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  City of Besancon  
Panoramic image of Besancon

Besancon - Encircled in a loop of the Doubs river, the ancient fortress town of Besancon is the capital of Franche-Comte. It is an historic town set in exceptionally beautiful surroundings. Its hilltop citadel built by Vauban is perched above the old town and offers an extensive view. Besancon is the economic and cultural pole of the region.

Besancon old city

Besancon old town - The old town abounds in architectural marvels and has a profusion of monuments, convents, churches, towers, ramparts, mansions with elegant facades dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries among old houses with balconies, tiled roofs and chimneys. A walk along the main street "Grande Rue" reveals varying aspects of the town's past.

Panoramic image of Besancon old city on river bank

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

Panoramic Image of Doubs river bank

Besancon Battant quarter - On the opposit side of the Vauban quay, on the bank of the Doubs river, the "Quartier Battant" (Battan quarter) with the Sainte-Madeleine church is one of the oldest parts of Besancon and used to be the wine-growers' district.

Besancon city center

City center - Besancon has an attractive "centre ville" located inside the loop of the Doubs river. The Roman "Grande Rue" remains the oldest and main street, where most of the action is.

Main entry point to Besancon old city

La Boucle de Besancon - A loop of the Doubs river. Here is the main entry point into the old town and city center, the Roman "Grande Rue" (birthplace of Victor Hugo) remains the oldest and main street. A lively and active lifestyle dominated by the young population is apparent day and night in the crowded shops, cafes and restaurants of this district.

Old buildings in Besancon city center.

City center - Main street "Grande Rue" in the old city. Numerous old buildings bear witness to the rich past of Besancon

Panoramic view of Besancon Vauban fortress

Citadelle - 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. 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.

Image of St. Jean cathedral and Vauban fortress in Besancon

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.

Palais Granvelle in Besancon

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.

View of Hotel de Champagney mansion in Besancon

Hotel de Champagney - A 16th century mansion. A passage through its arcaded inner courtyard leads to the Clos Barbizier, rose garden offering a good view of the city rooftops.

Doubs river in Besancon

Besancon - The city manages a happy blend of ancient and modern architecture, from Roman works to postmodern buildings such as the international Center for Applied Linguistics. The many parks and gardens along the river banks and surrounding hills give the city an instant charm.

Besancon International Center for Applied Linguistics

International Center for Applied Linguistics - Besancon has first-class sports facilities, It has an important university, a Center of intensive language studies, drawing students from all over the world.

Open Air Museum of Comtoise Houses

Besancon surrounding - Open Air Museum of Comtoise Houses, 15 Km (10 miles) from Besancon, in Nancray, this open air museum illustrates how houses styles have evolved over the ages in this region. On view are 35 country homes, dismantled and rebuilt stone by stone, in their natural setting. The traditions of that region are reflected in the furniture and agricultural tools displayed.

Panoramic image of Loue valley

Besancon surrounding - Loue valley, the most interesting and picturesque part of the valley is located between the source of the Loue river and the town of Ornans. The water flows along a deep wooded gorge. The Loue, one of the most beautiful rivers in France, is a canoeing and fishing paradise. Scenic points offer splendid views over the area.

Image of Loue river source

Besancon surrounding - Loue river source.

Panoramic Image of town of Ornans

Ornans - 26 Km (16 miles) from Besancon, it is one of the most picturesque towns in Franche-Comte, built on stilts along the Loue river. The old downtown houses seem to huddle over the water. It is the birthplace of Gustave Courbet, French realist painter, and his native house is now a museum. The National Fishing and Water Habitat museum is a rich source of information and is home to a variety of exhibitions.

Besancon surroundings - Ski, with webs of trails in the northern Jura mountains range.


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