11.07.2017 - 11.07.2017
Besançon is in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is one of the best preserved cities in France dating from pre-Roman times. Its location at the crossroads of two major trans-European routes, and in the loop of the river Doubs proudly protected by the Besançon Citadel, has ensured it has remained a strategic city. It was labeled a 'Town of Art and History' in 1986.
In pre-Roman times, it was the capital of an area known as Sequania, but was first recorded as Vesontio in 58 BC after being conquered by the Romans. In the 4th century the letter 'V' was replaced by a 'B' and over time the name underwent several transformations to finally become Besançon in 1243.
There is much to see in Besançon but the most visited tourist attraction is the 17th century masterpiece, the Citadel, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The imposing Citadel stands on a massive rock - sheer on both sides - that blocks the entrance to the loop of the river. The site is encircled by ramparts topped by walkways, as well as watchtowers and turrets. The walls are up to 20 metres high and 5 to 6 metres thick. The Citadel offers visitors spectacular views over the old town of Besançon and the surrounding hills.
Click here for complete view of the Citadel Besançon Citadel
The delightful old centre of the city, the central area of which is pedestrianised, has survived more or less intact against modern day challenges. The streets are lined with houses and buildings from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century, built in the local two-coloured limestone. Once we had negotiated our way to the carpark, it was very pleasant to wander through the streets, and very easy to find our way.
. Navigating the modern way.
If you drive or walk to the Citadel, you have to pass the imposing Besançon Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Jean de Besançon). The Cathedral, dates largely from the 12th century, though construction continued into the 14th century. Simply spectacular. It also has a 19th century astronomical clock, which unfortunately was closed when we visited.
On the approach to the cathedral is the imposing 'Porte Noire' triumphal arch, the primary remains of the Roman city that once stood on the site. The inscriptions and art works on the arch are amazing.
Beside it in the Square Castan is a collection of archaeological remains probably dating from the 2nd or 3rd century, comprising a number of Corinthian columns and the remains of a water distribution system from a local aqueduct which supplied the city at this time. The garden in which they are located was created in 1870 to preserve these monuments, and was itself registered as a historical monument in 1945.
We had a wonderful day wandering through the old town, with Aaron, Rikke and Olivia having great shopping successes (due to the very good sales on offer). I had checked out 'Happy Cow', the international dining guide to all things vegan/vegetarian to find interesting options for lunch and dinner .. always an exciting part of travelling to different parts of the world. Dinner at the funky Betises et Volup The was very good, and the desserts were exceptional.
. Lunch at CouCou
. Betises et Volup The
. Simple, but beautifully presented
Let me in .. I want to come home!! We observed this little fellow stratching on the window of the building across from us as we waited for our meal.
. Streetart - Digital connection ..a sign of the times.
It is always wonderful to visit these old towns. I love wandering marvelling at the old buildings, and observing the goings-on. I always ponder what the lives of residents would have been like, and how it must be to live here in today's modern world.