OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES: A WAY OF LIFE SHARED BY 15 MILLION FRENCH PEOPLE
Outdoor living, from family walks to extreme sports, has become a way of life and a means of getting in touch with nature. Seeking greener pastures and the opportunity for self-reflection, more and more city-dwellers are taking on hikes, treks, urban strolls, book-inspired journeys, trail running and outdoor living in general.
With a vast range of outdoors activities and a network of local organizations, Greater Besançon supports and showcases nature activities in the area.
GREATER BESANÇON : AN IDEAL AREA FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Divided by a river with landscaped banks, Greater Besançon is located at the foothills of the Jura and boasts unique geographic features conducive to outdoor activities. The city of Besançon, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Vauban fortifications, is surrounded by seven hills offering landscapes for a wide variety of quality activities.
With an altitude range of almost 400 m and crisscrossed by major trails such as the Besançon “belt” hiking path, the Via Francigena and EuroVelo 6, our playground also offers some 125 miles of motor-free travel itineraries and over 600 miles of marked trails accessible to walkers, hikers and mountain bikers eager to discover the area’s hidden treasures.
Suffice to say that the area caters to all levels and tastes. From the most zealous walkers to city-dwellers in search of a light stroll, everyone will find something to suits their taste. And they won’t be sorry, as most of these trails have lookout points with breath-taking views of the best that nature has to offer !
Greater Besançon is definitely geared for biking! The EuroVelo 6 is a route linking Nantes to Budapest, allowing tourists to cycle across the area from West to East. This itinerary also allows locals to cycle smoothly along the river on a fairly flat cycle path. There are a dozen bike shops in the area, proof that the locals are mad about cycling. These shops are enjoying a boom in business thanks in part to the success of e-bikes. The area hosts sporting events of the highest level in all cycling disciplines, including the Tour de France, the French Cyclo-Cross Championship and the BMX European Cup. It also boasts a number of sports associations and training structures, such as the French mountain bike centre.
The Doubs River, with its landscaped banks dotted with water activity centres and riverside stops, runs through Greater Besançon and lets you enjoy a vast range of sporting activities or just an outing on the water. The “wave” at La Malate dam is an internationally renowned spot for freestyle kayaking.
Three hang-gliding sites make it possible to paraglide overlooking the city, the summits of the Jura mountains and the highest Alpine peaks. It takes only ten minutes to reach the take-off zones from the heart of the city of Besançon.
Between water and sky : VERTICALITY
Associations like the French Alpine Club and Entretemps invite you to discover climbing and offer lessons to achieve excellence. The world-class climbing gym has just opened !
GREATER BESANÇON, A LAND OF CERTIFIED OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
- UNI’VERT TRAIL Athletics Federation certification : on 14 October 2018, Greater Besançon became the first nationally certified territory for its permanent running trails. This recognition from the federation testifies to the quality of the Grandes Heures Nature project developed by Greater Besançon and, in particular, its ability to meet the needs of trail runners in the area.
- AFNOR certification : Greater Besançon is the only intermunicipality to have contributed to the drafting of the first AFNOR standard for trail running, which awards national recognition. The AFNOR/Trail running agreement was officially handed over to Greater Besançon at the latest Mayors’ Fair.
THE 6 GRANDES HEURES NATURE SPORTING AMBASSADORS
Six top-level athletes from Greater Besançon, where they have found the quality of life and training requisites for their achievements, will be “ambassadors” for outdoor activities.
CALENDAR OF “GRANDES HEURES NATURE” SPORTING EVENTS
Events organized by sports associations in the area or by Besançon Council
- APRIL: VTT de la Dame Blanche, with some 1,300 mountain biking and hiking participants, from Châtillon-le-Duc, through Chailluz forest and the foothills of the Dame Blanche fort
- APRIL: the Diagonale du Doubs welcomes 2,500 participants on mountain bikes and road bikes on all the hiking trails, leaving from the Saone River. This is Greater Besançon’s second biggest sporting event in terms of participants
- MAY: the Trail de Montfaucon, a sporting event on Labour Day (May 1st), which attracts over 1,300 participants each year
- MAY: the Trail des forts, Eastern France’s biggest trail race with some 5,000 participants
- JUNE: the Raid Handi’Forts is an adventure race open to schoolchildren and people with disabilities and welcomes 500 competitors
- JUNE: the Paratriathlon Vauban takes place at Osselle watersports centre. This event is staged for triathletes with disabilities from around 15 countries. One of a kind in our area, this is one of the only international disabled sports events in the region.
- JULY: the Panora’Trail takes you on a discovery of the Chailluz forest in Besançon
- SEPTEMBER: the Sapinette de Nancray offers hikes and mountain bike treks
- SEPTEMBER: the Trail Ins’Pirey charity trail run
- NOVEMBER: The Urban Night Trail Run organized by Besançon’s Alpine Club. This is a charity race. The organization supports associations that help children in hospital and their families.
NEW EVENT : GRANDES HEURES NATURE FESTIVAL
In an area rich in heritage and unspoilt nature, Grandes Heures Nature will welcome 15,000 people over 3 days, from 5 to 7 June 2020, for its new outdoor festival:
- A fair to discover brands, test products and enjoy the latest innovations
- A programme of events in all disciplines for young and old with 20 hikes and sporting challenges
- An entertainment village
- Test and initiation areas
- Spectacular sports shows
- Topical conferences and concerts…