and the timepieces

by Bert Schwarz

Nestled in a meander of the river Doubs, one finds the cultivated and very attractive capital of the Franche-Comté. And it has remained refreshingly reserved and untouristic, despite the monumental buildings such as the Citadel or France's first public library. In Gallic-Roman times, Vesontio (which over the centuries developed into Besançon) was an important hub of international trade where Italy, the Alpine region and the Rhine were connected.

Besançon and the timepieces

Story, Camera, Editor : Bert Schwarz

© travel-magazine TV 2017

Stories from Franche-Comté
Who knows Les Dombes?
Around 300 m above sea level the Dombes are a rather flat place.
Nestled in a meander of river Doubs, Here's the cultivated and very attractive capital of Franche-Comté.
The medieval town centre is known for its extraordinary floral splendour and its preserved buildings.
a place practically unchanged since the Middle Ages.
a tranquil place on the banks of the Saône with a number of amazingly impressive buildings.
a small, quiet village right in the middle of the Dombes region.

It dominates the city from Mount St Etienne, 120 m high above the old town, the 17th century Citadelle de Besançon - designed by Vauban for Louis XIV. From here, the view sweeps over the city and the meandering Doubs River. Together with 11 other buildings by Vauban, it was added to the Unesco World Heritage List in 2008.

Besancon Zitadelle © Bert Schwarz

The Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation is one of the most in-depth and important museums on the Second World War. Some of the photographs on display are not for young people. - Nearby, the Musée Comtois presents the daily life of the past centuries.

If you don't feel like going uphill, take the Ginkobus line 17 (€1.30) from the city centre or the car park. The line runs up to five times an hour from April to mid-October.

Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie

France's oldest public museum was founded in 1694 and is famous for its Gallic-Roman archaeological finds, its Cabinet of Designs with around 6,000 drawings from the 15th to the 20th century, including the masterpieces of Dürer, Delacroix and Rodin and his paintings from the 14th to the 20th century, especially of Titian, Rubens, Goya and Matisse.

Porte Noire

Built in 175 in honour of Marcus Aurelius, this triumphal arch is located near the columns of a Roman theatre and an aqueduct that was only found in 1870 and is still recognizable. This site documents the importance of Besançon since Roman times.

Besancon Porte Noire © Bert Schwarz


Musee du Temps.

Besancon Musee du Temps © Bert Schwarz

A typical Renaissance building in Franche-Comté, the Palais Granvelle was restored between 1988 and 2002 to house the Musée du Temps. It shows the history of Besançon, scientific themes and (mechanical) watch technology.

The Palais Granvelle, a family house:

The Palais Granvelle used to be the home of a rich family of lawyers from Franche-Comté, of whom Nicolas Perrenot, born around 1486, the was Karl V's first advisor and friend. His son was born in 1517 and was also in the service of his son, Philip II of Spain. The Granvelles collected art and books at their residence in Besançon. In the 17th century, after the extinction of the Granvelle family, the collection was made public. various cultural projects were installed in the house until a museum was installed in the 50s of the 20th century. that tells the story of the city. In 1988 the renovation of the building site could no longer be postponed, the work began and the In 2002 the Palais became the Le Musée du Temps.

Musee du Temps © Bert Schwarz

Time is the link between history and its measurement, timepieces, clocks ... which was initially taken from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts and that of the city's history. In the 19th century, Besançon was the undisputed capital of the French watch industry and influenced by Swiss watchmakers.

Today this industry still fills a niche and is far removed from its former size. But they still exist, the watchmakers in Besançon. And we met one of them. Philippe Lebru not only designs wristwatches, but also large watches with balance pendulums.