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The Franche-Comté region of France

Franche-Comté lies on the Swiss-French border, next to Alsace, Champagne Ardenne, Burgundy and Rhône-Alpes. The main attraction of the area is the great outdoors. The easiest way to reach Franche-Comte is by air to Lyon or Eurostar to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

More than half of Franche Comté is covered with forests, rivers and waterfalls. There is every type of water world imaginable, from lakes and streams to grottoes and dramatic waterfalls. With nearly four thousand miles of navigable rivers, and over eighty lakes and hundreds of ponds the area is ideal for those who love to swim, kayak, canoe or raft. The forests around the lakes and rivers have plenty of paths and roads for hiking and biking. There are innumerable places to wander peacefully.

France-Comté is divided into two, with rolling farmland in the Saône valley and Alpine scenery to the east. This is perfect countryside for rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, walking and bird watching. The woodland of Franche-Comté stretches between Vosges and Jura. The underground Franche-Comté holds over 9000 underground passages and caves.

There are numerous outdoor places of interest, including the Hérisson Waterfall, the blind valley of Baume-les-Messieurs, Saut de la Truite waterfall, Corniche de Goumois cliff ledge, Lison spring, La Motte viewpoint, the Cusancin valley, Les Croix pass and the gorges of the Langouette. There are eighty lakes in the area, offering enough peace to calm and pressures caused by the hassles of city life.

An hour’s drive from Dijon, and you reach the area’s capital city of Besançon on the Doubs river. Besançon has its own charm. Its rises dramatically above the river and there’s plenty going on in the evenings. An elegant seventeenth century city, Besançon was France’s capital of watch and clock making for centuries.

Fort Saint-Antoine is a half hour’s drive away. Its underground complex was originally built to house underground bombs in the First World War. It’s now home to the gruyere-like cheese called Comté. You can try hand made Comté cheese, with Jura wines and wines from Château-Chalon and Arbois. Much of the food in the region relies heavily on dairy products. The gastronomic centre of Franche-Comté is Arbois, which was also home to the famous scientist, Louis Pasteur. As a cattle breeding region, Franche-Comté has a wide variety of delicatessen products including brési, a dried smoked beef, Morteau sausage, Luxeuil ham, Montbéliard sausage and Ballon des Vosges smoked shoulder. Franche-Comté also produces brandies and liqueurs. There’s a traditional local aperitif, anis from Pontarlier.

Lovers of culture and history will have more than enough to entertain them in the region, with the stunning châteaux in Arlay, Gy and Fabulys.