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An aerial view of Belfort with the Cathedral of Saint-Christophe in the foreground
Blason ville fr Belfort (Territoire-de-Belfort).svg
Location of Belfort
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Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region location map.svg
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Coordinates: 47°38′N6°51′E / 47.64°N 6.85°E / 47.64; 6.85
Country France
Region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Department Territoire de Belfort
Arrondissement Belfort
Canton 3 cantons
Intercommunality CA Grand Belfort
  Mayor (20202026) Damien Meslot [1]
17.10 km2 (6.60 sq mi)
106.8 km2 (41.2 sq mi)
633.2 km2 (244.5 sq mi)
 (2021) [2]
  Density2,600/km2 (6,800/sq mi)
 (2018 [3] )
  Urban density740/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
 (2018 [3] )
  Metro density210/km2 (550/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
90010 /90000
Dialling codes 0384
Elevation354–650 m (1,161–2,133 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.

Belfort (French pronunciation: [bɛlfɔʁ] ; archaic German : Beffert, Beffort) is a city in northeastern France, situated approximately 25 km (16 mi) from the Swiss border. It is the prefecture of the Territoire de Belfort. [4]


Belfort is 400 km (250 mi) from Paris and 55 km (34 mi) from Basel. The residents of the city are called "Belfortains". The city is located on the river Savoureuse, 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 46,443 inhabitants (2019). [5] Belfort is the centre of a larger functional area (metropolitan area) with 133,597 inhabitants (2018), [3] between the larger metropolitan areas of Mulhouse and Montbéliard.


25 November 1944: a French woman exclaims to a neighbor and American soldier: "Tout Belfort est libre" (All Belfort is free). Frenchwoman exclaims to neighbor and to American soldier, "Tout Belfort Est Libre" (All Belfort is liberated). - NARA - 531223.tif
25 November 1944: a French woman exclaims to a 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 many times in its history.

The site of Belfort was inhabited in Gallo-Roman times. Later, it was heavily settled by Germanic peoples during the Germanic migrations, most notably the Burgundians, who settled in the region after the Gallo-Roman inhabitants had been displaced. 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.

Franco-Prussian War

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) during the Franco Prussian war was successfully resisted by the French until the garrison was ordered to surrender 21 days after the armistice between France and Prussia ended the war. The region was not annexed by Prussia like the rest of Alsace was. It was exchanged for 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 not wanting to live under German rule in annexed Alsace and who wanted a French life and home in Belfort made a significant contribution to Belfort and French industry (see Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques) after 1872.

1892 Paris-Belfort running race

On 5 June 1892, Le Petit Journal organised a foot-race from Paris to Belfort, a course of over 380 km (240 mi), 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 ten days. In Le Petit Journal on 18 June 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. [6] [7]

World War One

The town was bombarded by the German Army during World War I. [8] Before the war, the September Programme of German Imperial Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, pressed for expansionist aims of French territory, specifically advocated the annexation of the Belfort region along with the western side of the Vosges Mountains. [9]

World War Two

After the 1940 Battle of France with the German victory, Belfort fell within the Nazi German occupation zone. In November 1944, the retreating Wehrmacht 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. It is believed that Adolf Hitler intended to annex Belfort into the German Gau Baden–Alsace, but it never took place.



Belfort has a oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb). The average annual temperature in Belfort is 10.1 °C (50.2 °F). The average annual rainfall is 1,122.3 mm (44.19 in) with December as the wettest month. The temperatures are highest on average in July, at around 19.2 °C (66.6 °F), and lowest in January, at around 1.2 °C (34.2 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded in Belfort was 38.0 °C (100.4 °F) on 13 July 1949; the coldest temperature ever recorded was −21.4 °C (−6.5 °F) on 10 February 1956.

National average1,973770142240
BelfortN/A1,121.230.625.941.8 [11]
Paris 1,661637121810
Nice 2,7247671291
Strasbourg 1,693665292956
Brest 1,6051,21171275

Climate data for Belfort (1981–2010 averages, extremes 1946−2013)
Record high °C (°F)16.9
Mean daily maximum °C (°F)3.8
Daily mean °C (°F)1.2
Mean daily minimum °C (°F)−1.5
Record low °C (°F)−20.6
Average precipitation mm (inches)97.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)12.311.112.310.813.011.010.410.69.811.912.213.4138.9
Source: Météo France [12]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 4,593    
1800 4,400−0.61%
1806 4,210−0.73%
1821 4,738+0.79%
1831 5,753+1.96%
1836 5,687−0.23%
1841 5,617−0.25%
1846 6,664+3.48%
1851 7,847+3.32%
1856 7,510−0.87%
1861 8,101+1.53%
1866 8,400+0.73%
1872 8,030−0.75%
1876 15,173+17.24%
1881 19,336+4.97%
1886 22,181+2.78%
1891 25,455+2.79%
1896 28,715+2.44%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1901 32,567+2.55%
1906 34,649+1.25%
1911 39,371+2.59%
1921 39,301−0.02%
1926 40,516+0.61%
1931 42,511+0.97%
1936 45,625+1.42%
1946 37,387−1.97%
1954 43,434+1.89%
1962 48,070+1.28%
1968 53,214+1.71%
1975 54,615+0.37%
1982 51,206−0.92%
1990 50,125−0.27%
1999 50,417+0.06%
2007 51,327+0.22%
2012 50,102−0.48%
2017 47,656−1.00%
Source: EHESS [13] and INSEE (1968-2017) [14]


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 hosting the GE Power European headquarters and a centre of excellence for the manufacturing of gas turbines.


"All united for Belfort." Demonstration for Alstom against the loss of 6,500 jobs. 2016-09-24 14-50-28 manif-belfort.jpg
"All united for Belfort." Demonstration for Alstom against the loss of 6,500 jobs.
Belfort in the road and train network of Franche-Comte FRANCHE COMTE TRANSPORT 2.jpg
Belfort in the road and train network of Franche-Comté


Like many other European cities, the volume of road traffic in Belfort continues to increases and dominates transport. [15] 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.


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

SNCF station of Belfort-Ville Gare de Belfort.JPG
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 links 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. [16] 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. [17]

Local transport

Cyclists in Belfort Piste cyclable-Cycling tracks, Belfort.jpg
Cyclists in 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

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.


Lion of Belfort LionBelfortEtChateau.jpg
Lion of Belfort
The Belfort Synagogue erected in 1857 2011-09-06 14-09-55-synagogue-belfort.jpg
The Belfort Synagogue erected in 1857



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


FIMU in 2013. FIMU 2013.jpg
FIMU in 2013.

Belfort is also well known for hosting the annual Festival International de Musique Universitaire (FIMU)held in May each year. [19] 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.

Notable people


Belfort was the birthplace of:

International relations

Belfort is twinned with: [20]

See also

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  2. "Populations légales 2021". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2023.
  3. 1 2 3 Comparateur de territoire, INSEE, retrieved 20 June 2022.
  4. Commune de Belfort (90010), INSEE
  5. Téléchargement du fichier d'ensemble des populations légales en 2019, INSEE
  6. Randonneurs Ontario, Profile of Pierre Giffard
  7. "La Marcha De Gran Fondo: Entre La Competicion Y El desafio, By Bernardo José Mora". Archived from the original on 26 September 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  8. Catastrophe 1914, Europe Goes to War, Max Hastings, chapter 5, "Death with Flags and Trumpets", Knopf, New York, 2013.
  9. "Bethmann Hollweg, Germany's War Aims". Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  10. Paris, Nice, Strasbourg, Brest
  11. "Normales climatiques 1981-2010 : Belfort". Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  12. "Climate of Belfort 1981-2010" (PDF) (in French). Météo-France . Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  13. Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Belfort, EHESS (in French).
  14. Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  15. "Mobilité et transports" (PDF). Agence d'Urbanisme du Territoire de Belfort (in French). 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  16. "La liaison Belfort-Delle" (in French). Facs. 2009. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  17. "La liaison Épinal-Belfort" (in French). Facs. 2009. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  18. La Citadelle de la Liberté, a new way of visiting Belfort's magnificent citadel Archived 2 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in French)
  19. FIMU Music festival website (in French)
  20. "Villes jumelées". (in French). Belfort. Retrieved 21 November 2019.