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Besançon, France

About Our Sister City

Sorrounded by a beautiful river. Home to France's first museum. Site of the 18th-century Vauban citadel. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Charlottesville Sister City since 2006.

Encircled by the Doubs River and set in exceptionally beautiful surroundings, Besançon is a city of art and history. It won the title of France's "greenest city". Once controlled by the Spanish, Besançon still displays extensive fortifications built by the well known architect Vauban. Capital of Franche-Comte, Besançon is the economic and cultural pole of the region. In the 19th Century, the city became the center of France's clock and watch-making. It is now a major European center of the precision industries sector (microtechnology, robotics, etc). It has an important university, a Center of intensive language studies, drawing students from all over the world. Besançon has a rich cultural life and has always been a music loving city. From June to September, "Festivité" offers all kinds of festivals (music, theater, dance, exhibitions, etc.). The city has first-class sports facilities. There is something for everyone: hiking, golf, cycling, horseback riding, canoeing, and more.

Besançon (archaic German: Bisanz, Spanish: Besanzón), is the capital and principal city of the region of Franche-Comté in eastern France. It had a population of about 220,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 1999. Located close to the border with Switzerland, it is the capital of the department of Doubs.

Thanks to its rich historical and cultural heritage and its unique architecture, Besançon has been labeled a "City of Art and History" since 1986, and has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 2008.

A Besançon Project

A French international trade major spends six weeks in Charlottesville finding common interests between the two Sister Cities.

Hailing from Montebeliard, France, Loic Mazet, 22,  received a Charlottesville Sister Cities grant to explore similarities and differences between our two cities and prepare video presentations to acquaint local residents with French culture. He found similarities in our mountain ranges, rich histories, and proximity to major cities: Drive 2.5 hours from Besançon and you'll arrive in Paris. Drive 2 hours north from Charlottesville, and arrive in Washington, D.C.

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