Besancon - France

Besançon, known as the town of art and history, is the capital of the Franche-Comte region in eastern France. Located close to the border with Switzerland and 100 km (60 miles) east of Dijon, it sits on the Canal du Rhône au Rhin within an oxbow of the Doubs River, surrounded by hills and forested countryside. The town is dominated by its citadel and its triple ring of ramparts. Inside you will find a zoo and museums which feature natural history, agricultural tools, folklore and the Nazi resistance movement. The historic centre below the citadel boasts the St-Jean Cathedral and next door the famous Astronomical Clock (1860), indicating not only the hours, but the seasons, tides, and movements of the planets. Other sights include the Porte Noire, a triumphal arch once called the Gate of Mars, the Grand Rue, Revolution Square and the Granvelle Palace. Crossing the river is the Battant bridge, Roman with five arches. This is also the birthplace of Victor Hugo and his house is one of the many beautiful town houses dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.