Fancy a weekend getaway? Choose Besançon, a discreet city that's always a safe bet! In case you're not convinced, here are a few convincing arguments: a location just a 2-hour trip from Paris by TGV high-speed train and 1 hour from the Jura Mountains, a UNESCO-listed Vauban citadel, parks and gardens galore, a lovely riverside walk, and renowned museums like the Fine Arts Museum. In short, we defy you to not fall in love with Besançon!
Morning: The UNESCO-listed Vauban Citadel
Your weekend begins with a must-see, the Vauban Citadel. After all, you can't miss it. Listed by UNESCO, this fortress is worth a half-day visit all by itself.
- feast your eyes from the top of the ramparts,
- better understand Vauban's military ingenuity and the site's history after watching the multimedia display
- meet lots of animals at the zoo,
- get the shivers observing the microcosm in the insectarium,
- touch multicoloured koi in the aquarium
- be moved at the Resistance and Deportation Museum.
Panoramic view from the citadel ramparts
12 hectares of ramparts, walls, fortified towers and exceptional views over the city!
The Besançon Citadel aquarium
The touch tank invites visitors to touch the multicoloured koi, much to the delight of children!
The zoo is divided into 3 sections: primates - carnivores - birds.
Afternoon: Town centre
Next, head for the town centre for coffee on a café terrace in Place Granvelle, the square dotted with horse chestnut trees. There you'll see the statue of Victor Hugo, who came from Besançon. That's right, and you can even visit the house where he was born!
Afterwards, step inside the Granvelle Palace. This Renaissance gem houses the Time Museum which pays homage to local clockmaking traditions and the local passion for high-precision timekeeping that goes back a long way.
Between locally-made clocks and the Foucault pendulum, you won't have time to be bored!
Then go for a stroll to admire the city's elegant classical facades, pretty fountains and inner courtyards oozing with charm. The Grandes Heures Nature app proposes itineraries that take you exploring the entire town.
Place Granvelle for a coffee break on a green square
The Time Museum, to be visited without delay!
Pretty inner courtyard
Nature & Culture
Morning: parks and gardens
A morning of nature and fresh air right in the town! There's greenery everywhere in Besançon, the city that was named the "French biodiversity capital" in 2018. Micaud Promenade, Gare d’Eau park, Chamars park, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to walks! To fully appreciate just how green the city is, we recommend the river walk on the banks of the Doubs.
On foot or by riverboat, you'll realise that the city flourishes in an outstanding natural environment.
Afternoon: architecture and contemporary art
Do not miss the Cité des Arts! The building's architecture is as decidedly contemporary as the collections it houses from the FRAC (Regional Contemporary Art Collection). Outside, the Pixel terrace invites you to enjoy a well-deserved drink and a panoramic view of the river, the boats in the river port and the tree-covered hills.
Comté and Morbier cheese with drinks
The Fine Arts Museum
The museum devotes an entire room to the local artist Gustave Courbet, leader of the realist movement
The Fine Arts Museum
The archaeology section is worth taking a look at and includes details of a Gallo-Roman mosaic.
Find all these sites on the map
Burghard - German tourist
Besançon and the citadel are famous. We've seen Vauban on the Arte TV channel and really wanted to do this visit. We love this type of architecture, which doesn't exist in Germany. The roofs are also very picturesque. The scenery in this region is extremely beautiful and relaxing, and there aren't too many tourists. We'll definitely be back in any case!