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A few words about Besançon…

Besançon is the birth place of a certain number of famous people. One finds, amongst others, Charles Fourier (1772-1837), Charles Nodier (1780-1844), Victor Hugo (1802-1885), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) and the Lumière brothers (Auguste & Louis,1862-1954; 1864-1948), Tristan Bernard (1866-1947)…

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Besançon (français):çon

Besançon (English):çon

The river which runs through Besançon is called the Doubs (like the Département of which it is the capital). The origin of the word 'Doubs' is the Gaulish word for 'black' ('dubus'). Besançon was inhabited by a Gaulish tribe (the Sequanes), first allied to Julius Caesar before embracing the Gaulish rebel Vercingétorix's cause. There are a series of Roman remains in the city, as Caesar's troops invaded Besançon and settled there in circa 60 BC; amongst them are the ‘Porte Noire' and the Roman ruins of Square Castan, part of a Roman road a few kilometres away from Besançon and a series of mosaics (some in the Musée des Beaux-Arts and some in situ, rue d'Alsace, for example, or in the University building). The square shape of the city is also a Roman legacy. The name Besançon is first mentioned by Julius Caesar in De Bello Gallico where he talks about « Vesontio, the capital of the Sequanes ».

There are nowadays 117,000 people living in Besançon. It is a University town with roughly 18,000 students (in 2011-12). Besançon was nicknamed 'the beautiful sleepy woman' by the local author Charles Nodier in the XIXth century. It has also held the title of 'First Green city of France' and, since 1986, 'Town of Art and History'.

TheVauban Fortress on the hill was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

Around Besançon :

Ornans ( birth place of Gustave Courbet, a small town with an impressive 'Musée Courbet' (

  • Ledoux, made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.