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The Citadelle, Besancon

(1,300+ reviews on the web)
Architectural Building Tourist Spot
Well preserved since its construction in 1668, The Citadelle 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 The Citadelle and beyond, use our Besancon family vacation planner to get the most from your Besancon vacation.
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5 days in Besancon BY A USER FROM FRANCE June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 37 days in France BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, culture, relaxing, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: July, culture, relaxing, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 21 days in France BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Besancon BY A USER FROM MOROCCO May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 26 days in Europe BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND October, culture, historic sites, museums, hidden gems PREFERENCES: October, culture, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 9 days in France, Switzerland & Rivoli BY A USER FROM ITALY August, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: August, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced 3 days in Besancon BY A USER FROM FRANCE May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 46 days in France & Switzerland BY A USER FROM FRANCE July, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 14 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 60 days in France & Monaco-Ville BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, historic sites, hidden gems PREFERENCES: May, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 28 days in France, Switzerland & Leuven BY A USER FROM BELGIUM July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Besancon BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND April, outdoors, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: April, outdoors, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • The structure itself is amazing and the history interesting. However, the overall experience was disappointing for two reasons. First, instead of seeing on display what life was like during any of the...  more »
  • The place is on the top of the city, you need to walk a lot so be ready.The view of the city from the top is just amazing. The Museum is amazing in it and kids love the zoo & fish aquariums which are ...  more »
  • You need at least 3 to 4 hours to make the most of this interesting site....more if you want to visit the zoo as well as the historical parts. However, La Taverna "restauration rapide" was anything bu...  more »
Google
  • Was really nice! Big, open and interesting. Lots of animals and creatures and things to do. The Aquarium and insectarium are great! I actually left my phone on a bench and only realised 40 mins later. A member of staff had found it and taken it to the reception where I could pick it up so was very happy about that!
  • Lots to do. Inside and outside.
  • Nice place, has lamas and good views. You dont have to pay to see first part of citadelle and once viewpoint is available. Rest is within ticket price.
  • Interesting for both kids and adults. Personally I think museums are boring, so I enjoyed visiting the zoo as much as the kids. They also have a zoo filled with bugs and big ass spiders, which scared the crap out of my wife when they left one of the doors to their spider laboratory open 😁
  • Lovely place to go in good weather!