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Besançon and the Time

Besançon and the Time

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 untourist, despite the monumental buildings such as the Citadel or the 18th century city and France's first public library. In Gallo-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 linked.

Besançon et le temps

Author, Camera, Edit : Bert Schwarz

© mag-voyages TV 2017
© mag-voyages TV 2017

It dominates the city from Mount St Etienne, 120 metres 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 meanders along the meandering Doubs River. Together with 11 other buildings by Vauban, it was added to the Unesco World Heritage List in 2008.

The Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation is one of the deepest and most 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 line 17 of the Ginkobus (€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

The oldest public museum of France 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 by Titian, Rubens, Goya and Matisse. But we will have to wait until mid-2018, when it will be renovated.

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.

The Time

Musee du Temps.

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 house for the family

The Palais Granvelle was once the home of a rich family of lawyers from Franche-Comté, of whom Nicolas Perrenot, born around 1486, was Charles 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 in their residence in Besançon. In the 17th century, after the extinction of the Granvelle family, the collection was opened to the public, various cultural projects were installed in the house, until in the 50s of the 20th century a museum was installed to tell the history of the city. In 1988, it was not possible to postpone the renovation of the building site, work began and in 2002 the History Museum was transformed into the Palais Le Musée du Temps.

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, who not only designs wristwatches, but also designs and produces large watches with balance pendulums: Philippe Lebru.

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