Besançon, feasability/advisability study of acces to the citadel

Greater Besançon council - June 2011 / September 2012


The Citadel of Besançon is built on top of a rock closing the neck of the oxbow formed by the River Doubs. This steep-sided plateau covers an area11.2 hectaresand is located approximately120 metresabove the level of the river and town centre, and371 metresabove sea level. 

More than 230 000 visitors visit the Citadel annually. The topography of the site and its highly seasonal attendance generate problems of access, especially as the capacity of parking close to the entrance of the site is not sufficient to meet the needs of visitors in high season. Thus, the Greater Besançon council, which is in charge of public transport, decided to carry out a survey on access to the Citadel.

The n ° 17 bus service  runs to the Citadel all year round using standard 70-seater  vehicles departing from  the Chamars  car park (at the Saint-Jacques transit hub). Although this service is invaluable, it depends on people arriving by car and is badly co-ordinated with other public transport. In addition, this bus service can only meet part of the demand during the high season.  

To boost this service, the CAGB would like to implement a new, more environmentally-friendly means of access which is both innovative and attractive, and which would help make Besançon more popular nationally and even on a European level.

The CITEC Engineering Consultants (Ingénieurs Conseils) (Geneva-Switzerland) is currently carrying out an advisability and feasibility study for a relevant mode of transport for both visitors and employees to access the site.. An analysis of different modes of transport gave the following results:

The car (46.1%) is the most widely used means of transport to the Citadel, followed by bus (29.9%) and on foot (22.7%). Not many people come by bike or motorbike.  As the visit of the Citadel takes an average of 3 to 4 hours, there is a very low turnover rate of cars in the Citadel car park.

The CITEC consultancy has put forward proposals for new means of public transport. Local councilors are currently interested in three of the suggestions, namely:-

  1. an interior lift with double horizontal access from the river canal  tunnel,
  2. an exterior lift  connecting the Rivotte Gate to the Rue des Fusillés, then escalators taking you up to the Citadel,
  3. an automatic cable car connecting the Rivotte Gate to the  Saint-Étienne Front.

Accurate financial estimates (investment and operating costs) are currently under development and will enable local councillors to select a potential mode of transport.


Positive aspects

A new means of access to the site would help enhance the attractiveness of the Citadel of Besançon. However, the problem is very complex - accessibility has been a recurrent issue for several decades now.