On a loop in the River Doubs known as the Boucle (Oxbow), Besançon is a wonderful city that was once a strategic prize for Europe’s great empires. With the Doubs giving the city a natural moat Besançon could hardly have been easier to defend, especially because the only way in by land was over a monumental promontory.
And on this landform the military architect Vauban constructed a sky-scraping citadel that has no equals in France. The older buildings in the city are as peculiar as they are beautiful because of their “Chailluz” stone, which is streaked with hues of blue, grey and beige.
Lets explore the best things to do in Besançon:
The UNESCO-listed citadel is arguably Vauban’s crowning glory.
The military mastermind conceived this 11-hectare fortified complex in the 1660s, and it adapts to the mammoth promontory at the neck of the loop in the Doube River.
The project was as innovative as it was costly, and Louis XIV wondered in jest whether the walls had been built with gold.
The gigantic construction could hold a city of 10,000 and is its own attraction, with almost absurd dimensions, like the well that bores through the bedrock to a depth of 132 metres.
There are also museums in the citadel’s preserved buildings, as well as a botanical garden, zoo and children’s farm.