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besançon, besançon besançon
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² 0386 sq mi or 247 acres and river estuaries

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes eg, students and military personnel only counted once

Besançon French and Arpitan: French pronunciation: ; archaic German: Bisanz, Latin: Vesontio is the capital of the department of Doubs and of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in eastern France, close to the border with Switzerland In 2013, it had a population of 116,952

Once proclaimed first green city of France, it has been labeled a "Town of Art and History" since 1986 Since 2008, Besançon's Vauban citadel has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site


  • 1 History
    • 11 Toponymy
    • 12 Ancient history
    • 13 Middle Ages
    • 14 Renaissance
    • 15 Modern Europe
  • 2 Geography
    • 21 Location
    • 22 Topography
    • 23 Climate
    • 24 Districts
    • 25 Parks and gardens
  • 3 Population
  • 4 Government and politics
  • 5 Economy
  • 6 Education
  • 7 Culture
    • 71 Sites of interest
      • 711 Other institutions
      • 712 Performing arts centers
    • 72 Annual cultural events and fairs
    • 73 Sports
  • 8 Transport
    • 81 Road
    • 82 Air
    • 83 Rail
    • 84 Tram
    • 85 Bus
  • 9 Births
  • 10 Literary references
  • 11 International relations
    • 111 Twin towns – sister cities
  • 12 See also
  • 13 References
  • 14 External links


See also: Timeline of Besançon


The city is first recorded in 58 BC as Vesontio in the Book I of Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico The etymology of Vesontio is uncertain The most common explanation is that the name is of Celtic origin, derived from wes, meaning 'mountain' During the 4th century, the letter B took the place of the V, and the city name changed to Besontio or Bisontion and then underwent several transformations to become Besançon in 1243

The Doubs river and the Quai Vauban seen from the Pont Battant

Ancient history

The city sits within an oxbow of the Doubs River a tributary of the Saône River; a mountain closes the fourth side During the Bronze Age, c1500 BCE, tribes of Gauls settled the oxbow

From the 1st century BC through the modern era, the town had a significant military importance because the Alps rise abruptly to its immediate south, presenting a significant natural barrier

The Arar Saône River formed part of the border between the Haedui and their hereditary rivals, the Sequani According to Strabo, the cause of the conflict was commercial Each tribe claimed the Arar and the tolls on trade along it The Sequani controlled access to the Rhine River and had built an oppidum a fortified town at Vesontio to protect their interests The Sequani defeated and massacred the Haedui at the Battle of Magetobriga, with the help of the Arverni tribe and the Germanic Suebi tribe under the Germanic king Ariovistus

Julius Caesar, in his commentaries detailing his conquest of Gaul, describes Vesontio possibly Latinized, as the largest town of the Sequani, a smaller Gaulic tribe, and mentions that a wooden palisade surrounded it

Over the centuries, the name permutated to become Besantio, Besontion, Bisanz in Middle High German and gradually arrived at the modern French Besançon The locals retain their ancient heritage referring to themselves as Bisontins feminine: Bisontine

It has been an archbishopric since the 4th century

Middle Ages

Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor inherited the city and made it part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1032

In 843, the Treaty of Verdun divided up Charlemagne's empire Besançon became part of Lotharingie, under the Duke of Burgundy

As part of the Holy Roman Empire since 1034, the city became an archbishopric, and was designated the Free Imperial City of Besançon an autonomous city-state under the Holy Roman Emperor in 1184 In 1157, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa held the Diet of Besançon There, Cardinal Orlando Bandinelli the future Pope Alexander III, then adviser of Pope Adrian IV openly asserted before the Emperor that the imperial dignity was a papal beneficium in the more general sense of favour, not the strict feudal sense of fief, which incurred the wrath of the German princes He would have fallen on the spot under the battle-axe of his lifelong foe, Otto of Wittelsbach, had Frederick not intervened The Imperial Chancellor Rainald of Dassel then inaugurated a German policy that insisted upon the rights and the power of the German kings, the strengthening of the Church in the German Empire, the lordship of Italy and the humiliation of the Papacy The Archbishops were elevated to Princes of the Holy Roman Empire in 1288 The close connection to the Empire is reflected in the city's coat of arms

In 1290, after a century of fighting against the power of the archbishops, the Emperor granted Besançon its independence


In the 15th century, Besançon came under the influence of the dukes of Burgundy After the marriage of Mary of Burgundy to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, the city was in effect a Habsburg fief In 1519 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, became the Holy Roman Emperor This made him master of Franche-Comté and Besançon, a francophone German city In 1526 the city obtained the right to mint coins, which it continued to strike until 1673 Nevertheless, all coins bore the name of Charles V

When Charles V abdicated in 1555, he gave Franche-Comté to his son, Philip II, King of Spain Besançon remained a free imperial city under the protection of the King of Spain In 1598, Philip II gave the province to his daughter on her marriage to an Austrian archduke It remained formally a portion of the Empire until its cession at the peace of Westphalia in 1648 Spain regained control of Franche-Comté and the city lost its status as a free city Then in 1667, Louis XIV claimed the province as a consequence of his marriage to Marie-Thérèse of Spain in the War of Devolution

Louis conquered the city for the first time in 1668, but the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle returned it to Spain within a matter of months While it was in French hands, the famed military engineer Vauban visited the city and drew up plans for its fortification The Spaniards built the main centre point of the city's defences, "la Citadelle", siting it on Mont Saint-Étienne, which closes the neck of the oxbow that is the site of the original town In their construction, the Spaniards followed Vauban's designs

In 1674, French troops recaptured the city, which the Treaty of Nijmegen 1678 then awarded to France At this time the city became the administrative centre for Franche-Comté, with its own Parlement of Besançon, which replaced Dole

The Citadel of Besançon by Vauban

As a result of control passing to France, Vauban returned to working on the citadel's fortifications, and those of the city This process lasted until 1711, some 30 years, and the walls built then surround the city Between the train station and the central city there is a complex moat system that now serves road traffic Numerous forts, some of which date back to that time and that incorporate Vauban's designs elements sit on the six hills that surround the city: Fort de Trois Châtels, Fort Chaudanne, Fort du Petit Chaudanne, Fort Griffon, Fort des Justices, Fort de Beauregard and Fort de Brégille The citadel itself has two dry moats, with an outer and inner court In the evenings, the illuminated Citadelle stands above the city as a landmark and a testament to Vauban's genius as a military engineer

Modern Europe

In 1814 the Austrians invaded and bombarded the city It also occupied an important position during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71

The Nazis occupied the citadel during World War II Between 1940 and 1944, the Germans executed some one hundred French resistance fighters there However, Besançon saw little action during the war The allies bombed the railway complex in 1943, and the next year the Germans resisted the US advance for four days

Besançon was also the location, between 1940 and 1941, of an Internment Camp Konzentrationslager, Frontstalag 142, also known as Caserne Vauban, which the Germans set up for 3-4,000 holders of British passports, all women and children The conditions were harsh; many hundreds of internees died of pneumonia, diarrhea, food poisoning, dysentery, and frostbite

In 1959, the French Army turned the citadel over to the city of Besançon, which turned it into a museum

The forts of Brégille and Beauregard sit across the Doubs from the city In 1913, a private company built a funicular to the Brégille Heights The funicular passed from private ownership to the SNCF, who finally closed it in 1987 The funicular's tracks, stations and even road signs remain in place to this day


Site of Besançon Landsat 7 Besançon seen by Spot Satellite


Besançon is located in the north-east quarter of France on the Doubs River It is about 325 kilometres 202 miles east of the national capital of Paris, 100 kilometres 62 miles east of Dijon in Burgundy, 125 km 78 mi northwest of Lausanne in Switzerland, and 100 km 62 mi southwest of Belfort in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté It is located at the edge of the Jura Mountains


The city initially developed in a natural meander or oxbow loop of the Doubs River with a diameter of almost 1,000 metres 3,281 feet The flat inner loop has an elevation of about 250 metres 820 feet, and is bounded to the south by a hill called Mont Saint-Étienne, which has a maximum height of 371 metres 1,217 feet The city is surrounded by six other hills which range in elevation from 400 to 500 metres 1,312 to 1,640 feet: Brégille, Griffon, Planoise, Chaudanne, Montfaucon, and Montboucon There is a barge canal that cuts through rock under Mont Saint-Étienne, short-cutting the meander


Besançon is under the influence of both an oceanic climate notable precipitations in quantity as much as in frequency and a continental climate with hard winters snow, frost and warm and dry summers The year-round average is 115 °C 53 °F The warmest month is July 20 °C 68 °F and the coldest is January 21 °C 36 °F Besançon receives about 1,059 mm 42 in of precipitation per year The wettest month is May 1084 mm 43 in; the driest is August 769 mm 30 in The highest temperature ever, recorded on 28 July 1921, was 403 °C 1045 °F, and the lowest was a −207 °C −53 °F reached on 1 January 1985

Climate data for Besançon 1981–2010 averages
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C °F 168
Average high °C °F 52
Average low °C °F −07
Record low °C °F −207
Average precipitation mm inches 863
Average precipitation days 130 116 121 115 134 111 102 100 98 125 126 134 1410
Average relative humidity % 87 82 77 74 77 77 75 78 82 87 87 88 809
Mean monthly sunshine hours 751 955 1421 1761 2066 2304 2441 2323 1758 1326 727 530 1,8364
Source #1: Météo France
Source #2: Infoclimatfr humidity, 1961–1990


Courtyard of the former city hall The 14 Besançon boroughs
  1. Centre – Chapelle des Buis
  2. Velotte
  3. Butte – Grette
  4. Battant
  5. Chaprais – Cras
  6. Bregille
  7. Saint-Ferjeux – Rosemont
  1. Montboucons – Montrapon
  2. Saint-Claude – Torcols
  3. Palente – Orchamps – Saragosse
  4. Vaites – Clairs-Soleils
  5. Planoise – Châteaufarine
  6. Tilleroyes
  7. Chailluz
  • Centre the buckleet and Saint-Jean – Chapelle des Buis
  • Battant
  • Bregille
  • Vaites – Clairs-Soleils
  • Velotte
  • Butte – Grette
  • Chaprais – Cras
  • Palente – Orchamps – Combe Saragosse
  • Tilleroyes
  • Montrapon – Montboucons – Fontaine-écu
  • Planoise – Châteaufarine
  • Saint-Claude – Torcols
  • Saint-Ferjeux – Rosemont
  • Chailluz

Parks and gardens

  • Jardin botanique de Besançon
  • Parc Micaud
  • Parc de la Gare d'Eau
  • Parc de la Citadelle
  • Promenade Granvelle
  • Promenade Chamars


As of the French Census of 2012, the population of the City of Besançon was 116,353, lower than the historical peak of 120,315 in 1975 Grand Besançon covers 122 km2 47 sq mi, 11 municipalities and has a population of 135,652 The metropolitan area covers 1,652 km2 638 sq mi, 234 municipalities and has 236,968 inhabitants It is the thirty-seventh of France It increased by 66% between 1999 and 2008

Year Pop ±%
1800 28,436 —    
1836 29,718 +45%
1841 36,461 +227%
1861 46,786 +283%
1876 54,404 +163%
1896 57,556 +58%
1911 57,978 +07%
1921 55,652 −40%
1936 65,022 +168%
1946 63,508 −23%
1954 73,445 +156%
1962 95,642 +302%
1968 113,220 +184%
1975 120,315 +63%
1982 113,283 −58%
1990 113,828 +05%
1999 117,733 +34%
2008 117,599 −01%
2012 116,353 −11%

Government and politics

Besançon is the capital of the Franche-Comté région of France, a région including the four départements of Doubs, Haute-Saône, Jura and Territoire de Belfort As such, it is the seat of the Franche-Comté regional council, and the regional préfecture government offices

Mayor of the City of Besançon is Jean-Louis Fousseret


The city is famous for its microtechnology and watch industries It is host of the biannual Micronora trade fair, one of Europe's major events in the field of microtechnologies The city has a little-known specialty, automatic ticketing machines for car parking, airports, date stamping etc

The watch industry, for which Besançon remains the French capital, endured a major crisis in the 1970s when the advent of quartz watches from Asia knocked out the traditional watch industry in the space of just a few years The famous "Lip" affair epitomizes the industrial crisis LIP is to this day the name of one of Besançon's most prestigious brands of watches Refusing to let their factory close, the workers set up a cooperative to run it The action produced a lot of notoriety and sympathy for the workers but also resulted in branding Besançon as a city of the radical left It also did nothing to help revive the watch industry; the cooperative went out of business a short while later The city took a long time to recover from the collapse of the watch industry and its other major industry of the industrial age, artificial textiles

Since the 1980s, Besançon's watch industry has clawed its way back on the basis of its historic reputation and quartz watches, establishing itself in a number of niche markets including customized watches, high quality watches, and fashion articles Since the 1990s, the town has developed a reputation as one of France's leading centres of technology in all fields, including telecommunications and biotechnology


Besançon is the seat of the Université de Franche-Comté As of 2006, there were approximately 20,000 students enrolled at the university, including around 3,000 foreign students The Institut Supérieur d'Ingénieurs de Franche-Comté ISIFC, part of the Université de Franche-Comté, is the first school created in the country specifically for the Biomedical engineering field The city is also home of the École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et des Microtechniques ENSMM, a technological school with a strong reputation in the fields of microtechnology and mechanics and the worldwide famous Centre for Applied Linguistics which teaches ten languages to non-native speakers French, Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and any other known language on request and which welcomes more than 4,000 students every year from all over the world


Fountain on the Place Jean-Cornet General view of the Old city

Sites of interest

Interior of St Jean Cathedral in Besançon General view of Vauban's Citadel Typical products of the region The Porte Noire, Roman triumphal arch Detail of the multicolored stone from Chailluz quarry, used in many of the buildings

The city has one of the most beautiful historic centers of any major town in France A broad horse-shoe of the river Doubs, "la Boucle", encircles the old town, while Vauban's imposing Citadelle blocks off the neck The historic center presents a remarkable ensemble of classic stone buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages and others to the Spanish Renaissance Among its most visited historic monuments are:

  • several Roman remains,
  • the 16th-century Palais Granvelle,
  • Vauban's citadel Citadel of Besançon
  • the Cathedral of St Jean,
  • several Spanish Renaissance-style buildings
  • the Église de la Madeleine, and
  • the river frontage

The Roman remains consist primarily of the Porte Noire, a 2nd-century CE triumphal arch at the foot of the hill on which the citadel stands, and the Square Castan, a semi-circular amphitheater The Porte Noire may commemorate the victories of Marcus Aurelius over the Germans in 167 CE It was partly rebuilt in 1820

From 1534 to 1540, Cardinal Granvelle, chancellor to the Habsburg emperor Charles V, built the Palais Granvelle, in the heart of the town It consists of arcades that surround an interior court, and is the most interesting of the secular buildings The Palais contains a set of seven wool and silk blend tapestries from Bruges that were woven circa 1635 and that celebrate seven milestones in Charles V's life These tapestries remained in Spain until 1888, when they were transferred to France In 1950 they were transferred to the Palais

UNESCO added the citadel, the city walls and Fort Griffon to its list of World Heritage Sites in 2008, as part of the "Fortifications of Vauban" group Some older military architecture has also survived There is a cylindrical, 15th-century tower near the Porte Notre-Dame, the southern gate of the city The Porte Rivotte, a 16th-century gate, has two round towers The citadel houses the Museum of the French Resistance and Deportation

The Cathedral, which dates largely from the 12th century though construction continued into the 14th century, contains the most remarkable of the city's masterpieces, a massive Virgin and saints altarpiece by the Italian Renaissance painter Fra Bartolomeo It also houses a noteworthy 19th-century astronomical clock The Cathedral has two apses, with the eastern apse and the tower dating from the reign of Louis XV

Attractive quays border the old city, and in places there are shady promenades On the right bank there is a bathing establishment in the Mouillere quarter that draws its water from the saline springs of Miserey-Salines

Besançon also has one of the finest city art galleries in France outside Paris The Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology has a collection whose origins date to 1694, and which a remarkable series of bequests have augmented over time In the 1960s the architect Luis Miquel, a pupil of Le Corbusier, totally rebuilt the building The building's interior takes the form of a gently rising concrete walkway that takes visitors up from classical antiquity to the modern age Among the museum's treasures are a fine collection of classical antiquities and ancient Egyptian artifacts, as well as a very rich collection of paintings including works by Bellini, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Titian, Rubens, Jordaens, Ruisdael, Cranach, Zurbarán, Goya, Philippe de Champaigne, Fragonard, Boucher, David, Ingres, Géricault, Courbet, Constable, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso and many others

Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology

As well as being famed as one of France's finest "villes d'art" art cities, Besançon is the seat of one of France's older universities, of France's National School of Mechanics and Micromechanics, and one of the best known French language schools in France, the CLA It is also reputed to be France's environmentally friendliest city, with a public transport network that has often been cited as a model On account of the topography, the historic city centre lies at the edge of the modern city, and hiking tracks lead straight from the centre and up into the surrounding hills The city council has been in the hands of the Socialists and parties of the left since the Second World War King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is also the Lord of Besançon

The Christmas carol "Berger, Secoue Ton Sommeil Profond", known in English as "Shepherds, Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep" originated in Besançon in the 17th century

Other institutions

  • Museum of Time
  • Museum of Franche-Comté
  • Museum of Natural history, which contains a zoo, aquarium, insectarium, noctarium, and a climatology exhibit
  • Besançon Astronomical Observatory

Performing arts centers

Nouveau Théâtre
  • Opéra Théâtre: construit par Ledoux de 1778 à 1784
  • Grand Kursaal
  • Nouveau Théâtre – Centre Dramatique National
  • Cirque Plume
  • Théâtre Bacchus
  • Théâtre de la Bouloie
  • Théâtre de l'Espace

Annual cultural events and fairs

Several major events occur annually in Besançon One of the best-known is the Besançon International Music Festival, which takes place in September; it is one of the oldest and most prestigious Classical music festivals Besançon hosts other music festivals such as the Herbe en Zik Festival French rock and variety in May, the Jazz en Franche-Comté Festival in June, the Franch Country Festival country music in August, and the Musiques de Rues Festival street music in October


The major sports in Besançon are soccer, handball and basketball The city's soccer club, called Besançon Racing Club plays in the French seventh division
The city has also the International Football Academy of Orchamps Besançon for young players from 4 to 13 years Labelled by the French Football Federation since the creation of the label in 2004, its purpose is to teach young players in all aspects of football to become good competitive players ASOB Foot Besançon also had a fairly successful hockey team in the early 21st century The Séquanes, named after an ancient gallic tribe, reached the French Cup final in 2002 which the city hosted and briefly played in the country's top league, then called Super 16
However the Séquanes' free spending policy soon backfired The team folded in the middle of the 2002/03 season due to financial problems Today, senior hockey subsists in Besançon in the form of a low level amateur team The city also had a good Canoe-Kayak Club, Sport Nautique Bisontin, one of the oldest in France

Club Sport League Stadium
Besançon Racing Club Football Championnat de France Amateurs Stade Léo Lagrange
Entente Sportive Bisontine Masculin Handball Nationale 1 Gymnase des Montboucons
Entente Sportive Bisontine Feminin Handball Division 1 women's Palais des Sports



Besançon is situated at the crossing of two major lines of communication, the NE-SW route that follows the valley of the river Doubs and links Germany and North Europe with Lyon and southwest Europe, and the N-S route linking northern France and the Netherlands with Switzerland


Unusually for a city of its size, Besançon does not have a commercial airport Two international airports, EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg and Lyon Saint-Exupéry International Airport, are about two hours away by car


Besançon is well connected with the rest of France by train One can reach major destinations such as Paris, Dijon, Belfort, Mulhouse, Strasbourg, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier and Lille directly The city has some international connections to cities such as Basel and Zürich in Switzerland and Frankfurt am Main in Germany

  • Gare de Besançon-Viotte, the main railway station, sits in the centre of the city
  • Gare de Besançon Franche-Comté TGV is the high speed railway station and it sits some 10 km 6 mi north of the city


A tramway commenced service in September 2014 The length of the line is 13 kilometres 81 mi and the route follows a mainly South-West-North East direction through the city between Hauts du Chazal and alternative destinations of Chalezeule "parc Micaud" and the Besançon railway station at "Gare Viotte"


The neighborhoud of Saint Magdalena church and the "Pont Battant"

Ginko runs Besançon's urban bus routes


The birthplace of Victor Hugo in Besançon

Besançon was the birthplace of:

  • Claude Goudimel 1510–1572, musician, teacher of Palestrina Composer of Protestant hymns
  • Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle 1517–1586, cardinal, statesman and humanist Counsellor of Charles V, Viceroy of Naples
  • Jean-Baptiste Besard 1567 – c 1625, lawyer, Doctor of Medicine and composer for the lute
  • Jean-Baptiste Boisot 1638–1694, abbot and scholar
  • Jean Mairet 1604–1686, dramatist
  • Michel Blavet 1700–1768, flutist, composer
  • Charles Fourier 1772–1837, inventor of socialist "phalansteries" vast communal buildings surrounded by a highly cultivated agricultural area
  • Charles-Étienne-François Ruty 1777–1828, comte, general, peer—commissioned into the army in 1793 and promoted to lt general in 1813
  • Charles Weiss 1779–1866, librarian and bibliographer
  • Charles Nodier 1780–1844, writer Leader of the Romantic movement
  • Jean Claude Eugène Péclet 1793–1857, physicist, gave his name to the Péclet number
  • Victor Hugo 1802–1885, writer and poet
  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon 1809–1865, politician, economist and author, theorist of anarchism
  • Adolphe Braun 1812–1877, early photographer
  • Marie Louise Outhwaite née Roget 1814–1905, prominent early settler of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Hilaire de Chardonnet 1838–1924, inventor of artificial silk
  • Henry Aron 1842–1885, journalist
  • Louis-Jean Résal 1854–1920, engineer who built the Pont Mirabeau and the Pont Alexandre III in Paris
  • Auguste and Louis Lumière 1862–1954 and 1864–1948, inventors of cinematography
  • Tristan Bernard 1866–1947, journalist and humorist
  • Albert Seitz 1872–1937, composer and violist
  • Ludovic Arrachart 1897–1933, aviator
  • Jean de Gribaldy 1922–1987, professional racing cyclist and directeur sportif
  • Raymond Blanc born 1949, chef
  • Morrade Hakkar born 1972, boxer
  • Gaspard Augé born 1979, one half of electronic music duo Justice
  • Cyril Kali, footballer
  • Yohann Lasimant, footballer
  • Lucien Laurent, footballer

Literary references

  • Julius Caesar, in his account Commentarii de Bello Gallico gives a description of the antique city of Besançon, named Vesontio first book, section 38:

When he had proceeded three days' journey, word was brought to him that Ariovistus was hastening with all his forces to seize on Vesontio, which is the largest town of the Sequani, and had advanced three days' journey from its territories Caesar thought that he ought to take the greatest precautions lest this should happen, for there was in that town a most ample supply of every thing which was serviceable for war; and so fortified was it by the nature of the ground, as to afford a great facility for protracting the war, inasmuch as the river Doubs almost surrounds the whole town, as though it were traced round it with a pair of compasses A mountain of great height shuts in the remaining space, which is not more than 600 feet 180 m, where the river leaves a gap, in such a manner that the roots of that mountain extend to the river's bank on either side A wall thrown around it makes a citadel of this , and connects it with the town

  • Gary Jennings's novel Raptor, which takes place in the 5th century AD, describes Vesontio lavishly
  • In Stendhal's novel Le rouge et le noir, Julien Sorel, the main character, studies for a while at the Catholic seminary at Besançon first book, chapters 24 to 30:

Eventually he saw the white walls beyond the distant mountain; it was the citadel of Besançon "What a difference", he said, sighing, "if I could come into this fine city as a sub-lieutenant of one of these regiments of the post" Besançon is not only one of the prettiest cities in France, but it abounds in brave and intelligent men Julien, however, was only a little peasant, without any means of approaching distinguished personages

  • In the poem This century was two years old Les Feuilles d'automne; literally – "The Leaves of Autumn", Victor Hugo evokes his birth in Besançon:

This century was two years old Rome was replacing Sparta;
Already Napoleon was emerging from under Bonaparte
And already the First Consul's tight mask
Had been split in several places by the Emperor's brow
It was then that in Besançon, that old Spanish town,
Cast like a seed into the flying wind,
A child was born of mixed blood—Breton and Lorraine—
Pallid, blind and mute,
That child, whom Life was scratching from its book,
And who had not another day to live,
Was me

  • Besançon is where the Touché! series, an Australian series of books that teaches people French, is set The series is about an Australian boy called Nick, who moves to Besançon after his parents separate He settles in a street called rue Cézanne where he befriends a French girl called Marianne She introduces him to other residents of rue Cézanne, such as Ahmed, Annick, François Petitpain, Émile Mesquin, Monsieur Fric, Madame Boulin and Mademoiselle Moh The first two books of the series take place in Besançon, whilst in the third, Nick visits his uncle in New Caledonia In the fourth, Nick stays in Quebec, Canada After the fourth book, Nick returns to Besançon
  • Julian Barnes's novel A History of the World in 10½ Chapters features as chapter 3: "Wars of Religion"—a fictional manuscript reportedly from the Archives Municipales de Besançon
  • Balzac's novel Albert Savaron takes place in Besançon
  • Colonel Sainte-Hermine, the fictional hero of Alexandre Dumas' The Last Cavalier, is a native of Besançon

International relations

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France

Twin towns – sister cities

Besançon is twinned with:

  • Tver Russia
  • Freiburg im Breisgau Germany
  • Kuopio Finland
  • Kirklees - England United Kingdom
  • Bielsko-Biała Poland
  • Neuchâtel Switzerland
  • Bistriţa Romania
  • Pavia Italy
  • Hadera Israel
  • Douroula Burkina Faso
  • Man Côte d'Ivoire
  • Charlottesville – Virginia United States

See also

  • Communes of the Doubs department
  • List of works by James Pradier
  • A statue of Henri Bouchot stands in Besançon's square Henri-Bouchot It was originally in bronze but was melted down by the Vichy régime The replacement in stone was executed by Georges Saupique


  1. ^ Considering surface green spaces per inhabitant, Numbers available on the encyclopedia site Quid, at the bottom of the page Archived 9 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Caesar & BG, Book I, Section 12
  3. ^ Strabo, Geography 432
  4. ^ Shakespeare, Nicholas 2013 Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France Harvill Secker
  5. ^ "Données climatiques de la station de Besançon" in French Meteo France Retrieved January 4, 2016 
  6. ^ "Climat Franche-Comté" in French Meteo France Retrieved January 4, 2016 
  7. ^ "Normes et records 1961-1990: Besançon - Thise 25 - altitude 307m" in French Infoclimat Retrieved January 4, 2016 
  8. ^ "Institut Supérieur d'Ingénieurs de Franche-Comté Besançon web site" Retrieved 20 June 2011 
  9. ^ http://wwwkunsttripnl/images/besancon/facade%20van%20het%20palais%20granvelle%20becanconjpg
  10. ^ http://familledoderencanalblogcom/images/besancon_palaisjpg
  11. ^ http://wwwcoulourisnet/george-jean/tandemfrance2003/besancon/Images/9jpg
  12. ^ Dupré, Romain February 2013 "Henri, dit Henry, Aron, professeur, publiciste, directeur du Journal officiel" Archives Juives, Revue d'histoire des Juifs de France, Vol 46, pp 136-140 Retrieved 24 January 2016 subscription required for full access French
  13. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns" Archant Community Media Ltd Archived from the original on 5 July 2013 Retrieved 2013-07-11 
  14. ^ "Freedom of Kirklees for a French town!" Huddersfield Examiner 1 April 2005 Retrieved 14 February 2009 
  15. ^ "Bielsko-Biała - Partner Cities" © 2008 Urzędu Miejskiego w Bielsku-Białej Retrieved 2008-12-10 

External links

  • Official website French

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