St. Jean
·         several Spanish Renaissance-style buildings
·         the Église de la Madeleine
·         the river frontage

The historic centre lies within the 'boucle', while numerous shops and restaurants can be found on the Grande-Rue, near the bridges. The modern town lies across the river.

Half a day may well be sufficient time to explore Besançon, but a full day would allow a more leisurely appreciation, especially of its fine architecture. UNESCO added the citadel, the city walls and Fort Griffon to its list of World Heritage Sites in 2008, as part of the "Fortifications of Vauban" group.

© ATOUT FRANCE/CRT Franche-Comté/J. Ambacher

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Office de Tourisme et des Congrès,
Tel: 03 81 80 92 55

The tourist office arrange a number of themed tours around the town throughout the year, so it is always worth checking the website to see if anything is likely to be available at the time of your visit.