To ensure the feline sculpture would not be seen as a provocation and risk disturbing the newfound peace with the Prussians, Bartholdi decided not to make the lion look too fierce. He also made a point of facing it westwards, so that it had its back turned towards Prussia.
Belfort has the Eurockéenes festival of course, but there's much more to this town! Imagine a remarkably well-restored city centre featuring pastel-coloured facades, a giant lion sculpted by Bartholdi, a museum of modern art and, to top it all, Mother Nature on the doorstep beckoning you to enjoy a breath of fresh air. In other words, that's right, Belfort is one of the region's charming attractions and it's surrounded by nature. So what are you waiting for?
Must-sees: town centre, Belfort lion and citadel
Morning in town
A little warm-up for your first day, walking in the elegant town centre of Belfort. Expect to see colourful facades, the banks of the deliciously-named River Savoureuse and, above all, the giant lion sculpture!
How could you miss the largest stone sculpture in France?! Accomplished in the late 19th century by the famous sculptor Bartholdi (creator of the Statue of Liberty in New York), the lion symbolises Belfort's heroic resistance to the Prussian troops.
Afternoon in the citadel above the town
Then take to the heights in the Vauban citadel and immerse yourself in the city's military and defensive past. From up there you'll enjoy the best view over the rooftops.
Besides the panoramic view, you can visit a history museum and another devoted to Bartholdi. Complete your trip by venturing into the "Grand Souterrain", an impressive 150-metre-long underground gallery transformed by spectacular lighting effects.
Beware of the lion, but only a little!
Museum and nature
Morning with Picasso, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger...
Begin your second day with a visit to the Modern Art Museum. In a former family home, you'll discover a treasure of 150 paintings, sketches and sculptures.
A priceless legacy left by art enthusiast Maurice Jardot to his hometown, and a beautiful way to share his passion for 20th-century artists (Picasso, Le Corbusier, Léger…), many of whom were his friends.
Afternoon amid nature
Just 10 minutes from the town centre, the drone of the traffic yields to the joyful ballet of dragonflies. Forges Lake, in its natural surroundings, has a few surprises in store: a walkway through the forest, viewpoint indicators and an observatory. For a larger-than-life immersion in the natural environment, head for the Ballon d’Alsace, the iconic summit of the Vosges mountains on the outskirts of the city, or the Jura Mountains just an hour's drive away.