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Universite de technologie de Belfort-Montbeliard



Damien Meslot

Points of interest
Lion of Belfort, Belfort Cathedral, Fort du Salbert

Belfort is a city in north-east France in the Franche-Comte region, situated between Lyon and Strasbourg. It is the biggest town and the administrative town of the Territoire de Belfort departement in the Franche-Comte region. 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 Zurich. The residents of the city are called ‘’Belfortains’’. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhone – the Belfort Gap (Trouee de Belfort) or Burgundian Gate (Porte de Bourgogne). The city of Belfort has 50,199 inhabitants. Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Belfort forms the largest agglomeration (metropolitan area) in Franche-Comte region with an urban population of 308,601 inhabitants.


Map of Belfort

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Belfort in the past, History of Belfort

Belforts strategic location, in a natural gap between the Vosges and the Jura, on a route linking the Rhine and the Rhone, has attracted human settlement and made it a target for armies.

Belfort in the past, History of Belfort

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

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

Until 1871, Belfort was part of the departement 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. Because this part of Alsace was French-speaking, while the rest of Alsace was German-speaking, the area around Belfort was not annexed by the Prussians. It formed, as it still does, the Territoire de Belfort. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Frederic Bartholdi.

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

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 the French First Army before the town until French Commandos made a successful night attack on the Salbert Fort. Belfort was liberated on 22 November 1944.


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


  • Belfort is the home of the Lion of Belfort, a sculpture (that expressed peoples resistance against the siege in the Franco-Prussian War (1870)) by Frederic 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 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 Liberte" (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.
  • Culture

    Belfort Culture of Belfort

    Belforts best known cultural event is the annual Eurockeennes, one of Frances largest rock music festivals.

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