The Art and History town of Dole, nicknamed ‘Little Venice of the Jura’ is a harmonious combination of canals and old houses dominated by a collegiate church. The historic centre of the town is particularly well preserved and a listed conservation area.
The little promenade along the Canal des Tanneurs is a lovely place for a romantic stroll. Louis Pasteur, inventor of a vaccine against rabies, was born in this neighbourhood in 1822. The walk reveals many historic buildings including the 16th century collegiate church of Notre Dame with its 73m high belltower. The views from the top are superb ! The interior of the church is impressively large, emphasising the simple Late-Gothic architecture. The furniture and decorations, donated by the noblest citizens of the town, are the first Renaissance works in Dole.
The magnificent organ has 3,500 pipes and is one of the rare examples from the 18th century in France. In 1951 the church was raised in status to that of a minor basilica. Following a major restoration project over the past 20 years, the church today is an absolute gem to visit.
Dole, Renaissance Hôtel-Dieu, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Palais de Justice...
The Hôtel-Dieu is an imposing building, typical of the Renaissance style of Dole in the 16th and 17th centuries. Its vocation was to care for the sick, particularly the poor who were unable to be cared for at home. Its architecture is remarkable in more ways than one. Visitors can discover the galleried courtyard, main staircase, apothecary’s dispensary and the Mother Superior’s office. The hospital was operational for several centuries and became the town library in 2000. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, installed in the former Pavillon des Officiers (officers’ mess), is a fine example of 18th century Franche Comté military architecture. Its collections cover local archaeological discoveries, medieval art from Burgundy and Franche Comté, French paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries and modern art from the 1960s onwards. The birthplace of Louis Pasteur is also a museum devoted to his father’s tannery as well as objects from his day-to-day and scientific life. Different displays deal with all the fields of research covered by the illustrious scientist. Dole has many other buildings to discover, like the Collège de l'Arc converted into a Lycée (high school), the ancient Couvent des Carmélites (convent), the Chapelle des Jésuites, Palais de Justice (formerly the Couvent des Cordeliers) and mansions such as Hôtel Froissard and Hôtel de Champagney. Other more surprising attractions include « Le Chat Perché » a discovery trail through the town centre, named after the author Marcel Aymé who grew up in Dole and wrote Contes du Chat Perché. The Fresque des Dolois in the Rue de la Sous-Préfecture is an award-winning, trompe l’œil mural in honour of men and women who marked the history of Dole over the past 10 centuries.