Besançon, located in the eastern part of France, is a historic city known for its rich heritage, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant culture. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Besançon:
1. Citadel of Besançon
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This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit attraction. The Citadel offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding Doubs River. Explore the impressive fortifications, visit the zoo within the Citadel, and learn about the city’s history at the Museum of Resistance and Deportation.
2. Musée du Temps
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Situated in the Palais Granvelle, the Musée du Temps is a fascinating museum dedicated to horology and the measurement of time. Discover an extensive collection of timepieces, ranging from ancient sundials to modern watches. The museum also features temporary exhibitions and interactive displays.
3. Astronomical Clock
Don’t miss the Astronomical Clock in the Palais Granvelle. This intricate clock dates back to the 19th century and showcases various astronomical features. Catch the clock’s hourly display, where different figurines and mechanisms come to life.
4. Promenade Granvelle
Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the Promenade Granvelle, a beautiful park with manicured lawns, fountains, and flowerbeds. Take in the tranquil atmosphere, have a picnic, or simply unwind amidst nature.
5. Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology
Located in a stunning 18th-century palace, the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology houses a remarkable collection of art and artifacts. Explore exhibits ranging from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary art pieces.
6. River Cruise
Experience the beauty of Besançon from the water by taking a leisurely boat cruise along the Doubs River. Enjoy panoramic views of the city’s skyline and the surrounding lush landscapes.
7. Maison Victor Hugo
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Visit the birthplace of the renowned French writer Victor Hugo, which has been converted into a museum. Explore the rooms where Hugo spent his early years and learn about his life and works.
8. Parc Micaud
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city at Parc Micaud. This picturesque park offers beautiful walking paths, a lake where you can rent paddle boats, and plenty of green spaces for relaxation and picnics.
9. Taste the Local Cuisine
Don’t forget to savor the local gastronomy in Besançon. Indulge in regional specialties like saucisse de Morteau (smoked sausage), Comté cheese, and Cancoillotte (a creamy cheese). Visit local restaurants and cafés to experience the flavors of the region.
10. Visit the Museum of the Resistance and Deportation
Gain insights into the city’s significant role in the French Resistance during World War II. The museum showcases artifacts, photographs, and personal stories that highlight the bravery and sacrifices of the resistance fighters.
11. Take a Boat Ride on the Doubs River
Explore the picturesque Doubs River by taking a boat ride. Enjoy the scenic views as you cruise along the tranquil waters, passing by charming villages and lush green landscapes. It’s a wonderful way to relax and appreciate the natural beauty of the region.
12. Explore the Jardins des Sens
This sensory garden offers a unique experience for visitors. It features different themed gardens, each appealing to one of the five senses. Wander through fragrant flower beds, listen to the sounds of nature, and discover tactile and visual installations that engage your senses.
13. Discover the Natural History Museum
The Museum of Natural History in Besançon is a treat for nature enthusiasts. It houses a diverse collection of specimens, including fossils, minerals, and taxidermy exhibits. Learn about the region’s flora and fauna and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world.
14. Attend a Performance at the Franche-Comté National Theater
Immerse yourself in the vibrant performing arts scene of Besançon by catching a show at the Franche-Comté National Theater. From theater performances to dance and music events, this renowned venue offers a diverse range of cultural experiences.
15. Visit the Church of Saint-Pierre
This magnificent church, dating back to the 13th century, is a true architectural gem. Admire the Gothic-style façade, intricate stained glass windows, and the grand interior. Take a moment to appreciate the peaceful ambiance and the stunning craftsmanship.
16. Explore the Marché Battant
If you’re a fan of fresh produce, local delicacies, and vibrant markets, head to the Marché Battant. This lively market offers a wide array of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and other regional products. It’s a great place to mingle with locals, sample delicious food, and soak up the lively atmosphere.
17. Attend the Besançon International Music Festival
If you happen to visit in September, don’t miss the renowned Besançon International Music Festival. This prestigious event showcases talented musicians and orchestras from around the world, offering a diverse program of classical music concerts and performances.
18. Experience the Nightlife
Besançon has a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. Enjoy a night out with friends, sipping on local wines or craft beers, and immerse yourself in the energetic atmosphere of the city after dark.
Places and Things To Do