An introduction to the region of Franche Comte

The region of Franche-Comte is very much a neglected part of France, from a tourist perspective; it has some wonderful attractions and a diverse landscape, both physically and culturally. Franche-Comte lies firmly in the east of France and is sandwiched between Burgundy to the west, and Switzerland to the east. Lorraine and Alsace lie to the north of this region of hills, mountains and broad river valleys. There is a fantastic variety of locations and landscapes for your gites in Franche-Comte, one to suit all holiday plans.

To the north lies the Haute Saone, a landscape that rises from the Saone river to the foothills of the Vosges mountains. Strung below that are the valleys and ridges of the Saone and Doubs rivers. Then, running along the south-east, the hills rise rapidly to the mountains of the Jura, as they spill over into Switzerland. The whole area is known for its greenness, even at the height of summer, as summer storms keep the area freshly watered, whilst the rest of France is parched brown.

Things to do and places to see

The capital city of Franche-Comte is Besançon, which lies in the looping Doubs river. This ancient town is perfectly preserved, with its fine stone buildings remaining un-blighted by modern developments, and so it is considered something of a gem. Its art gallery, the Musée des Beaux Arts, is well regarded, having gathered a great selection of paintings over two centuries - earning it the nickname of the 'petit Louvre'. So this is definitely worth a visit by the art-lovers.

Franche-Comte is also famous for its cheeses, with the best known probably being the Morbier, Mont d'Or, and of course, Comte cheese itself. These are made from the milk of cattle free to graze on the verdant and rich mountain pastures.

The Jura are well-known by the French for their excellent cross-country skiing resorts, such are found in the villages of Lajoux, Les Moussieres, Septmoncel, and La Pesse; these have over 240km of great cross-country trails. In the summer, the same region is astonishingly vibrant and colourful, as the mountain meadows come into bloom. This makes it a summer-time favourite destination for hikers. So whatever the season, the mountain village gites in Franche-Comte have plenty to offer.

Making the most of your holiday in Franche Comte

One of the more unique customs of the Franche-Comte region is the parading of the Biou around the village of Arvbois. Known as the Fête de Biou, it involves the construction of an elaborate bouquet of red and white grapes, which weighs 100kg, and looks quite spectacular. This is then paraded through the town, before being taken to the Saint Juste church, to hang high in the eves.

Travel to Franche Comte France

You can easily get to the regional capital of Besançon by train - the fast and direct TGV line runs from Paris in less than three hours. Equally, the region is quite accessible by motorway, with either the A5 or A6 from Paris getting you most of the way to Franche-Comte.

Air travel is not such a cinch, as the nearest airports are Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Airport, over an hour’s drive from the northern town of Belfort, or Lyon, which is nearly two hours to the south of Besançon. Transport locally, once you are settled into whichever of the gites in Franche-Comte suited you best, is patchy. The bigger towns are well served by public transport, but if you plan to tour around the Vosges or Jura mountains, a car rental would make more sense.

Holiday Gites Franche Comte, Self Catering Accommodation in Franche Comte France
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