Community full menu: Twinning: Besançon
Besançon - General description
Policy and Governance Service - March 2008
General description of the
Besançon is situated in the east of France close to the Swiss and German
borders. Besançon is the capital of the Franche-Comté region which is made
up of four different "départements, " these being the Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône
and the Territoire de Belfort. Besançon is the administrative centre for
Enclosed by a bend in the river Doubs, Besançon has grown up at the foot
of the hill where the Vauban Citadelle was built, in an exceptional defensive
site. The geographical constraints of the location have shaped the development
of the town through the centuries. The town has been, at various times throughout
its history, a military fort, a garrison town, a political and a religious
centre. The two most important periods in the history of Besançon have been
the sixteenth century, when, under the protection of Charles Quint, the
town became free from the Germanic Empire and the eighteenth century when
the town became French. These two periods in the history of the town also
greatly influenced the urban landscape of the town, giving Besançon its
architecture that shows Gothic, Renaissance and Classical traits. This is
reflected by the tall buildings with their sloping roofs, built from the
local, blue tinted chalky stone from the Chailluz area of Besançon.
Besançon offers an exceptional quality of life, with green spaces of forests,
parks and gardens covering an area of 2390 hectares. Besançon has lots of
sporting and cultural attractions taking place in its numerous stadiums,
swimming pools, gymnasiums, museums, exhibition halls and theatres and indeed
attracts sporting and cultural events of a national and indeed international
Main economic sectors:
The service sector is the most important economic sector, employing 47 000
people and representing 75% of Besançon's economic activity. The other 25%
of the workforce of Besançon are involved in industry. Since 1793, when
Mégevand started up his clock-making factory, the know-how of Besançon's
population has been able to adapt to the development of technology, thanks
to its ingenuity and its willingness to learn new skills. Nowadays, Besançon
as well as being the capital of clock making is the largest centre for metal
pressing in France and the European heart of microtechnology.
As a centre of European metal pressing the development of this kind of industry
in Besançon has been characterised by the setting up of factories that combine
both micro engineering and metal pressing, often manufacturing very specific
products for which they are leaders on the international markets. The micro
technology industry has had a knock on effect on professional studies and
specialist research in the town, which is now geared to innovative automation
and micro robotics, which is absolutely essential for the long term development
and productivity of the industry in Besançon.
A world centre for chronological instruments - The laboratory for chronological
electronics works under contract for both the European Space Agency and
NASA. The Spaceship Voyager is equipped with instruments developed and manufactured
Besançon is an international centre forbio-medical development - 25 companies
and 43 university laboratories work in this field.
The world watch making centre - France is the leading watch making country
in the European Union and nowadays, 75% of this industry is centred around
Besançon and the Haut-Doubs. The watch makers enjoy a world famous reputation
and the big names of fashion call on their expertise to design and manufacture
their time pieces.
1. National education authorities.
2. Hospital services.
3. The Town Hall and Social Services.
4. Casino (Supermarket chain)
5. The Post Office.
6. France Telecom
7. Maty ( Mail order watch and jewellery firm)
8. FCI ( Framatome Connectors International)
9. SNCF (French Railways)
10. Fralsen (Watch makers)
11. R. Bourgeois (Precision engineering)
12. EDF ( Électricité de France)
13. Crédit Agricole (bank)
Main natural resources:
Wood - (for use as both a material and an energy source): the Franche-Comté has the highest level of forest covered area in France. The use of wood
as an energy source has been the subject of much development in the region.
The Franche-Comté is a pilot region for France in this field.
Water - (both drinking and as an energy source): hydro-electricity is produced
from rivers in the region by several power stations. The mineral rich water
of certain areas is used for thermal cures because it is the salt in the
water, which gives it its therapeutic qualities. Salt, itself, however,
is no longer mined in the region.
The minerals iron and coal are present in the Franche-Comté but are not
mined commercially for reasons of profitability.