Besançon, the capital city of the Franche-Comté region is located in the north-east quarter of France on the Doubs River, at the edge of the Jura Mountains, at 100 kilometres east of Dijon in Burgundy (Bourgogne) and 125 km northwest of Lausanne in Switzerland.
Originally established in the 1st century BC by the Romans, the city is first recorded in 58 BC as Vesontio, in the Book I of Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico. During the 4th century, whilst under the jurisdiction of a bishop, the letter B took the place of the V and in 1243, the city name became Besançon.
Most of the houses in the city center date back to the middle ages or to the period of the Spanish Renaissance (15th - 16th Centuries). The city center is compact and mainly pedestrian with marvelous cathedrals and palaces. The Palais Granvelle built in the 16th century and hosts the museum of time and the neoclassical 18th century Église de la Madeleine cathedral.
The Saint-Jean Cathédrale (Saint John's Cathedral), dates back to the 9th century, rebuilt during the 12th and the 18th centuries in the Gothic architecture style. It displays amazing murals and renaissance paintings. The astronomical clock located in the cathedral’s clock tower provides 122 indications including years, seconds, time of the sunset and sunrise and much more. The clock chimes daily, at noon and the 21 animated figures that perform various biblical scenes depending on the time.
The birthplace of Victor Hugo is located at 140 Grande Rue is a permanent exhibition, dedicated to the great writer.
The well-preserved Citadel of Besancon dates back to the 18th century and is a fine example of military architecture; designed by the military architect Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, a Louis XIV’s famous engineer. Placed on the very top of mount Saint-Etiennet, the Citadel overlooks the Old City Center and offers spectacular views of the nearby villages, mountains and the beautiful curve of the Doubs River as it flows around the city. The Citadel is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Around the ramparts of the Citadel there is a pretty little zoo whose primary objective is the conservation and reproduction of endangered species.
This region of Franche-Comté borders Switzerland and shares much of its architecture, cuisine, and culture with its neighbour. The landscape consists of rolling cultivated fields, dense pine forest, and rampart-like mountains, between the Vosges range of mountains to the north and the Jura range to the south. The Jura mountains being more accessible than the Alps, are France's first cross-country skiing area. It is also a superb place to hike, and offer some fine nature trails on the more gentle slopes. The region’s lakes are perfect for swimming during summer. The summits of Haut Jura have wonderful views of the Alps and across the Lake (Léman) Geneva.
- Beautiful Franche-Comté
- Introduction to the region
- Franche-Comté companies
- Exceptional Franche-Comté