—  Prefecture and commune  —
An aerial view of Belfort with the cathedral of Saint-Christophe in the foreground

Coat of arms
Country France
Region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Department Territoire de Belfort
Arrondissement Belfort
Canton 3 cantons
Intercommunality CA Grand Belfort
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Damien Meslot
Area1 17.10 km2 (6.60 sq mi)
Population (2011)2 50,128
 • Density 2,900/km2 (7,600/sq mi)
 • Urban (2008) 112,336
INSEE/Postal code 90010 / 90000
Dialling codes 0384
Elevation 354–650 m (1,161–2,130 ft)
(avg. 358 m or 1,175 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Belfort (French pronunciation: [bɛl.fɔʁ]) is a city in northeastern France in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté région, situated between Lyon and Strasbourg. It is the biggest town and also the administrative centre of the Territoire de Belfort département. Belfort is 400 km (249 mi) from Paris, 141 km (88 mi) from Strasbourg, 290 km (180 mi) from Lyon and 150 km (93 mi) from Zürich. The residents of the city are called "Belfortains". The city is located on the Savoureuse river, on a strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap (Trouée de Belfort) or Burgundian Gate (Porte de Bourgogne). It is located approximately 16 km (10 mi) south from the base of the Ballon d'Alsace mountain range, source of the Savoureuse. The city of Belfort has 50,199 inhabitants.[1] Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Belfort forms the largest agglomeration (metropolitan area) in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region with an urban population of 308,601 inhabitants.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

November 25, 1944: a French woman exclaims to neighbor and American soldier: "Tout Belfort est libre" (All Belfort is free).

Belfort's strategic location, in a natural gap between the Vosges and the Jura, on a route linking the Rhine and the Rhône, has attracted human settlement since Roman times, and has also made it a frequent target for invading armies.

The site of Belfort was inhabited in Gallo-Roman times. It was subsequently recorded in the 13th century as a possession of the counts of Montbéliard, who granted it a charter in 1307.

Previously an Austrian possession, Belfort was transferred to France by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years' War. The town's fortifications were extended and developed by the military architect Vauban for Louis XIV.

Until 1871, Belfort was part of the département of Haut-Rhin, in Alsace. The Siege of Belfort (between 3 November 1870 and 18 February 1871) was successfully resisted until the garrison was ordered to surrender 21 days after the armistice between France and Prussia. The region was not annexed by Prussia like the rest of Alsace and was exchanged for other territories in the vicinity of Metz. It formed, as it still does, the Territoire de Belfort. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Frédéric Bartholdi.

Alsatians who sought a new French home in Belfort made a significant contribution to its industry (see Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques).

The town was bombarded by the German army during World War I and occupied by it during World War II. In November 1944 the retreating German army held off the French First Army outside the town until French Commandos made a successful night attack on the Salbert Fort. Belfort was liberated on 22 November 1944.

Paris-Belfort running race[edit | edit source]

On 5 June 1892, Le Petit Journal organised a foot-race from Paris to Belfort, a course of over 380 kilometers, the first large scale long distance running race on record. Over 1,100 competitors registered for the event and over 800 started from the offices of Le Petit Journal, at Paris Opera. This had also been the start point for the inaugural Paris–Brest–Paris cycle-race the previous year. The newspaper's circulation dramatically increased as the French public followed the progress of race participants, 380 of whom completed the course in under 10 days. In Le Petit Journal on June 18, 1892, Pierre Giffard praised the event as a model for the physical training of a nation faced by hostile neighbours. The event was won by Constant Ramoge in 100 hours 5 minutes.[3][4]

Economy[edit | edit source]

Belfort is a centre for heavy engineering industries, mostly dedicated to railways and turbines. Belfort is the hometown of Alstom where the first TGVs (Trains à Grande Vitesse, High Speed Trains) were produced, as well as being the GE Energy European headquarter and a centre of excellence for the manufacturing of gas turbines.

Transport[edit | edit source]

"All united for Belfort." Demonstration for Alstom against the loss of 6,500 jobs.

Belfort in the road and train network of Franche-Comté

Road[edit | edit source]

Like many other European cities, the volume of road traffic in Belfort continues to increases and dominates transport.[5] Belfort is situated at only 25 mi (40 km) from the commercial port of Mulhouse-Rhin which allows international trade. The motorway A36 from Beaune to Mulhouse follows a route to the south and east of the city, and forms the main axis linking Belfort to other French and European cities. N19 is another major route which joins the south of Belfort with Paris, Nancy and Switzerland.

Air[edit | edit source]

EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is located about 60 km (37 mi) east of Belfort (1 hour drive).

Rail links[edit | edit source]

SNCF station of Belfort-Ville

Belfort is well connected with the rest of France, with direct connections by train to major destinations such as Paris, Dijon, Besançon, Mulhouse, Strasbourg, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier and Lille, including high-speed trains. Some trains operate into Switzerland, such as Basel and Zürich stations. There is also a train service to Frankfurt am Main in Germany.

Regional services connect Belfort to Montbéliard, Besançon, Mulhouse, Vesoul, Épinal and Nancy.

From 2017, regional trains will connect Belfort with Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station using the new Belfort–Delle railway link. This service will link Belfort and the surrounding area to Switzerland, and the high-speed train link will connect Swiss towns such as Delémont, Bern, Fribourg and Lausanne to Paris and other cities.[6] Before 2020, the service Épinal-Belfort will be electrified and modernized. This will allow a link between LGV Est and LGV Rhin-Rhône in Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station, opening new destinations like Nancy, Metz and Luxembourg.[7]

Local transport[edit | edit source]

File:Piste cyclable-Cycling tracks, Belfort.jpg

Cycling is a good way to explore the beauty of nature around Belfort

A local bus network Optymo operates within Belfort ( Tickets can be bought from any newsagent in the city, or a bus passenger can send a sms 'BUS' to 84100 and show the confirmation sms as a ticket.

Cycling tracks[edit | edit source]

The region of Belfort already offers around 70 km (43 mi) of cycling tracks with more under construction. Visit the local tourist office for information on the latest additions including the 'Coulée verte' to the west, malsaucy-giromany to the north and the Euro Velo 6 about 20 km (12 mi) to the south. There are many organised cycling events, offering the opportunity for people to explore the area in the company of an official guide.

Sights[edit | edit source]

Lion of Belfort

The Belfort Synagogue erected in 1857.

  • Belfort is the home of the Lion of Belfort, a sculpture (that expressed people's resistance against the siege in the Franco-Prussian War (1870)) by Frédéric Bartholdi – who shortly afterwards built the Statue of Liberty in New York.
  • The Belfort Citadel - A unique example of Vauban pentagonal fortifications.
  • The Belfort Cathedral, 18th century
  • The Belfort Synagogue erected in 1857.
  • The old town
  • The Belfort city museums are structured within three main poles:
    • History (from archeology to military) in the old barracks on the top of the citadel.
    • Art (mainly from 16th to 19th century) in the Tour 41.
    • Modern Art in the Donation Jardot.
  • Since July 2007, a tourist sight of the citadel has been open to the public – with a sound-, video- and light-animated trail in the moats and the big underpass of the citadel. Its name: "La Citadelle de la Liberté" (Citadel of Liberty).
  • By climbing on a tall building or going up the nearby mountains on a clear day, the ice-capped mountains of the Alps in Switzerland can be seen.
  • Grand souterrain de la citadelle de Belfort- An underground passage of Belfort Citadel.[8]

Culture[edit | edit source]

Eurockéennes[edit | edit source]

Belfort's best known cultural event is the annual Eurockéennes, one of France's largest rock music festivals.

FIMU[edit | edit source]

FIMU in 2013.

Belfort is also well known for hosting the annual Festival International de Musique Universitaire (FIMU) held in May each year.[9] FIMU usually involves over 250 concerts at different locations around the city and around 2500 musicians, most of them students or amateur groups from countries across Europe and the rest of the world. Music styles performed are extremely diverse and include traditional, folk, rock, jazz, classical and experimental.

Personalities[edit | edit source]

Births[edit | edit source]

Belfort was the birthplace of:

Deaths[edit | edit source]

International relations[edit | edit source]

Belfort is twinned with:[10]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ "Population légale par commune". INSEE. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Population légale 2009". AUTB. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Randonneurs Ontario, Profile of Pierre Giffard
  4. ^ La Marcha De Gran Fondo: Entre La Competicion Y El desafio, By Bernardo José Mora
  5. ^ "Mobilité et transports" (in French). Agence d'Urbanisme du Territoire de Belfort. 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "La liaison Belfort-Delle" (in French). Facs. 2009. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "La liaison Épinal-Belfort." (in French). Facs. 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  8. ^ La Citadelle de la Liberté, a new way of visiting Belfort's magnificent citadel Script error: No such module "webarchive". (French)
  9. ^ FIMU Music festival website (French)
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Belfort - Les Relations Internationales" (in French). Belfort Mairie. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  11. ^ "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in Ukrainian). City of Zaporizhia. Шановні відвідувачі і користувачі сайту. Archived from the original on 2012-08-03. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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