Besançon, a city of art and history
Wherever you look, from its towers to its fortifications and garrisons, to its convents and churches—its history and art call you to explore more.
From the heights of the Citadel’s ramparts, take in the old town centre with its winding streets enclosed by the Doubs River; then go down into the centre to discover its architectural treasures.
The Citadel, a Vauban masterpiece, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the most beautiful citadels in France.
It towers 100 metres above the old city. Stand on its ramparts for spectacular panoramic views.
It is a testimony to history and comes alive through its many exciting exhibits and tours.
UNESCO World Heritage List
Vauban, military engineer for Louis XIV, designed and built the Citadel, one of the most beautiful in France. The Citadel was placed on the World Heritage List in 2008.
Additional must-sees : the Vauban quais along the river and fortifications at the ‘gare d’eau’ (old water port)
The Centre of the Arts
The building, finished in 2013, was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who envisioned it as “the place where nature and the city meet, where inhabitants and river banks meet and where people meet with culture in its multiple forms”.
It houses a modern art collection and the Regional Conservatory. Its programmes include exhibitions, dance, theatre, music and lectures.
Birthplace of Victor Hugo
No. 140, Grande Rue, where Hugo was born, is not your usual museum. It is a place for reflection and for understanding the causes which Hugo held close to his heart. There are exhibitions and displays that take you back to the events that marked his times and his life. Unlike the other museums which celebrate the place where he lived, Besançon has made this one a place which makes Hugo come alive personally and shows the battles that he fought.
The Museum of Time
Housed in the sumptuous 16th century Granvelle Palace, The Museum of Time takes you on the scientific, technological and human adventure of the measurement of time—from the race for precision to the electronic shock of the 20th century. A must-see : the Foucault Pendulum from above: and watch the earth turn!
The Astronomical Clock
The clock is in a tower in Saint John’s Cathedral. It is one of the masterpieces of its kind. Built by master watchmaker Auguste-Lucien Vérité towards the end of the 19th century, it has 30,000 mechanical working parts and shows 122 indications which are all interdependant—the time: local and at 20 locations around the world, dates, seasons, signs of the zodiac, dates and times of tides …