Nestled at the foot of green hills, in a meander of the Doubs, Besançon is a city on a human scale, where life is good. Ideal for a city break, it satisfies our desires for culture - Museum of Time, Museum of Fine Arts, citadel… .- as well as for nature, omnipresent in the city and beyond. A marvelous playground, to be explored on foot, by bike, but also along the water, by canoe! A young and dynamic city, Besançon also promises a good time. There are many friendly addresses: café terraces by the water, good restaurants, designer boutiques, markets ... Something to really disconnect, all just 2h30 by train from the capital ...
An exceptional setting: the seven hills and the Boucle, dominated by the Citadel
The city in the countryside, this is a perfect summary of Besançon ... Seven wooded hills surround this charming city of Art and History of 100 inhabitants. The center is crossed by the Doubs: the river comes here to form a loop, which has also given the historic center its nickname “Loop”. It is not uncommon to see kingfishers right in the center! When we tell you that nature is omnipresent here ...
To measure all the beauty of the city, all you have to do is gain height: go to the top of the famous Citadel of Besançon, overlooking the city, about a hundred meters away. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is of course one of the masterpieces of Vauban, a famous engineer under Louis XIV. The Tour des Remparts offers breathtaking panoramas. From up there, it's really obvious: the Doubs draws a big loop in the landscape!
And we are not yet at the end of our surprises: the citadel is paired with a zoological garden, which occupies a quarter of the surface (12 hectares in total). Primates, tigers… it is home to 70 species of mammals and birds.
This vertiginous visit whetted our appetites… Still within the citadel, we gladly deploy our picnic tablecloth on the lawn of Saint-Etienne park, for a snack with a view of the city and the hills.
City walks: follow the guide!
To explore the historic center of Besançon, just let yourself be guided by his steps…. Yes, literally: on the ground, bronze arrows invite us to follow three routes. Unmissable and secret places for us! For other ideas for walks, just go for a walk on www.parcoursbesancon.fr or on the wifi _VISIT BESANCON_
Fancy a sporty outing? So we put on our sneakers and set off to storm the hills! There is no shortage of trail routes in the area: to find one, we will take a look at the Grand Besançon outdoor website: grandes-heures-nature.fr
Impossible to come to Besançon without strolling on the banks of the Doubs! We love discovering them on foot, along the rows of trees, on the lookout for elegant facades and bastioned towers (signed Vauban, again…). An even more bucolic way to explore the banks of the Doubs? Over the water! Your choice, to navigate according to the Loop: guided cruises or independent outing, by piloting an electric boat without a license. To do this, we contact Doubs Plaisance. Come on, one last good plan for the road: the Promenade Granvelle, in the shade of the large chestnut trees, is very pleasant ...
Heritage and art of living
Lovers of architecture and culture, Besançon is certainly worth a detour, with no less than 200 listed monuments and 6 museums in France. The "tourism pass" allows you to increase the number of visits.
Did you know, by the way, that the great Victor Hugo was born here in February 1802? His birthplace, at 140 Grande-Rue, offers interesting tour themes, around the battles of the famous writer. We must also mention the Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology (renovated in 2018), the FRAC, as well as the fascinating Museum of Time, in the Granvelle palace. Yes, Besançon is none other than the capital of French watchmaking.
Speaking of time… Besançon invites us to have a good time! At the market, in particular, to find good local products ... Meet at Place de la Révolution (also very pleasant for a coffee) on Tuesday and Friday and at the Rivotte market on Sunday. There are also very good restaurants, small independent booksellers and cool designer boutiques in the shopping streets of La Boucle and the Battant district.
Besançon is also a city on the move, with a well-filled agenda: concerts, exhibitions, festivals… The one dedicated to street art, “very urban”, has contributed to making Besançon a capital of graffiti! We admire very beautiful, on the walls of the city.
Around Besançon, beautiful getaways
Besançon and its surroundings offer no less than 1 km of marked trails. Something to satisfy walkers of all levels! The pilgrimage of the Via Francigena (GR 000) is one of the musts of the region.
The Doubs valley also promises many micro-adventures. On the program: hikes, sound walks (Deluz, Thoraise), canoeing (eco-paddler course from Avanne) and afternoon swimming at the Osselle leisure center ...
And let's not forget the bike! EuroVelo 6, which connects Nantes to Budapest, passes through here… Another valley worth seeing: the Ognon valley, dotted with beautiful little villages.
For more mountainous getaways (hiking, climbing, mountain biking, etc.) head to the first plateau of the Jura! The villages also reserve their share of activities: in Nancray, we stop at the Comtoise house museum (in a pleasant 15 hectare park) and, in Fontain, at the county fruit farm, to feast!
Finally, there are beautiful walks to do on the paths of the Saône marshes, an 800 hectare wetland which is home to breathtaking biodiversity.