(bĕl-fôr') pronunciation

A city of northeast France near the German-Swiss border. It was frequently besieged because of its strategic location near Belfort Gap between the Vosges and the Jura Mountains. Population: 50,200.

Belfort (bāfôr', bĕ-, bĕl-), city (1990 pop. 51,913), capital of the Territory of Belfort (a department), E France, in Alsace. An important industrial and transportation center, it has large cotton mills and metalworks. A major fortress town since the 17th cent., it commands the Belfort Gap, or Burgundy Gate, between the Vosges and the Jura mts., thus dominating the roads from France, Switzerland, and Germany. An Austrian possession, Belfort passed to France by the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and was fortified by Vauban. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) the garrison withstood a siege of 108 days. Partly in acknowledgment of this heroism, the Germans left Belfort and the surrounding territory to France when they annexed the rest of Alsace. The many Alsatians who then took refuge in the town contributed significantly to its industrial growth. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Bartholdi.


France-90-Belfort-Belvedere ouest.jpg
Belfort is located in France
Country France
Region Franche-Comté
Department Territoire de Belfort
Arrondissement Belfort
Canton Cantons of Belfort-Centre, Belfort-Est, Belfort-Nord, Belfort-Ouest, and Belfort-Sud
Intercommunality Belfortaine
Mayor Étienne Butzbach
Elevation 354–650 m (1,161–2,130 ft)
(avg. 358 m or 1,175 ft)
Land area1 17.10 km2 (6.60 sq mi)
Population2 50,199  (2009)
 - Density 2,936 /km2 (7,600 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 90010/ 90000
Dialling code 0384
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Coordinates: 47°38′30″N 6°51′00″E / 47.6417°N 6.85°E / 47.6417; 6.85

Belfort (French pronunciation: ​[bɛl.fɔʁ]) is a city in north-east France in the Franche-Comté région, situated between Lyon and Strasbourg. It is the biggest town and the administrative town of the Territoire de Belfort département in the Franche-Comté region. Belfort is located at 400 km (249 mi) from Paris, 141 km (88 mi) from Strasbourg, 290 km (180 mi) from Lyon and 150 km (93 mi) from Zürich. The residents of the city are called ‘’Belfortains’’. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap (Trouée de Belfort) or Burgundian Gate (Porte de Bourgogne). The city of Belfort has 50,199 inhabitants.[1] Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Belfort forms the largest agglomeration (metropolitan area) in Franche-Comté region with an urban population of 308,601 inhabitants.[2]



Belfort's strategic location, in a natural gap between the Vosges and the Jura, on a route linking the Rhine and the Rhône, has attracted human settlement and made it a target for armies.

The site of Belfort was inhabited in Gallo-Roman times and was subsequently recorded in the 13th century as a possession of the counts of Montbéliard, who granted it a charter in 1307.

Previously an Austrian possession, Belfort was transferred to France by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), that ended the Thirty Years' War. The town's fortifications were extended and developed by the military architect Vauban for Louis XIV.

Until 1871, Belfort was part of the département of Haut-Rhin, in Alsace. The Siege of Belfort, between 3 November 1870 and 18 February 1871, was successfully resisted until the garrison was ordered to surrender 21 days after the armistice between France and Prussia. Because this part of Alsace was French speaking, while the rest of Alsace was German speaking, the area around Belfort was not annexed by the Prussians. It formed, as it still does, the Territoire de Belfort. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Frédéric Bartholdi.

Alsatians who sought a new French home in Belfort made a significant contribution to its industry (see Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques).

The town was bombarded by the German army during World War I and occupied by it during World War II. In November 1944 the retreating German army held the French First Army before the town until French Commandos made a successful night attack on the Salbert Fort. Belfort was liberated on 22 November 1944.


Belfort is a trading centre for wine and grain and its industries include chemicals, engineering, plastics and textiles. Belfort is also the hometown of Alstom where the first TGVs (Trains Grande Vitesse) were produced. As well as of the GE Energy European headquarter and centre of excellence for the manufacturing of gas turbines.

Transport and communication

Belfort in the road and train network of Franche-Comté

Main highways

Like many other European cities, motor traffic in Belfort increases continually and dominates transport.[3] Belfort is situated at only 25 miles from the commercial port of Mulhouse-Rhin which allows international transit. Motorway A36 from Beaune to Mulhouse is routed around the south and east parts of the city. It forms the main axis linking Belfort to other French and foreign cities. A national road, N19, is another main road which joins the south of Belfort with Paris, Nancy and Switzerland.

Rail links

SNCF station of Belfort-Ville

A lot of trains arrive in Belfort. Since the 11th December 2011, national and international TGV serve Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station which is now a part of LGV Rhin-Rhône. They allow to join Paris, Dijon, Lyon, Strasbourg, Bâle and Mulhouse. Classic regional and national trains complete this offer to Montbéliard, Besançon, Mulhouse, Vesoul, Épinal and Nancy. After 2015, regional trains will desserve Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station on Belfort - Bienne link. This service will open Belfort and its area to Switzerland and towns like Delémont, Bern, Fribourg and Lausanne.[4] Before 2020, the service Épinal-Belfort will be electrified and modernized. This will allow a link between LGV Est and LGV Rhin-Rhône in Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station, opening new destinations like Nancy, Metz and Luxembourg.[5]

Local transport

A local bus network operates within the city. The name of service is Optymo. You can find the updated details in the following site. Tickets can be bought from any newsagent in the city. Alternatively, a user can send a sms 'BUS' to 84100 and show the confirmation sms as a ticket.

Cycling tracks

Cycling is a good way to explore the beauty of nature around Belfort

The region of Belfort already has cycling tracks of around 70 km and still more are under construction. Visit tourisme office for the latest cycle tracks. Coulée verte in the west, malsaucy-giromany in the north and the Euro Velo6 is just around 20 km to the south. Numerous cycling events are organised,enabling people to explore the area in the company of an official guide.


  • Belfort is the home of the Lion of Belfort, a sculpture by Frédéric Bartholdi expressing people's resistance against the siege in the Franco-Prussian War (1870) – who shortly afterwards built the Statue of Liberty in New York.
  • The Belfort Citadel - A unique example of Vauban pentagonal fortifications.
  • The Belfort Cathedral, 18th century
  • The old town
  • The Belfort city museums are structured within three main poles:
    • History (from archeology to military) in the old barracks on the top of the citadel.
    • Art (mainly from 16th to 19th century) in the Tour 41.
    • Modern Art in the Donation Jardot.
  • Since July 2007, a touristic sight of the citadel has been open to the public – with a sound-, video- and light-animated trail in the moats and the big underpass of the citadel. Its name: "La Citadelle de la Liberté" (Citadel of Liberty).
  • If one climbs on a tall building or high grounds like mountains nearby, on a clear day, we could see the ice-capped mountains of Alps in Switzerland.
  • Grand souterrain de la citadelle de Belfort- An underground passage of Belfort Citadel.




Belfort is also well known for organizing a large-scale music festival in May each year. The Festival International de Musique Universitaire[7] (FIMU) is home to nearly 2500 musicians, most of them students, from many different countries. The musicians give more than 250 concerts in the course of the 3-day festival in a wide variety of styles (classical, jazz, traditional, experimental, etc.). All of the concerts are free of charge and are performed at 14 different locations in the old city (the vieille ville) of Belfort. In 2004 more than 60,000 people attended the festival. In 2005 the festival was held on 14–16 May. This should not be confused with the Eurockeenes festival held there in July each year.


  • The Eurockéennes which is one of France's largest rock music festivals.
  • The Belfort Tattoo Convention which remains after 14 years of existence is the oldest convention of France.[8]



Belfort was the birthplace of:


  • Léon Delarbre, painter – known from his drawings for the Shoah camps

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Belfort is twinned with:[9]

See also


External links

Post a question - any question - to the WikiAnswers community:


Mentioned in

Territory of Belfort (department, France)
Befort (family name)
Delle (family name)
Delles (family name)