1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers
> 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes
(e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Besançon (French and Arpitan: French
pronunciation: [bəzɑ̃sɔ̃] ( listen); archaic
German: Bisanz, Latin: Vesontio) is the capital of the department of
Doubs in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The city is located
in Eastern France, close to the
Jura Mountains and the border with
Switzerland. Capital of the historic and cultural region of
Besançon is home to the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
regional council headquarters, and is an important administrative
centre in the region. In 2015 the city had a population of 116,676, in
a metropolitan area of 250,563.
Once proclaimed the first green city of France, it has been labeled a
"Town of Art and History" since 1986. Since 2008, the Citadel of
Besançon and the fortifications of the city have been listed as a
UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besançon is also home to the University
of Franche-Comté, founded in 1423.
1.2 Ancient history
1.3 Middle Ages
1.5 Modern Europe
2.5 Parks and gardens
4 Government and politics
7.1 Sites of interest
7.1.1 Other institutions
7.1.2 Performing arts centers
7.2 Annual cultural events and fairs
10 Literary references
11 International relations
11.1 Twin towns – sister cities
12 See also
15 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.
Doubs and the Quai
Vauban seen from the Pont Battant.
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, c.1500 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
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
Over the centuries, the name permutated to become Besantio, Besontion,
Middle High German
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.
Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor inherited the city and made it part of
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire in 1032.
In 843, the
Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun divided up Charlemagne's empire.
Besançon became part of Lotharingia, under the Duke of Burgundy.
As part of the
Holy Roman Empire
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
Frederick Barbarossa held the Diet of Besançon. There,
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
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
Holy Roman Empire in 1288.
The close connection to the Empire is reflected in the city's coat of
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 the
Franche-Comté and Besançon, a
francophone imperial 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 the
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 the Franche-Comté, with its own
Parlement of Besançon, which replaced Dole.
Citadel of Besançon
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.
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
Besançon saw little action during the war. The allies
bombed the railway complex in 1943, and the next year the Germans
resisted the U.S. 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.
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
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is located at the edge of the Jura
The city initially developed in a natural meander (or oxbow loop) of
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 11.5 °C (53 °F). The warmest month
is July 20 °C (68 °F) and the coldest is January
2.1 °C (36 °F).
Besançon receives about 1,059 mm
(42 in) of precipitation per year. The wettest month is May
(108.4 mm (4.3 in)); the driest is August (76.9 mm
(3.0 in)). The highest temperature ever, recorded on 28 July
1921, was 40.3 °C (104.5 °F), and the lowest was a
−20.7 °C (−5.3 °F) reached on 1 January 1985.
Climate data for
Besançon (1981–2010 averages)
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Météo France
Source #2: Infoclimat.fr (humidity, 1961–1990)
Courtyard of the former city hall
Centre – Chapelle des Buis
Butte – Grette
Chaprais – Cras
Saint-Ferjeux – Rosemont
Montboucons – Montrapon
Saint-Claude – Torcols
Palente – Orchamps – Saragosse
Vaites – Clairs-Soleils
Planoise – Châteaufarine
Centre (the buckleet and Saint-Jean) – Chapelle des Buis
Vaites – Clairs-Soleils
Butte – Grette
Chaprais – Cras
Palente – Orchamps – Combe Saragosse
Montrapon – Montboucons – Fontaine-écu
Planoise – Châteaufarine
Saint-Claude – Torcols
Saint-Ferjeux – Rosemont
Parks and gardens
Jardin botanique de Besançon
Parc de la Gare d'Eau
Parc de la Citadelle
As of the French Census of 2015, the population of the City of
Besançon was 116,676, lower than the historical peak of 120,315 in
Besançon covers 431.3 km2 (166.5 sq mi),
69 municipalities and has a population of 192,816. The metropolitan
area covers 1,652 km2 (638 sq mi), 256 municipalities
and has 250,563 inhabitants. It is the 42nd of France, and it
increased by 2.5% between 2010 and 2015.
Government and politics
Besançon was the capital of the Franche-Comté
administrative région of France, a région including the four
départements of Doubs, Haute-Saône, Jura and Territoire de Belfort.
Franche-Comté was since merged with the neighbouring region of
Burgundy, and the "préfecture" was transferred to the city of Dijon.
Besançon remains the seat of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
regional council and of various decentralised administrations such as
the regional offices of the French National Institute for Statistics
and Economic Studies (INSEE) or the University of
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
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
Besançon is the seat of the Université de Franche-Comté. As of
2006[update], 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
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 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
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
UNESCO added the citadel, the city walls and Fort Griffon to its list
World Heritage Sites
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
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
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.
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
Opéra Théâtre: construit par Ledoux de 1778 à 1784
Nouveau Théâtre – Centre Dramatique National
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
Franche-Comté Festival in June, the Franch Country Festival
(country music) in August, and the
Musiques de Rues Festival
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
Besançon Racing Club plays in the French
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.
Besançon Racing Club
Stade Léo Lagrange
Entente Sportive Bisontine Masculin
Gymnase des Montboucons
Entente Sportive Bisontine Feminin
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
Unusually for a city of its size,
Besançon does not have a commercial
airport. Two international airports, EuroAirport
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,
Lille directly. The city
has some international connections to cities such as
Basel and Zürich
Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt am Main in Germany.
Gare de Besançon-Viotte, the main railway station, sits in the centre
of the city.
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 (8.1 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
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
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
Charles-Étienne-François Ruty (1777–1828), comte, general,
peer—commissioned into the army in 1793 and promoted to lt. general
Charles Weiss (1779–1866), librarian and bibliographer
Charles Nodier (1780–1844), writer. Leader of the Romantic movement
Jean Claude Eugène Péclet
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
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
Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III in Paris
Auguste and Louis Lumière
Auguste and Louis Lumière (1862–1954) and (1864–1948), inventors
Émile Scaremberg (1863–1938), tenor
Tristan Bernard (1866–1947), journalist and humorist
Albert Seitz (1872–1937), composer and violist
Ludovic Arrachart (1897–1933), aviator
Jean de Gribaldy
Jean de Gribaldy (1922–1987), professional racing cyclist and
Bernard Blum (1938-2014), agronomist and founder of IBMA and ABIM
Raymond Blanc (born 1949), chef
Paris (born 1970), author
Morrade Hakkar (born 1972), boxer
Sylvie Mamy, musicologist
Gaspard Augé (born 1979), one half of electronic music duo Justice
Cyril Kali, footballer
Yohann Lasimant, footballer
Lucien Laurent, footballer
Julius Caesar, in his account
Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico gives a
description of the antique city of Besançon, named Vesontio (first
book, section 38):
[1.38] When he had proceeded three days' journey, word was brought to
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 [mountain], 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
In the poem This century was two years old (Les Feuilles d'automne;
literally – "The Leaves of Autumn"),
Victor Hugo evokes his birth in
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,
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,
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.
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France
Twin towns – sister cities
Besançon is twinned with:
Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany)
England (United Kingdom)
Douroula (Burkina Faso)
Man (Côte d'Ivoire)
Virginia (United States)
Communes of the
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
^ 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.
^ Caesar & BG, Book I, Section 12.
^ Strabo, Geography 4.3.2
^ Shakespeare, Nicholas (2013) Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an
Englishwoman in Wartime France. (Harvill Secker).
^ "Données climatiques de la station de Besançon" (in French). Meteo
France. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
^ "Climat Franche-Comté" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved January
^ "Normes et records 1961-1990:
Thise (25) - altitude
307m" (in French). Infoclimat. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
^ "Institut Supérieur d'Ingénieurs de
Franche-Comté (Besançon) web
site". Retrieved 20 June 2011.
^ 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) (in French).
^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media
Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved
^ "Freedom of
Kirklees ...for a French town!". Huddersfield Examiner.
1 April 2005. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012.
Retrieved 14 February 2009.
Bielsko-Biała - Partner Cities". © 2008 Urzędu Miejskiego w
Bielsku-Białej. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
See also: Bibliography of the history of Besançon
Official website (in French)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Besançon.
Communes of the
Chemaudin et Vaux
Pays de Clerval
Prefectures of departments of France
La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)
Le Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire)
Le Mans (Sarthe)
La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée)
Belfort (Territoire de Belfort)
Cayenne (French Guiana)
Prefectures of the regions of France
Orléans (Centre-Val de Loire)
Strasbourg (Grand Est)
Nantes (Pays de la Loire)
Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)
Cayenne (French Guiana)
Vauban part of the
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Citadel of Besançon