Gray is a town in the Haute-Saône department in Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, 45 km north-west of Besançon.
The locality which enjoys a central position between the poles of Dijon, Besançon, Dole and Vesoul, on the borders of the historical regions of Burgundy in the west and Franche-Comté in the east developed from second millennium.
A "low" town on the banks of the river, the Saône, and a "high" town formed of a castle town on the dominant plateau, took a further boom since the thirteenth century, the whole city being fortified and has a university while trade is encouraged.
The sixteenth century and the Renaissance are synonymous with golden age. River trade is dynamic, many buildings are built. Gray, which was also a spiritual center (convents and pilgrimages) in the 17th century, continued to expand in the 19th century (warehouses and commercial port to export agricultural production, cereals and livestock). With a population of 6,000 inhabitants, rich in historical heritage and a quality environment conducive to sport and leisure activities, the city has also turned its attention to tourism.
Member of the network of Cities of Character of Burgundy Franche-Comté, Gray is a step of choice.
Gray offers the visitor a high quality architectural heritage whose main elements can mark a pleasant discovery walk connecting the two centers of the city, in the upper and lower town.
One can cite thus the old medieval castle of which survive the crenellated tower and ramparts. It was transformed into a residence after the annexation of Franche-Comte to France in 1674 and was the property of the Comte de Provence, brother of Louis XVI. It was decorated with carved ceilings, carved woodwork, parquet floors, marble fireplaces and 'an Ice Show. It is still altered after the Revolution by Baron Alexander Martin and became the possession of the city in 1901. It now houses the Baron Martin Museum, devoted to art and archeology. There is a collection of works from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century (notably signed by the masters of the Flemish school), archaeological treasures from the region (in the cellars) and exceptional exhibitions devoted to major contemporary artists (Dalí, Chagall, Buffet). Entrance: 5 and 6 euros. Information on +33 3 84 65 69 10.
Gray also has a splendid town hall erected from 1567 to 1572. Its main façade, about 37 m long, has two bays punctuated by Corinthian-style columns composed in particular of red marble from the Jura. The facade opens onto the square via nine arcades. The roof is spectacular, covered with polychrome varnished tiles of pure Burgundian tradition.
Also worth noting is the Notre-Dame Basilica, which dominates the city. Completed in 1559, restored in 1996, its nave is covered with a ribbed star-shaped vault, a gothic flamboyant style unique in the region. Inside, two stained glass windows, one of which evokes the miraculous statuette of the Madonna and Child, the object of pilgrimages in the 17th century. An alabaster statue from the 16th century, an organ from the 17th century, and paintings from the 17th century also enrich the ensemble.
It will include the 1849 Italian theater restored in 2006, with a magnificent radiant ceiling illustrated with muses and bacchantes and in a different register the Hôtel-Dieu (XVIIIth) according to a plan in the form of Greek cross. It houses an interesting chapel and an apothecary decorated with woodwork where its preserved more than a hundred pots pharmacy faience or wood dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.
The numerous convents established in the city have left some beautiful testimonies. The chapel of the Jesuits, the doors of the convents of the Ursulines and the Annonciades or Carmelites... As for the Carmelite chapel, it now functions as a departmental repository of sacred art and offers exhibitions of permanent or temporary collections. Information on +33 3 84 65 69 10.
At last, along the streets, several remarkable houses attract the eye. The Hotel Gauthiot d'Ancier (16th century), and its wooden staircase enclosed in an oak cylinder pivoting on itself, the house of the Rue des Terreaux covered with a glazed tile roof (1566) the Hôtel de Conflans and its polygonal staircase tower or the public attic (XVIth), with a Renaissance door, are good examples.
For guided tours or documentation to discover these different sites and the public gardens of the city, contact the +33 3 84 65 18 15.
In terms of culture, mention should also be made of the remarkable Museum of Natural History (collections of herbarians, fossils, rocks or minerals). Organization of ornithological exits. Information on +33 3 84 65 69 10.
It is also possible to make a detour through the amazing Esperanto Museum: archives, documentation and exhibitions in connection with the international language. Contact the +33 6 21 51 38 69.
A step or a stay in Gray also allow to enjoy its environment.
There are many possibilities for hiking or cycling. Documentation and information at +33 3 84 65 18 15.
For the pleasures of swimming and relaxation, the indoor swimming pool of the Capucins (information: +33 3 84 65 00 17) and the nautical base of Christian Bergelin (pools and play equipment) are available. Open from June to September. For further information, please call +33 3 84 65 02 45.
On the Saône, the river stop has a boat rental point. Information on +33 4 68 94 42 40.
For the practice of the kayak, please call +33 6 86 96 19 37.
Last but not least, fishing enthusiasts can find out about developed sites and regulations at +33 3 84 76 51 41.
Early May, over three days, Rolling festival Gray program of jazz and rock concerts.
The second weekend of October, fishing fair.
The last weekend of November, book fair.
At the beginning of December, over three days, the Voix-La festival is dedicated to voice: shows, concerts, happenings...
In addition, the region's rich terroir (cheeses, charcuterie, Burgundy or Jura wines) is highlighted every Saturday morning at the weekly market, Sauzay market, and during the monthly fair, the second Wednesday of the month, avenue of the Capuchins (in July, the fair doubles a competition of horses Comtois).