La Citadelle de Besancon, Besancon

#1 of 282 in Things to do in Doubs
Must see · Architectural Building · Landmark
Well preserved since its construction in 1668, La Citadelle de Besancon 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. To visit La Citadelle de Besancon on your holiday in Besancon, and find out what else Besancon has to offer, use our Besancon.
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  • The site itselves is really beautiful. But the whole experience when wearing masks when it's really hot is not great. Wearing masks in an outside environment is totaly pointless, especially when it's....  more »
  • We went to see the citadel and in particular the resistance museum which we had to find out after having climbed the steep hill is temporarily closed. I went on the website a few days earlier and...  more »

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