Old Besancon
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FRANCHE-COMT� tourism information 

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The Franche Comt� 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.
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A short guide to Franche-Comt�

Map of Franche-Comte Franche-Comt� 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-Sa�ne 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 Sa�ne 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 Montb�liard is the home of the Peugeot car group.
Besancon citadelle
View across the rooftops of old Besan�on, to the Cathedral and Vauban's citadel (UNESCO world heritage site)
      The capital of Franche-Comt� is Besan�on, a historic city nestling beneath its ancient citadel in a loop formed by the river Doubs. In terms of townscapes, Besan�on 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-Comt� is Besan�on, a historic city nestling beneath its ancient citadel in a loop formed by the river Doubs. In terms of townscapes, Besan�on 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 Mus�e 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-Comt� 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 Comt�, 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 Comt� has two fully equipped resorts.
     This is an area famous for its agricultural products, notably the famous "Comt�" cheese, very similar to Swiss Gruy�re, 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 Comt� 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 Montb�liard 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-Comt� boasts plenty of delicious regional specialities; among the most famous are its cheeses: of these, the most famous is Comt� (pronounced contay) cheese, similar to the Swiss Gruy�re 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; Montb�liard sausage - similar but smaller; mountain ham. Wines: Arbois and Ctes 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-Comt�, Besan�on, 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 Comt� 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. Exup�ry in the south west.

 





Main tourist attractions in Franche Comt�



Le centre historique de Besan�on
Besan�on from the air -  Photo JP Tupin - Ville de Besan�on .


Ronchamp - Le Corbusier's chapelLe Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp

Doubs valley, near Besan�on
   Valley of the river Doubs, near Besan�on

Multi-site:
  • River cruising (boat hire) on the Sa�ne, at Gray (70) and/or the Doubs at D�le (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) :
  • Besan�on. Site, historic centre, Vauban's citadel (UNESCO world heritage site), Roman triumphal arch, Mus�e des Beaux Arts, Palais Granvelle, Mus�e du Temps, Mus�e de la R�sistance, St. Jean's cathedral, riverboats. 
  • Ecomus�e de Franche Comt�  - Open air museum of historic houses, Nancray, near Besan�on.
  • 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, Montb�liard : 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):
  • D�le - 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
  • Ch�teau 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-Comt�, Alsace and Lorraine.



For further information, click on one of these  links: / pour plus d'informations, cliquez....
Official Franche Comt� tourism site Gites in Franche Comt�
B&B in Franche Comt�
Photo top:
Historic Besan�on - capital of Franche-Comt�
Photo: � About-France.com


Franche Comt� - made famous to UK TV-viewers as the birthplace of celebrity chef Raymond Blanc - who hails from the village of Sa�ne, just outside Besan�on -  consists of four departments, Doubs, Jura, Haute-Sa�ne and Territoire de Belfort

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

Ornans, in the Loue Valley
Ornans in the Loue valley, near Besan�on

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Cirque de la Consolation
A deep Jura valley
 
Peugeot museum Montb�liard
In the Peugeot motor museum, Montb�liard

Winter scene Haut Doubs
Winter sports in Franche-Comt� - Nordic skiing in the Haut Doubs

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