Visit Besançon

A city that is both modern and atypical

Besançon, capital of the Franche-Comté region in northern France, has certainly kept its charm over time. At the gates of Germany and Switzerland, its geography and unique history have successively turned Besançon from a military stronghold into a garrison town, then from a political hub to a religious capital.

Nestled in a bend of the Doubs River, Besançon boasts 2,408 hectares of green space and was proclaimed France's first ville verte, or green city. Quality of life is key here : beautiful gardens, parks, and shaded waterfront promenades give locals the green light to go outside and play.

Also listed as a City of Art and History, Besançon's rich architectural heritage helps tell the story of its past. Its fortifications, part of the network of Vauban's major sites, have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage since 2008.

A Timeless Storyteller

Culturally speaking, Besançon has five museums, several independent and national theatres, a City of Arts and Culture, and many art galleries.

It is also renowned for its watchmaking, a savoir-faire that has earned it the label of Capital of Time.

Do not miss

  • The Besançon Citadel is one of Vauban's most beautiful fortified citadels. It stands 100 metres overlooking the old town, offering spectacular panoramic view. An important tourist and cultural destination, it regroups several compelling venues : the Museum of French Resistance and Deportation retraces the themes of the Second World War ; the Comtois Museum presents regional arts and traditions ; the Vauban Centre ; and the Natural History Museum, which illustrates the biodiversity and preservation of many endangered species in its various spaces (zoo, aquarium, insectarium, noctarium, and evolution trail) ;
  • The Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology is France's first museum, created in 1694, nearly a century before the Louvre ;
  • The Museum of Time recounts the know-how of Besançon and Franche-Comté watchmakers. It also regroups several clock-making collections ;
  • The Astronomical Clock of the Saint Jean Cathedral was built with a precise and complex mechanism of over 30,000 parts and 11 movements ;
  • Visit Victor Hugo's birthplace and childhood home.


  • GéNéRiQ Festival, organised in concert with Dijon, Mulhouse and Belfort, explores the latest musical trends such as electro clubbing, Mediterranean surf, free metal, electro blues… (November)
  • Electro-Clique, an electronic music festival (end of May, beginning of June)
  • La Foire Comtoise, a ten-day fair featuring a different guest country each year (May)
  • The Festival de musiques anciennes de Besançon-Montfaucon showcases early music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, with concerts played on real period instruments (end of May, beginning of June)
  • Jazz in Franche-Comté, a jazz and improvised music festival (end of June, beginning of July)
  • The International Music Festival, a major symphonic and operatic event (September)
  • Lumières d’Afrique, an African film festival (November)


Besançon shares all the culinary greatness the Franche-Comté region.

  • Cheese : comté, morbier, mont d’or, cancoillotte, bleu de Gex…
  • Charcuterie : Morteau and Montbéliard sausages, smoked ham from Haut-Doubs, Brési beef…
  • Traditional dishes : comté tart, trout with blue cheese, trout in yellow wine sauce, fattened chicken with morel mushrooms, yellow wine coq au vin, chicken à la Comtoise, chicken à la cancoillotte, Comtois stew, Comtois veal cutlet, comté cheese fondues...
  • Wines and spirits : Jura wines, yellow wines, Jura crémant, aniseed Pontarlier aperitif, Jura macvin, or wine liqueur…

Getting there

  • By car : 405 km from Paris (3H45) ; 137 km from Lausanne (1H45) ; 91 km from Belfort and Dijon (1H00)
  • By train : 2H30 from Paris by TGV. The TGV Rhin-Rhône makes 36 stops in Besançon : 26 at the TGV station and 10 at the Viotte station. TER shuttles provide transfers between the two stations. There are also four connections with the Mediterranean.


Office de Tourisme et des Congrès de Besançon
Hôtel de Ville
Place du Huit Septembre
Tél : +33 (0)3 81 80 92 55
Mail : (External link)