Gordon: After 19 days of riding, covering 1150 kilometres, we are taking a rest day in Besançon. The ride from Dole was glorious, as we followed the Doubs River and associated canals upstream through the foothills of the Jura Mountains. At one point we paused for an excursion through a canal tunnel that has been turned into a work of visual art, as well as maintaining its original function.
Besançon is located on an oxbow in the river and cyclists and boats enter the city on another 400 metre tunnel that crosses the neck of the oxbow, passing under the old city.
Besançon is situated on a natural defensive site that has been occupied since Neolithic times. It has UNESCO world heritage status for the 17th century fortifications, designed by Vaubin, located on the heights above the city. We spent about 4 hours there this morning. We are not that interested in 17th century defensive structures, but there are a surprising number of attractions within the fortified walls. A visitor first notices that the site has been put to creative use when crossing the dry moat between two defensive walls: it houses a troupe of Gelada monkeys (a baboon like monkey from the Ethiopian highlands). Inside the inner walls of the fortress is a zoo, an aquarium, a noctarium (of night animals), a folk museum for the region, a museum of the resistance, and the list goes on. We passed the greatest portion of our time in the zoo, which has a great collection of primates, many quite rare in the wild.