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The most striking thing about Besançon is its position on a bend in the river Doubs, which doubles back on itself almost making an island. The whole city is looked over by a fortified hill.

This unusual landscape has strongly influenced the destiny of the town, a strategic defense site that was fought over by those in power. The striking citadel built by Vauban, the impressive Hôtel de Ville, and the superb town houses lining the streets of the Battant and Boucle districts are proud reminders of the town's prestigious past.