BESANCONS, FRANCE/EUROPE - SEPTEMBER 13: Astronomical Clock in Cathedral of St Jean in Besancon France on September 13, 2015; Shutterstock ID 323711300; full: digital; gl: 65050; netsuite: pot; your: Barbara Di Castro

Shutterstock / Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB

Horloge Astronomique


The base of 18th-century Cathédrale St-Jean's bell tower houses an incredible astronomical clock, powered by 11 weights, that has run the church's bells since its installation in 1860. The ornate gadget has 30,000 moving parts and 57 clock faces and, among other things, tells the time in 16 places around the world and indicates the tides in eight different French ports.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Besançon attractions

1. Cathédrale St-Jean

0.01 MILES

The earliest parts of Besançon's cathedral date to 1127. Though heavily modified in ensuing centuries, following a 13th-century fire and the collapse of…

2. Porte Noire

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Erected in AD 175 in honour of Marcus Aurelius, this 16.5m-high Roman triumphal arch stands very near where the columns of a Roman theatre and the…

3. Maison Natale de Victor Hugo

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This spiffy museum gives an engaging account of the life and works of Besançon's best-known literary son, Victor Hugo, famous for masterpieces such as Les…

4. Citadelle de Besançon

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Dominating the city from Mt St-Etienne, more than 100 vertical metres above the old town, the 17th-century Citadelle de Besançon – designed by Vauban for…

5. Musée du Temps

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Literal and figurative interpretations of time are woven together at the Musée du Temps, which places allegorical paintings about the passage of time next…

6. FRAC Franche-Comté

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Behind the chequerboard timber façade of this riverside gallery are ever-changing contemporary art exhibitions. The distinctive building, FRAC's home…

7. Hôtel de Ville

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Dating in its earliest parts from the late 14th century and later decorated with Italian Renaissance-style flourishes, Besançon's town hall was gutted by…

8. Parc Micaud

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Created in the 19th century, this leafy promenade is the ideal spot to stroll by the Doubs River and it's popular with local cyclists. It's a good place…