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Citadel of Besançon, Besancon

Categories: Architectural Buildings, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.5/5 based on 1,100+ reviews on the web
Well preserved since its construction in 1668, Citadel of Besançon is the most visited monument in the region, in part because architect Vauban's masterpiece now houses three large museums and the Vauban center. Fortifications on 11 hectares (27 acres) are more than 100 m (328 ft) above the old city at the River Doubs' loop. Encircled by ramparts, the site has many walkways you can access with watchtowers, turrets, and walls that rise up to 20 m (65 ft) and are 6 m (20 ft) thick. You can stroll the rampart walks for spectacular views of the old town, the river, and surrounding hills.

Audio tours in English are available for the Museum of Resistance and Deportation and the Vauban Center. A discovery tour in English describes the citadel, and an actor-led tour in French allows you to discover the citadel with a local dressed up in period costume. If you prefer a self-guided tour, a free booklet with a map and a discovery booklet for 7-11-year-old children are available at the welcome center. You can dine at the on-site restaurant or your choice of two snack bars.

The Museum of Resistance and Deportation fills twenty rooms on two floors with photographs, texts, original documents, and military equipment related to World War II. During the occupation, a firing squad shot a hundred French resistance fighters at this location--making this is a poignant place for the museum and the outdoor memorial. Many documents are frail and not available to the public, but you can access 160 works of Léon Delarbre and Jean Daligault using the interactive terminal in room 15.

The Museum of Natural History has more animal species than any other zoo in France. Six areas include the zoo, small farm, aquarium, insectarium, noctarium, and the evolution trail. The noctarium reverses day and night so that you can watch nocturnal animals, and the zoo holds two endangered species of big cats, the Asian lion and the Siberian Tiger, 20 species of primates, and 30 species of exotic birds. Not only will you be entertained by these collections, you will also discover the museum's three objectives: research, education, and conservation of endangered animal species.

The Musée Comtois focuses on the cultural and heritage identity through its 16 showrooms on three levels, describing the art and popular traditions of Franche-Comté inhabitants' daily life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Four main themes for you to explore include regional food, entertainment, thought, and work. The museum also has a large photographic collection of regional ethnography and a scale model of the entire citadel.

Vauban Center (Espace Vauban) explores the life and work of military architect Vauban, as well as important places and people including Louis XIV and Molière. Four exhibits describe Vauban, the wars for control of the Franche-Comté, and the musketeers at the citadel. A 10-minanimated film takes you on a journey through the 30-year construction of the 17th century citadel. For Citadel of Besançon and beyond, use our Besancon family vacation planner to get the most from your Besancon vacation.
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  • Really a nice city centre. Authentic and lively. Many dining facilities. Several nice streets with separate stores!
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  • A place to visit if you come for the first time. The site is beautiful and the activities inside of the Citadel are varied. As prevention, we have to climb to get there but nothing that the view is already worth a visit.
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  • You get a little essouflle if you decide to access the Citadel on foot, but the panoramic view of Besançon will compensate you. Hesitate not in good weather to do the full tour of the ramparts. The multimedia show (included in the entry price) has history of Besançon and the citadel in a short but interesting way. With the visit of the Museum Comtois and the Museum of the Resistance, allow 2-3 hours of presence on the site.
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  • Loved this historic place with perfect views over the city. Zoo is definitely a must see as well.
  • Well worth the trip. Kids (2 and 4 years old) loved the zoo. Lots of monkeys, and even a kangaroo! Good fun. Take the bus up if you're not a good driver...
  • Exceptional site, beautiful architecture and breathtaking views. Don't miss the zoo that's very good (lions, tigers etc.)
  • Visit with a child of 7 years. A Citadel which offers a wide range of points to visit, with well-placed multimedia without being too present. Suitable for young children, except for the part about the deportation which is very clearly announced for children over 10 years. A beautiful film about the history of Besançon and the Citadel which is projected in 360 degrees inside the chapel. Impressive. Beautiful animal areas, with the aquarium, insectarium, the nocturium (on the nocturnal animals of the region) and the zoo. The zoo is nice with regular shadow areas, and a variety of animals interesting. A good reuse of the moat of the Citadel! The restaurant inside was nice and good, even if the service was rather average. A Citadel maintained and clean, pleasant to walk a half-day.
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  • Exceeded expectations! As we we have opted for our small Alsace tour to visit the Citadelle de Besançon, we assumed, to visit "just" an impressive fortress. But from the front... We have decided to park in the parking lot "Rivotte". From here you must climb still some steps to the fortress, but you have from here a beautiful view on the fortress. We needed to walk about 15 minutes up to the fortress. You should only select this option if you are on foot, because the complete rise even more, even less well built stairs. There is also parking directly at the fortress, which are suitable only for passenger cars (no RVs or similar). At the checkout, there are audio guides, which you can get for free on a deposit (ID). It is really worth. You should absolutely use this offer. On the former moat, one encounters the first surprise: where monkeys are kept. Inside the Fort, it continues so varied! In addition to the old walls, many small museums and historical facts, the castle includes a half Zoo. Due to the different levels of the walls you can many enclosure (even lions and Tigers) both see from above as well as directly at eye level. This makes the visit also for families with children a highlight. Also, it has embedded great views of the city and the surrounding area - by the Doubs River from the fortress walls. As a conclusion, I can only repeat that the Citadelle for a day trip with the whole family is well suited by the interesting animal husbandry within the fortress.
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