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Nature has a privileged place in Franche-Comté, but it would be nothing without its undeniably charming towns and cities. Whether visiting for culture, shopping or just to stroll around and take in the sights, Franche-Comté is home to many delightful towns and villages.
All the urban centres in Franche-Comté have their own unique identity, history and heritage. This is all the more obvious in the case of its four large cities. Besançon, the region’s capital, is both modern and unique, carefully preserving its charm throughout the years. You can stay within the river meander to explore its museums and rich historical heritage, but you can't ignore the Citadel, perched like a sentry watching over the city from atop its rocky spur. This masterpiece by the architect Vauban is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Further to the north of Franche-Comté, Belfort also benefited from Vauban’s talents, in the form of the Citadel of Belfort. At the foot of the pink fortress sits the town’s other emblem, Bartholdi’s unmissable Lion sculpture. An interesting challenge is to try to find the 250 depictions of the lion in the course of a relaxing walk through the town. But Belfort is also a lively city marked by major events and cultural happenings all year round.
Listed as an Area of Art and History, Montbéliard is known not only for its industrial heritage, but also for the diverse range of buildings that populate its city centre. The Château of the Dukes of Württemberg, former seat of the family which reigned over Montbéliard for many years, is today a remarkable art gallery. The city is also renowned for its culinary delights, including the famous Montbéliard sausage.
Dole, Franche-Comté’s fourth city, is located in the Jura department. Crossed by the Eurovelo 6 route, over the years Dole has become an essential meeting place for cycling enthusiasts. With the Doubs running through it, Dole is also an unrivalled river cruising destination. You can also learn all about the great Louis Pasteur here, at Maison Louis Pasteur, where the scientist was born.
As well as the large cities there are also many small towns full of charm in Franche-Comté. Regardless of size, each town has something to offer that is well worth discovering, whether gastronomy, with Jura wines in Arbois, the paintings of the eminent Gustave Courbet in Ornans, or the healthy thermal baths at Luxeuil-les-Bains. Saint-Claude is a centre for both pipes and diamonds, where you can learn the secrets of their production. In Vesoul, Franche-Comté’s historic town, you can enjoy a pleasant walk through the streets, discovering the many architectural styles which give the city its charm.
- FIMU: Festival International de Musique Universitaire (International Student Music Festival): in june
An intercultural festival attended by student musicians from some 30 different nationalities
- Besançon Music Festival: in september
International competition for young conductors which brings the world’s finest virtuosos together in Besançon each year.
- Entrevues Festival: in winter
Film festival held in Belfort which examines the connections between the past and the future of cinema.