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Besançon occupies an important position historically and was a key stop on several major European trade routes. Its importance lead to wealth, comfort and the development of a rich culture - Besançon was home to France's first ever public museum! This isn't a well known tourist town, but it has one of France's most beautiful town centres and you're surrounded by the Jura foothills and the green valleys of the River Doubs. The best places to stay in Besançon are within, or close to, the elegant 18th Century old town and the impressive citadel.
The citadel is positioned so as to block the neck of the oxbow bend in the river, where the town sits, so as well as its military uses, it's also a great spot for surveying Besançon and surrounds. The town changed hands multiple times between the 14th and 17th Centuries so the citadel was a necessity. Besançon was actually founded by the Romans and you can still see Roman ruins in the centre of town. Other visitor attractions include the cathedral and museums and of course just strolling the gentle pedestrianised streets then enjoying the local Comte cheeses and local smoked sausages.
These days Besançon is probably best known for the university and being the birthplace of Victor Hugo.
What Not To Miss
- Head up the citadel and take in the marvellous views from the top - be sure to remember your camera! There's also a small zoo in its grounds that the kids will enjoy.
- The fascinating Musee du Temps is a great spot for those into horology, or more generally anyone who likes a nice watch! With centuries old artefacts, it's an interesting place to visit.
- The Porte Noire archway, located in the centre of town, dates all the way back to the Roman times and is still wonderfully preserved.
- Enjoy a good book in the beautiful Parc Micaud and tuck into a picnic by the waterfont.
If you're coming in the busy summer months then book ahead to avoid disappointment - the best places to stay in Besançon get quickly booked up!
The best places to stay in Besançon
For Local Exploring
The Hotel le Sauvage is an elegant hotel converted from a former monastery located just 500 metres from the wall of the citadel. It's a lot more glamorous than it sounds, with marble bathrooms and plush fabrics, and there's a charming bar and terrace.
For An Apartment Or Holiday Home
If you'd prefer the privacy of a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner Booking.com.
- Besançon's nicest weather-wise in the summer, with the average daily temperature rising to 19°C in July and August.
- That said, this is peak tourist season so if you fancy a quieter alternative consider coming in May or September.
- Given its central location in France, Besançon's not very well served by airports: you can either fly into Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport or across the border to EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg before taking the train across to Besançon.
- For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Holiday Autos.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Besançon
Hotel le Sauvage 24 rooms from $96Besançon
An elegant hotel set in a former monastery. Rooms feature wooden floors, plush drapes and marble bathrooms. Charming bar area and balcony terrace. Just 500 metres from citadel walls, with many restaurants and sights close by. A chic choice for a break filled with discovery.Local exploring - A place rich with sights and adventures, especially the fortifications of Vauban and wide choice of outdoor activitiesSights nearby - Victor Hugo's HouseKayaking - On the river DoubsSailing - Can be booked nearby.