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About Besançon

Besançon is the capital and principal city of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France which includes four departments: the Doubs, the Haute-Saône, the Jura and the Territoire de Belfort. Besançon had a population of about 237,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2008. Located close to the border with Switzerland, it is the capital of the department of Doubs. The city sits within an oxbow of the Doubs River (a tributary of the Rhône River); a mountain closes the fourth side. During the Bronze Age, circa 1500 BC, tribes of Gauls settled around the oxbow. Over the centuries, the name permutated to become Besantio, Besontion, Bisanz in Middle High German and gradually arrived at the modern French name of Besançon.

Besançon is the city which gave birth in 1862 to Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas Lumière and in 1864 to his brother Lous Jean Lumière, both inventors of the cinematography. Jean Claude Eugène Peclet (1793–1857), physicist who gave his name to the Péclet number, was also born in Besançon.

The city has one of the most beautiful historic centers of any major town in France. The Doubs river, shaped like a broad horse-shoe, and called ‘la Boucle’ (‘the loop’), encircles the old town, while Vauban’s imposing Citadelle blocks off the neck. The historic center presents a remarkable ensemble of classic stone buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages and others to the Spanish Renaissance.

Once proclaimed first green city of France, it has been labeled a ‘Town of Art and History’ since 1986.Since 2008, Besançon’s Vauban citadel (la Citadelle) has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.