Surrounded by the river Doubs on three sides and by a steep bluff on the fourth, Besangon (pop. 120,000) has intrigued military strategists from Julius Caesar to the great military engineer Vauban 1800 years later. Today, Besangon boasts a smart, sexy student population and an impressive number of museums and discos. See the city’s Renaissance buildings from high up in the Vauban’s citadel, at the end of r. des Fusilles de la Resistance. Within the citadel, the Musee de la Resistance et de la Deportation chronicles the Nazi rise to power and the German occupation of France. Other sights include a natural history museum, a zoo, an aquarium, and a folk arts museum. ( 03 81 65 07 54. Open July-Aug. daily 9am-7pm; Sept.-June reduced hours. Closed Tu Nov.-Eas-ter. 7, students 6.) The Cathedrale St-Jean, beneath the citadel, holds two treasures: The white marble Rose de St-Jean and the intricate 19th-century Horloge Astronomique. (Open M and W-Su 9am-6pm. 2.50. Students and under-18 free.) The Musee des Beaux-Arts et d’Archeologie, on pl. de la Revolution, houses an exceptional collection ranging from ancient Egyptian mummies to works by Matisse, Picasso, and Renoir. (03 81 87 80 49. Open M and W-Su 9:30am-12:30pm and 2-6pm. 3. Students free, Su and holidays free.) The area between rue Claude Pouillet and rue Pont Battant buzzes with nightlife. UCarpe Diem, 2 pl. Jean Gigoux, is a hotspot that brings together students and non-students for drinks and discussion, with events and concerts held regularly. (03 81 83 11 18. Beer 2. Open M-Th 7am-lam, F-Sa 7am-2am, Su 8am-llpm. MCA7. ) Shoot pool at the surprisingly hip Pop Hall, 26 r. Proudhon, ( 03 81 83 01 90. Beer 2. Open Su-Th 2pm-lam, F-Sa 2pm-2am.)

Trains pull up at the station on av. de la Paix (08 36 35 35 35) from: Dijon (lhr. 22 per day, 12); Paris (2hr. 8 per day, 43); and Strasbourg (3hr. 10 per day, 27). Monts Jura buses, 9 r. Proudhon (03 81 21 22 00), go to Pontarlier (lhr. 6 per day, 8). From the station, walk downhill; turn onto av. Marechal Foch, and continue to the left as it becomes av. de l’Helvetie, until you reach pl. de la Premiere Armee Frangaise. The vieille ville is across the pont de la Republique; the tourist office, 2 pl. de la Premiere Armee Frangaise, is in

Being in France and drinking wine go hand in hand. Perhaps in a less heralded wine region you could avoid looking like an amateur, but the wine lists along the Route du Vin are a bit more daunting. It’s time to learn if that wine was a premiere etwee or just a bouquet of walnuts and old socks:

Gewurztraminer: This dry, aromatic white wine has been called “The Emperor of Alsatian wines.” Drink it as an aperitif with foie gras, pungent cheeses, or Indian, Mexican, or Asian cuisine.

Riesling: Considered one of the world’s finest white wines, Riesling is fruity, very dry, and accompanies white meats, choucroute, and fish.

Sylvaner: From an Austrian grape, Sylvaner is a light, slightly sparkling white wine that goes well with seafood and salads.

Muscat: A sweet and highly fruity white wine, often an aperitif.

The Pinot family: Pinot Blanc is an all-purpose white wine for chicken, fish, and all sorts of appetizers; Pinot Gris is a smoky, strong white wine that can often take the place of a red wine in accompanying rich meats, roasts, and game; and Pinot Noir, the sole red wine of the Alsatian bunch, tastes of cherries and complements red meats the park to the right. (08 20 32 07 82; Open Apr.-Sept. M 10am-7pm, Tu-Sa 9am-7pm, Su lOam-noon; Oct.-Mar. reduced hours.) Check email at T@cybernet, 18 r. de Pontarlier. (03 81 81 15 74; 3.60 per hr. Open M-Sa llam-lOpm, Su 2-8pm. MCV.) For the Foyer Mixte de Jeunes Travailleurs (HI) 0, 48 r. des Cras, take bus #7 or night line A (both 0.90) from pi. Flore (dir.: Orchamps, 3-5 per hr.). To get to pi. Flore bus stop, cross the parking lot of the train station and head down the stairs. Take the road in front of you that heads slightly to the left (av. de la Paix), and keep to the left as the road bends and turns into r. de Belfort. Turn right onto av. Carnot, walk for a block until you see the green lights of the pharmacy in pi. Flore, and take a sharp left onto r. des Chaprais. This friendly hostel has concerts, movies, and other special events, as well as free Internet access in the lobby. (03 81 40 32 00; fax 03 81 40 32 01. Singles 17; doubles 25. AmExMCV.) Hotel du Nord 0, 8-10 r. Moncey, has clean rooms in a quiet but central location, (a 03 81 81 35 56; fax 03 81 81 85 96. Breakfast 4.60. Singles and doubles with shower or bath 30-52; triples and quads with shower 54. AmExDMCV.) A variety of restaurants line rue Claude-Pouillet. Buy groceries at Monoprix supermarket, 12 Grande Rue. (Open M-Sa 8:30am-8pm.)

DAYTRIP FROM BESANQ0N: PONTARLIER AND THE JURA. The sedate town of Pontarlier (pop. 18,400) is a good base from which to explore the oft-over-looked Haut-Jura Mountains. The Jura are best known for cross-country skiing; nine trails cover every skill level. (Day pass 6, under-17 3.50; available at the Le Lar-mont and Le Malmaison trails.) Le Larmont is the closest Alpine ski area ( 03 81 46 55 20). In summer, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking are popular. Monts Jura buses (81 39 88 80) run to Besangon (lhr. 6 per day, 8). The tourist office, 14 bis r. de la Gare, has guides and maps. ( 03 8146 48 33; fax 03 81 46 83 32. Open July-Aug. M-Sa 9am-6pm, Su lOam-noon; Sept.-June M-Sa 9am-6pm.) Postal Code: 25300.


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