Visit Belfort (Franche-Comte, France)
Belfort is a town on a plateau between the Jura mountains (to the south) and the Vosges mountains (to the north), in the Franche-Comte region of eastern France (hence close to the border with Switzerland). The town is the capital of the small Territoire de Belfort department.
While not the most visited part of France, Belfort itself has some interesting features that make a detour to the town worthwhile, based around the historical centre.
The most notable monument, that dominates the town, is the Belfort Citadel. The citadel has protected this important route since the 17th century, with the fortifications improved by Vauban in the 17th century. A visit inside the fortress is a good way to understand the structure and the strength of the defences, which are extremely substantial, while it is in aerial photos that you can best see the characteristic pentagonal structure of the Vauban fortifications.
The citadel was then further reinforced in the early 19th century, with a ring of defences a couple of kilometres outside Belfort, parts of which can be seen for example at the Fort du Salbert.
Below the citadel there is a very large (more than 20 metres long) statue of a lion. The Lion of Belfort was constructed at the end of the 19th century by Auguste Bertholdi (creator of the Statue of Liberty) to celebrate Belfort's attempts to hold back the Prussian invasion of France in 1870 (at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war). The lion is a famous local monument and symbol of the courage of the occupants of Belfort. Another Bertholdi work can be seen in the Place de la Republique in Belfort: the Monument des Trois Sieges.
After admiring the main highlights, stroll around the historical heart of Belfort - there are some interesting and attractive buildings in the old town, often painted in decorative colours; large open squares with cafes and bars; and a good selection of shops etc. Among the highlights are the market hall, in Rue Frery; the old grain hall in Place des Bourgeois; the 17th century Porte de Brisach (the surrounding walls are 18th century); and the town hall and roman style Belfort cathedral.
The town has a good selection of museums covering a wide range of interests, particularly related to local history and the arts. the Museum of Modern Art includes works by such notable modern painters as Picasso, Braque and Leger.
Close to Belfort
The southern Vosges region is an attractive area offering lots of outdoor opportunities, centred around the so-called Ballon d'Alsace and surrounding natural regional park. Alternatively head south of Belfort and into the Jura mountains to admire some very lovely sceneery and viewpoints.
The leisure lake at Malsaucy is popular during the summer months.
One other site close to Belfort are the caves at Cravanche (grottes de Cravanche) although they have very limited opening hours (at the time of writing, they are open during the French days of patrimony only: the third week in September).
Photos taken within 10 km
Tourist classifications for Belfort
Belfort is classified as a village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*
Address: Belfort, Territoire-de-Belfort, Franche-Comte, 90000 || GPS: latitude 47.637942, longitude 6.862813
Map of Belfort & places nearby
Highlights close by
Ronchamp chapel 19km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Belfort, France
- Roseraie du Chatelet - remarkable garden (9km)
- Rougegoutte - ville fleurie 4* (11km)
- Montbeliard - ville fleurie 4* (15km)
- Masevaux - ville fleurie 4* (18km)
- Ballon d'Alsace - site of natural beauty (21km)
- Mandeure - ville fleurie 4* (21km)
- Moffans-et-Vacheresse - ville fleurie 4* (24km)
- Thann - recommended detour (26km)
- Hirtzbach - ville fleurie 4* (27km)
- Parc de Wesserling - remarkable garden (29km)
Market days in Belfort: Regular market(s) are held in Belfort each Wednesday & Thursday & Sunday & Monday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Belfort (Francais)