Sundial Trail in Besançon

This page proposes a pedestrian walk, in the historical center of Besançon, in order to discover 10 superb sundials. While walking in the streets from a sundial to another, you'll be able to admire most of the architectural and cultural heritage of Besançon. The duration of this walk is approximately one hour to one hour and a half.

Print the map, the instructions and all related pages on each sundial, prepare your camera, good shoes and possibly a tourist guide on Besançon, and good walk!


The starting point is located in front of the Faculty of Medicine, rue de l'Orme de Chamars. If you arrive by car, park in the underground City Hall carpark (100m), or on the free carpark of Chamars (300m). If you arrive by bus, take line n°1.

Before starting with the first dial, have a look on the monumental gate of the Saint-Jacques hospital, on the other side of the street. This hospital have buildings dated from the 16th century.

1) The dial of the faculty of medicine

From the carpark in front of the faculty, enter through the porch to the faculty. Walk towards the building located on the left hand side. In the middle of its facade you'll see an engraved vertical declining sundial.

Read the details about this sundial.

2) The sundial of City Hall esplanade

Get out by the left side of the building where the previous sundial is installed, and walk on the esplanade on approximately 200 m towards rue Mégevand. After the line of lime trees, take the stairs on the right of the fountain, in front of the parking output door. The sundial is installed on the wall of the building in front of you.

Read the details about this sundial.

3) The sundial of the courthouse

Continue to walk towards rue Mégevand then turn right on 50 mètres, then enter the small street called rue du Palais de Justice. Before the end of the street, take on the left on rue Hugues Sambin between the courthouse and the city hall. The sundial is high on the wall on your left when you stand on the courthouse stairs.

Read the details about this sundial.

4) The sundial of the humanities school, 30 rue Mégevand

Come back on rue Mégevand and follow it until the next traffic light. Cross the street and take the right side of the street. After the church, you'll find the entrance door of the faculté de lettres which will take you to a small courtyard. The sundial is on the side of the church, almost invisible.

View the photo of this sundial.

5) The sundial of Palais Granvelle

Get out of the building and take rue de Lacore along the theater towards Place Granvelle. Cross the garden towards the Palais Granvelle. Above the restaurant, you may see a disc attached to three rods.

Read the details about this sundial.

6) The sundial of Hôtel du Boutoiset

Walk accross the Palais Granvelle then turn on right in Grande Rue and continue until its end, on Place Victor Hugo in which you can see the birth house of the famous poet Victor Hugo. Continue on rue de la Convention and walk under the roman arch (from 2nd century). 50 meters after the arch, you'll see the porch on the side of Saint-Jean cathedral. Turn on yourself to watch the roof of the opposite building. Hour lines of a sundial are painted around a window on the roof.

View the photo of this sundial.

You shall visit the cathedral which dates from the 12th century on its oldest parts. You may also visit the astronomical clock, one of the most beautiful in France, dated 1860.

If you don't want to climb to the citadelle, you can jump to sundial #8. The next sundial is not very nice and those of the citadelle require to buy an entrance ticket to the citadelle.

7) The sundial of the CRDP

Follow rue de la Convention then rue des Fusillés towards the Citadelle. At the number 6 of the street, on the left after the porch, is installed a small sundial whose style is bent.

View the photo of this sundial.

7a & 7b) The sundials of the Citadelle

You may continue to the Citadelle where you'll see two painted sundial badly deteriorated. Of course, the Citadelle is worth a visit, for its museums (museum of the war resistance and deportation, museum of traditions, agrarian museum), and for its zoo and its insectarium as well as its fortificationsoffering a stunning view on the Doubs river.

View the first sundial of the Citadelle.
View the second sundial of the Citadelle.

8) The sundial of the university headquarters

Go back to the Roman arch and turn on the right on Square Castan. You can see Roman remainings (columns, stones) in this square. Continue on rue des Martelots, then on rue des Granges. Continue after crossing rue de la République until you reach Place du marché, a large square in front of the Art Museum. Pass in front f the museum and turn on the right on rue Goudimel. On the opposite building, you can see a large sundial on the facade.

Read the details about this sundial.

9) The sundial of the gallery of Saint-Esprit

Continue on the same street until the Temple. The gallery is a very small pedestrian street behind the temple, but its entrance was closed recently and requires a code to enter. The sundial is high on the wall.

View the photo of this sundial.

10) The meridian dial of La Madeleine church

Exit from the gallery and turn on the left toward the river bank. Follow the Quai Vauban until the bridge called Pont Battant. Take a moment to admire the river banks and the old facades, or the tower called Tour de la Pelote which contains now a restaurant. Cross the bridge and enter the church which is on the left in front of you. The meridian dial is on the left after the entrance porch.

Read the details about this sundial.

11) The sundial of the Lycée Pasteur

Exit from the church and cross again the bridge, then take the street on the right, called rue Claude Pouillet. At the end of the street, turn on the left. The school is on the right. You may ask at the gate if you can enter but you will probably need to see the sundial from the street, rue Girod de Chantrans. The trees may hide the sundial so it is best seen in winter.

Read the details about this sundial.

End of the trail

Continue on rue du Lycée then turn on the right on rue de l'Orme de Chamars to come back to the starting point.

I hope you enjoyed this trail. Don't hesitate to send me your comments and suggestions.


- "L'heure au Soleil, cadrans solaires en Franche-Comté" de F. Suagher, P. Perroud et J.P. Marchand, Editions Cêtre, ISBN 2-901040-95-8
- Sundial catalogue from the Société Astronomique de France
- IGN map, blue series, #3323E
- Map of Besançon
- Green Michelin guide #15, Jura - Franche-Comté

Continue with next page: » Sundials of the Doubs District (France)