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Besançon

Travel Guide Europe France Franche-Comté Besançon

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Introduction

Besançon is the capital of the department of Doubs and is the principal town of the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. An elegant 17th century city with a tradition in clockmaking, Besançon which lies on the River Doubs is close to the border with Switzerland and is just over 400 kilometres to the south-east of Paris. The historic centre of the town has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It has almost 250,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area and is located at the edge of the Jura Mountains.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Centre Chapelle de Buis
  • Butte Grette
  • Saint-Ferjeux Rosemont
  • Battant
  • Chaprais Cras
  • Vaîte Clairs-Soleils
  • Forêt de Chailluz
  • Saint-Claude Torcols
  • Palente Orchamps Saragosse
  • Bregille
  • Velotte
  • Planoise Châteaufarine
  • Tilleroyes
  • Montrapon Montboucons

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Sights and Activities

The city's old and historic centre is one of the most beautiful found in any of the major towns of France. The loop of the meandering River Doubs encircles the old town, while the Vauban's imposing Citadelle blocks off the neck, adding to the beauty of the town. The well-preserved historic centre has a number of classical stone building, some dating back to the Middle ages and others to the Renaissance period. Some of the most visited monuments of the city are:

  • Ancient Roman ruins and remains, including Porte Noire (a triumphal arch) and Square Castan (a semi-circular amphitheatre).
  • Vauban's Citadelle offers magnificent views of the city and houses theMusée Comtois, with its collection of furniture, popular objets d'art, puppets, crèches, mechanical theatre and documents that well-reflect the traditional life of the area.
  • Cathédrale Saint-Jean de Besançon houses the intricately designed Horloge Astronomique in its bell tower. Be there at the hour to watch the performances of the automated figures.
  • Musée des Beaux Arts et d'Archéologie is the oldest public museum in France and its collection boasts of works by Bellini, Rubens, Fragonard, Goya, Matisse and Picasso.
  • The 16th century Palais Granvelle was built for the Chancellor of the Holy Roman Emperor and has beautiful Renaissance façade. It now houses the Musée du Temps, bringing back the roots of the region to clockmaking.
  • Jardin Botanique de Besançon reflects the fauna ecosystem of the region, including the environments they live in such as bogs, cliffs and wetlands.

For more information, have a look at the official Besançon Tourism website.

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

Weather in Besançon varies from warm agreeable weather in summer (June - September) to cold winternights from December to February. Average highs during summer are around 18 °C to 22 °C while average temperatures in winter are around 5 °C with frost at night. Snowfall is not abundant but possible during these months. Precipitation is fairly even throughout the year with mostly between 80 and 100 mm a month, a little more in late spring to early summer.

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Getting There

By Plane

The closest airports with a significant number of flights throughout Europe are the EuroAirport near Basel (approximately 150 kilometres away) and the Geneva Airport.

From the above airports you can travel by car, ranging from 1.5 hours (EuroAirport) to 4 hours (Paris). Geneva and Lyon are 2-3 hours away.

By Train

There is a direct TGV link from Paris (including Charles de Gaulle Airport), taking about 3 hours, and a direct link to and from Lille, taking an hour longer. Corail trains from Lyon takes between 2.5 to 3.5 hours.

By Car

Besançon is located just south of the A36 highway, which runs east from the Route du Soleil (starting south of Dijon) towards Mulhouse. Paris-Besançon, approximately 400 kilometres in distance, is linked by A6/A36 and E60. Strasbourg which is about 250 kilometres away is linked by A35/A36. Lyon, of similar distance as Strasbourg, is linked by A42/A49/A36. Dijon can be reached via A39/A36 in about 100 kilometres.

By Bus

Buses travel to a number of cities, including smaller towns and villages in the region.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

The bus transportation network is managed by GINKO.

By Foot

Travelling by foot is by far the most suitable mode of exploration in the historical centre of Besançon.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Ethic Etapes CIS Besancon3, Avenue des MontbouconsHostel83

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Keep Connected

Internet

France is one of the best connected countries in the world, with data speed for upload/download ranked among the top 5 in the world. Most hotels and hostels would have in-house facilities to provide free internet access. Many major cities also have initiatives put in place to provide free wi-fi connection in public spaces. Alternatively there are internet cafés available in most cities/towns at a reasonable rate. Some private businesses, such as local cafés (or even the Starbuck's chain), may also provide wi-fi connectivity - keep an eye out for the signs by the shop windows/doors. Also look for the @ symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability. However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafés are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

To dial an international number from France, the IDD is 00, followed by the country code that you wish to dial, the area code and the phone number.
To call France from abroad, start with the international direct dialing (IDD) code from the country you're in, followed by French country code 33, the area code (drop the first zero in front of the area code), and the phone number. French telephone numbers are rarely given without the area code. The telephone number, including the area code, is made up of 10 digits. They are written in a set of 5 pairs of digits (i.e. 01 xx xx xx xx xx).
In France, the area code designations are: 01 - Paris Area ("Région Ile-de-France"), 02 - northwest, 03 - northeast, 04 - southeast, 05 - southwest, 06 - mobile phone providers. From 2010 onwards, 07 will also be assigned to mobile phone providers in order to cater for the surging demands for mobile phones.

Emergency numbers are 15 (medical aid), 17 (police station) and 18 (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number 112 (perhaps a better choice if you don't speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones.

France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are several companies (Orange, SFR, Free, Bouygues Télécom and some others MVNOs like Virgin Mobile) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free.

Post

La Poste in France is also referred to as the PTT (short for postes, télégraphes et téléphones). The mailboxes are painted bright yellow and often there is a slot for local city mail and another slot for "outside mail". Normally there is a queue in the post office, but most of the post offices have the self service machine installed which is quite easy to operate. Nowadays many of the tabac and even some of the souvenir shops also sell postage stamps. Normally an overseas postcard costs almost as much as sending a letter. Mails sent in France also have a zip code. The first two numbers represent the administrative department (e.g. in Paris' case that would be 75).

Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 7:00pm Monday through Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Apart from the basic job of mailing letters, most of the post offices do some banking activities also and some even have photocopy machines and cyber cafes for internet access.

For international package services, you might also check options with companies like DHL, UPS or TNT, which have competitive services and prices and might be faster in most cases.

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 47.2412254
  • Longitude: 6.0255656

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This is version 14. Last edited at 7:56 on Sep 20, 13 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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