Studying abroad isn’t easy at first. I’ll say that much. So this Top 10 is for all of those planning to study abroad in Besançon next semester or anytime in the future, based on my own personal experiences. I’m hoping this list will help you out and allow you to check out some cool spots that this fun, little city has to offer, from restaurants to bars to clubs. Each is a necessity, and if I could include more, believe me I would. Unfortunately, I have to limit myself here, and this is a pretty good start.

10. La Mez

Let me just start by saying that anyone who studies abroad in Besançon needs to go to this infamous night club at least once. Think of it as Besançon’s equivalent to New Paltz’s Oasis … except bigger and filled with not just one but multiple rooms occupying different DJs of varying musical styles. La Mez and Oasis are one in the same, which, if you’ve at least been to Oasis, you’ll understand why La Mez is stuck here at No. 10. The two are each an experience in and of themselves. Make sure you and your friends are more than a little bourré beforehand.

9. Big Ban

Though this may be a chain, it is one of the most convenient places in town, and you sure get a lot of bang for your buck (or in this case euro). For nothing more than 7 euro you get a big, delicious sandwich. Try the saucisse de morteau with chèvre or Comté cheese. You won’t regret it.

8. Le Madigan’s

Located right in the center of Place du Huit Septembre, this pub is a great place to go no matter the occasion. They often play good music, too, and have fun drinks like the Russian Kiss.

7. Le Coucou

This franc-comtois restaurant has a light, farmy feel with red and white checkered table cloths and napkins and incredible regional delicacies. It’s a little bit pricier, which is why it isn’t higher on my list, but it is definitely worth it if you’re in the mood to splurge on an authentic meal in good company.

6. Le Privé 

I spent one of my favorite nights at this gay nightclub located right down the road from the CLA and Resto U, two other places people studying in Besançon will become very familiar with. But Le Privé is just so fun. They play the best dance music, have a smoke room and even have glow in the dark drinks. People there are always ready to chat and party all night, too.

5. Café des Félins

I was lucky enough to live right across the street from this awesome cat cafe. They have a bunch of different treats, both sweet and savory. Even better: they have lots of cats walking around ready to be pet and loved by none other than toi.

4. Bar de l’U

When I studied in France, I didn’t take advantage of the convenience of this university bar located more or less behind my apartment. This is a great place to meet more international students and French students alike. This bar also has different themed nights, such as Tuesday game nights or Afro Funk night, among many others.

3. La Boîte À Crêpes

This is a cute and tiny crêpe restaurant located on Rue Ronchaux. This was my friends and I’s restaurant of choice when we wanted to go out to eat. Lots of varieties of crêpes, from sweet to savory to flambées. Not to mention it was pretty inexpensive. We went here frequently enough that the waiter started to recognize us.

2. Bar des Arcades

This place is just plain fun and the owner-cum-bartender is so chill it hurts. If you ask her if you can control the music, she will let you put on just about anything, no questions asked. This place also has so many varieties of flavored beer, its speciality. There’s banana, blueberry, cotton candy, peach, caramel and chocolate beers and so many others you can choose from.

1. Bêtises et Volup’thé

This restaurant/tearoom might just be the cutest place I’ve ever been. Its fluffy, light and bubbly decor make it feel like it’s right out of a fairytale. They also offer up some of the best teas and hot chocolate that side of Le Doubs, and have everything from decadent, chocolate desserts to hearty potato and sausage-filled franc-comtois meals. It’s a great place for any occasion and any time of day, especially if you need a pick-me-up. They even give you chocolates in the shapes of teddy bears, stars or doves as well as a discount and “surprise” treat every time you come back with the receipt from your last visit.

This story first appeared in The New Paltz Oracle on December 8, 2016.

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