The capital of the Territoire de Belfort, the smallest department of France created in 1922, the city is located in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, in the Belfort Gap. The latter is a plateau connecting the Vosges and the Jura, but is also an easy passage between the Alsace plain and the Rhone Valley. Surrounded by hills, Belfort enjoys a natural environment that is ideal for outdoor activities: hiking, cycle tourism, water sports, golf, etc.
Yet the city has above all been shaped by its history and in particular by its resistance to Prussia and annexation by Germany, starting in 1870. From its past as a strategic and defensive city, Belfort has kept its reputedly impenetrable citadel and its ramparts, designed by Vauban in the 17th century.
From the fortifications, you can enter the citadel or head to the old town via the Brisach Gate, which has symbols of royalty, fleur-de-lys and King Louis XIV’s motto on top of it. At the foot of the citadel, the famous Lion of Belfort, carved from pink sandstone by Auguste Bartholdi between 1875 and 1879, is a monument measuring 22 metres in length and 11 metres in height. It has a lookalike statue on Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris and seems to be guarding the city.
Sights to see include the La Miotte Tower in the Belfort Heights, once part of a medieval castle and offering a beautiful view of the city and the Vosges; the Cathedral of St. Christopher, an imposing monument built from pink sandstone in the 18th century; the pretty Place de la Grande Fontaine; and the Museum of Fine Arts, based in an old fortified tower. There are pretty town squares with cafés all around the city.
Belfort also hosts a major festival, Les Eurockéennes, in early July at a site by Lake Malsaucy, 6 kilometres from the city. It puts on an average of 75 concerts each year, in a wide range of musical styles: rock, electro, metal, reggae, pop, folk and more.
Les Entrevues de Belfort, a festival that supports young, independent filmmakers, takes place at the end of the year.