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Besançon is the one of the main cities of the eastern French region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Thanks to its rich historical and cultural heritage and its unique architecture, Besançon has been labeled a “Town of Art and History” since 1986. Its fortifications, designed by Vauban, have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Established in a meander of the river Doubs, the city was already important during the Gallo-Roman era under the name of Vesontio, capital of the Sequani. Its geography and specific history turned it into a military stronghold, a garrison city, a political centre, and a religious capital.
The most historic center of the town is characterised by the broad horse-shoe of the river Doubs, “la Boucle” (map), which encircles the old town. Vauban’s imposing Citadelle blocks off the neck (map). The historic center presents an ensemble of classic stone buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages and others to the Spanish Renaissance.
Besançon’s old town, encircled by water, is where you can find all the most important buildings in the city. Thanks to its flourishing past, this district has the richest and most complete architectural heritage of the city, with a hundred remarkable buildings, dozens of statues as well as several bridges, squares and streets exceptional for their beauty.
The most important religious building dedicated to Catholic worship in Besançon is Saint John’s Cathedral (map), of Gothic architecture, dating from the 9th, 12th and 18th centuries. It has two apses and contains a masterpiece by Fra Bartolomeo, the painting of the Madonna in Glory with Saints painted in 1512.
Outside the old town, among the important Catholic buildings, is the Saint-Ferjeux basilica (map) of Romano-Byzantine style built on the cave of the patron saints of Besançon, Saint Ferjeux and Saint Ferréol. Notre-Dame des Buis, a 19th-century chapel, overlooks the city at an altitude of 491 metres.
Besançon has one of the finest city art galleries in France outside Paris. The Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology (Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie de Besançon, map), created in 1694, was the first museum created in France and predates The Louvre by almost a century. It has benefited from a remarkable series of bequests over time.
Among the museum’s treasures are a fine collection of classical antiquities and ancient Egyptian artifacts, as well as a very rich collection of paintings including works by Bellini, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Titian, Rubens, Jordaens, Ruisdael, Cranach, Zurbarán, Goya, Philippe de Champaigne, Fragonard, Boucher, David, Ingres, Géricault, Courbet, Constable, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso and many others.
The Musée du Temps (Museum of Time, map), inaugurated in 2002, was formerly the City’s History Museum. Located in the Granvelle Palace, its concept is unique in Europe, grouping watch collections (watches, sundials, hourglasses, all means of measuring time) and the funds of the history museum (paintings, engravings). In addition, three museums are grouped inside the Vauban citadel.
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• Public transport.
Guide to traveling to and getting around in the France.
BUS AND TRAM (ginko.voyage) – operates public transit including buses and two tram lines.
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BUS: sobus.travel — sells bus tickets for all the bus companies. Ouibus • Isilines • FlixBus • Eurolines • Megabus >> (*Intercity buses in France)
TRAIN: Trains are a great way to get around in France. For regional trains, schedules can be found at ter.sncf.com. You can get from pretty much anywhere to anywhere else by train.
For long distances, use the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, or High-speed train) on which reservations are obligatory. TGV • Thello • Ouigo. + RailEurope • Eurostar • Thalys • izy (Paris-Brussels) • TGV Lyria (Switzerland) • DB (Germany) • RENFE (Barcelona) >> (*Rail travel in France)
AIRPORT: parisaeroport.fr – Paris airport information. The main international airport, Roissy – Charles de Gaulle, is likely to be your port of entry if you fly into France from outside Europe.
FERRY: Brittany Ferries • P&O Ferries • DFDS Seaways
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see more on www.besancon-tourisme.com and boosteurdebonheur.besancon.fr
⇒ video source: Besançon Tourisme et Congrès / youtube.com /
• Useful websites.
Links to additional resources with useful information for planning your trip.
VISAS & IMMIGRATION.
How do you obtain a VISA for a stay in France – and what are the customs procedures? + Customs and Visas (france.fr)