Old Besançon
About-France.com

FRANCHE-COMTÉ tourism information 

About-France.com - a thematic guide to France

The Franche Comté region is a beautiful rural area of eastern France that has a lot to offer in terms of natural environment, historic heritage, museums and sites. Lying between Burgundy and Alsace, and between Champagne and Switzerland, it is possibly the most underrated of all French regions, in terms of tourism and holiday potential.

Historic Besançon - capital of Franche-Comté
Photo: © About-France.com


Franche Comté - made famous to UK TV-viewers as the birthplace of celebrity chef Raymond Blanc - consists of four departments, Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône and Territoire de Belfort

Question: where exactly does Raymond Blanc come from?  Answer, the village of Saone, lying on the first plateau of the Jura, just 5 miles southeast of the Franche-Comté capital Besançon. Saone itself is not a particularly interesting place to visit - but the nearby summit of Montfaucon offers spectacular views out over the  plains towards Burgundy, and up to the crests of the high Jura. On a clear day, you can even see as far as Mont Blanc and the Alps. And Besançon itself is one of France's hidden gems.  See main article.


Montfaucon, near Besançon
Autum day on the summit of Montfaucon,
 just outside Besançon.

Ornans, in the Loue Valley
Ornans in the Loue valley, near Besançon

The regions of France
Alsace
Aquitaine
Auvergne
Brittany
Burgundy
Centre
Champagne
Corsica
Franche Comte
Ile de France (Paris region)
Languedoc-Roussillon
Limousin
Lorraine
Midi-Pyrénées
Nord – Pas-de-Calais
Normandy
Pays de la Loire
Picardy
Poitou-Charentes
Provence
Rhone-Alpes
Map of France

Cirque de la Consolation
A deep Jura valley
 
Peugeot museum Montbéliard
In the Peugeot motor museum, Montbéliard

Winter scene Haut Doubs
Winter sports in Franche-Comté - Nordic skiing in the Haut Doubs




Photos: about-france.com
unless otherwise indicated

A short guide to Franche-Comté

Page index  Regional information Main tourist attractions Regional specialities
Map of Franche-Comte Franche-Comté consists of four departments; in the north lies the Haute Saone (70) mostly a deeply agricultural area, with small towns and villages, low hills and valleys, but rising into the foothills of the Vosges mountains to the east. In the centre of the region, between the Haute-Saône and the Swiss border is the department of the Doubs (25), consisting of a series of plateaux and hilly ridges rising from 200 metres in the north to 1200 metres on the Swiss border. In the south of the region, the department of the Jura (39) covers part of the broad flat Saône valley, plus the central part of the Jura mountains, peaking at over 1500 metres on the Swiss border. Finally, in the north of the region lies the smallest of all French departments (except Paris), the territoire de Belfort, an area that was for centuries the French-speaking part of Alsace. This department is quite industrialised, and the area roung Belfort and Montbéliard is the home of the Peugeot car group.
Besancon citadelle
View across the rooftops of old Besançon, to the Cathedral and Vauban's citadel (UNESCO world heritage site)
      The capital of Franche-Comté is Besançon, a historic city nestling beneath its ancient citadel in a loop formed by the river Doubs. In terms of townscapes, Besançon is one of the hidden jewels of France. The city centre is largely undamaged by the insensitive development that razed the historic quarters of many French cities in the 19th and 20th centuries; it is composed mainly of old stone-built houses, with a fine selection of 18th century urban residences. The town boasts the oldest, and one of the finest, public art galleries in France, with an impressive collection of old masters and 19th century French art, including works by Cranach, Titian, Bellini, Rembrandt, Rubens, Zurbaran, Goya,  Fragonard, Courbet, Bonnard, Renoir, Matisse and many more. It has been nicknamed the "petit Louvre", on account of the richness of its collections.
         The capital of Franche-Comté is Besançon, a historic city nestling beneath its ancient citadel in a loop formed by the river Doubs. In terms of townscapes, Besançon is one of the hidden jewels of France. The city centre is largely undamaged by the insensitive development that razed the historic quarters of many French cities in the 19th and 20th centuries; it is composed mainly of old stone-built houses, with a fine selection of 18th century urban residences. The town boasts the oldest, and one of the finest, public art galleries in France, with an impressive collection of old masters and 19th century French art, including works by Cranach, Titian, Bellini, Rembrandt, Rubens, Fragonard, Courbet, Matisse. It has been nicknamed the "petit Louvre", on account of the richness of its collections.Besides its Musée des Beaux Arts, the city has two other major museums, the Museum of time, housed in the 16th century Granvelle Palace, a jewel of the French renaissance, and the museum of the Resistance and the Deportation, one of a number of museums and sites in the Citadel, a stronghold fortified by the great military architect Vauban in the 17th century, and classed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008. There is also a fine cathedral, the birthplace of Victor Hugo, and river cruises.
     The Franche-Comté region likes to promote itself as a haven for "green tourism" or nature tourism; in hot summers, when much of France turns brown and dry in the heat, Franche Comté, watered by summer storms, almost always remains green and inviting. In the Haut Doubs and Haut Jura area, running along the Swiss border, the meadows remain green and full of flowers; this is a great area for camping hiking and mountain biking, or even for sailing on the lakes. And in winter time, there is plenty of opportunity for nordic skiing and even downhill skiing, as Franche Comté has two fully equipped resorts.
     This is an area famous for its agricultural products, notably the famous "Comté" cheese, very similar to Swiss Gruyère, and smoked sausages. It is also famous as France's watchmaking area - watchmaking being an industry that is still active either side of the Swiss border. Franche Comté is also the home of France's optical glasses and spectacle industry, and the town of St Claude in the Jura is famous for its pipes. In the north of the region, the area around the towns of Montbéliard and Belfort is the heartland of the region's most famous company, Peugeot, which has a major production unit at Sochaux.

Regional specialities: Like many mountain regions, Franche-Comté boasts plenty of delicious regional specialities; among the most famous are its cheeses: of these, the most famous is Comté (pronounced contay) cheese, similar to the Swiss Gruyère cheese but with its own distinctive taste. This is one of the best cheeses in France, and one of the most traditional. Other cheeses: Mont d'Or - also called Vacherin - Morbier, Bleu de Gex (see About-France.com Cheeses page). Other gourmet delights: Morteau sausage, a smoked mountain sausage that can be boiled or grilled; Montbéliard sausage - similar but smaller; mountain ham. Wines: Arbois and Côtes du Jura are the great regional AOC wines. Arbois white is especially distinctive, when made from Savagnin grapes. The Jura also produces a very special aperitif wine, called Vin Jaune; the most famous vin jaune comes from Chateau Chalon, a village that is one of the most attractive in eastern France..

Access: The regional capital of Franche-Comté, Besançon, is accessible by direct TGV train from Paris (2h 30) or from Strasbourg, Lyon or Zurich. The region is crossed by motorway routes to southern France and Switzerland. The region has no airport, but three airports just outside Franche Comté are served by Easyjet from the UK, and flights from many other cities in Europe; Basel-Mulhouse Euroairport in the north, Geneva Cointrin in the south, and Lyon St. Exupéry in the south west.



Votre bannière ici?
Contact: info "at" about-france.com


Main tourist attractions in Franche Comté



Le centre historique de Besançon
Besançon from the air -  Photo JP Tupin - Ville de Besançon .
Below: Le Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp


Ronchamp - Le Corbusier's chapel

Doubs valley, near Besançon
   Valley of the river Doubs, near Besançon
Multi-site:
  • River cruising (boat hire) on the Saône, at Gray (70) and/or the Doubs at Dôle (39)
  • Natural environment of the Haut Doubs (25) and Haut Jura (39); hills, forests, lakes. Haut Jura Regional Park around the ski resourt of Les Rousses.
Doubs department (25) :
  • Besançon. Site, historic centre, Vauban's citadel (UNESCO world heritage site), Roman triumphal arch, Musée des Beaux Arts, Palais Granvelle, Musée du Temps, Musée de la Résistance, St. Jean's cathedral, riverboats. 
  • Ecomusée de Franche Comté  - Open air museum of historic houses, Nancray, near Besançon.
  • Ornans : site in the Loue valley, birthplace of Gustave Courbet, Courbet museum.
  • Loue valley from Ornans to Source de la Loue - deep gorge, with impressive crags.
  • Peugeot motor museum, Montbéliard : over 200 historic cars.
  • Arc et Senans: Royal Saltworks,  visionary 18th century development by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux; a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Saut du Doubs: near Villers le Lac, on the Swiss border. Impressive waterfall of the river Doubs, accessible by boat trip from Villers.
  • Source de la Loue  - where the river Loue emerges at the foot of a steep gorge.
  • Natural environment of the Haut Doubs
  • Metabief / Mont d'Or:   Small ski resort with summer activities; Le Conifer steam railway. Lac de St Point; one of the larger lakes in France.
  • Chateau de Joux  Impressive fortress commanding a narrow valley near the Swiss border.
Jura department (39):
  • Dôle - Small town on the Doubs - birthplace of Pasteur
  • Arbois -  Attractive small town in the heart of the Jura vineyard. Maison Pasteur, Pasteur's family home
  • Château Chalon:  very pretty village perched on a cliff overlooking the famous vineyards.
  • Lons le Saunier : Attractive small town. The Laughing Cow cheese museum
  • Lac de Chalain  : popular lake in the Jura hills. Boating, swimming.
  • Les Rousses - Lamoura : Haut Jura regional park, popular skiing area in winter, hiking and rambling area in summer.

Haute Saone (70) and Territoire de Belfort (90):
  • Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut, masterpiece of swiss architect Le Corbusier. Ronchamp (70), near Lure.
  • Luxeuil - Attractive old town near the Vosges mountains
  • Ballon d'Alsace (90) ; the southern peak of the Vosges mountains - on the border of Franche-Comté, Alsace and Lorraine

 Site index: About-France.com - accueil en français
France in general Travel Living and leisure Accommodation etc.
About-France.com Driving in France Living in France Hotels in France
Map of French regions Ferries to France Tourist attractions in France Cottages & gites in France
France facts and figures Maps of France Guide to French wines Travel directory
Full site directory Staying in Paris Guide to French cheese Skiing in the Alps

More information :
For further information, click on one of these  links: / pour plus d'informations, cliquez....
Official Franche Comté tourism site Gites in Franche-Comté
B&B in Franche-Comté

Text Copyright © About-France.com   2008 - 2014