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Franche-Comté is a region predominantly of glorious countryside with miles and miles of tranquil pasture, lakes and woodland. The Jura Mountains stretching along the border with Switzerland and  with the Vosges mountains to the north.

The region originally formed part of Burgundy but 8 centuries ago, the Count of the region refused homage to the German King and successfully broke away renaming the region Franc-Comté meaning “free Count” and the name of the region was born, Franche-Comté meaning “free country”.

It is a region that receives fewer visitors than neighbouring districts and yet it has much to offer holidaymakers who want a laid-back, cultural experience where the air is clear, the food is good and the villages are pretty.

There is plenty of outdoor activity to be found in the area – cycle routes, hiking routes, nature trails and water sports a-plenty for the summer months. The Jura area offers some fantastic opportunities for mountain bikers including route GTJ-VTT which at 300 kms long and incorporating high climbs is not for the faint hearted. For a slightly less arduous challenge the area of Doubs offers a 65km cycle route which doesn’t require so much climbing and takes in some beautiful scenery including waterfalls and grottoes.

In the winter the mountains are guaranteed snow making it a trendy destination for ski-ing – it is the most popular place in France for cross-country ski-ing (ski du fond).

The capital of Franche-Comté is Besancon, a very pretty town, surrounded by hills at the edge of the Jura Mountains. The architecture of blue-grey stone buildings is elegant and attractive and the town is the birthplace of Victor Hugo.

Departments are Doubs [25], Jura [39], Haute-Saone [70] and Territoire de Belfort [90].

Things to do in Franche-Comté

Enjoy the view from the platform on the paw of the famous Lion of Belfort, an 11 metre high statue carved from redstone into the rock-face

Have a meal in the lively town of Besancon and marvel at the Roman remains such as the Porte Noire (2AD) which is partially embedded in local houses.

Camp in the glorious fresh air in the Valley of the Loue and indulge in canoeing or Kayaking on the river Loue.

Take a boat trip on the River Doubs and enjoy the waterfalls at Villers-Le-Lac .

Marvel at the grottoes and caves of the region which is home to many of the oldest and most stunning caves in France including (to name just a few) the Moidons caves with amazing stalactites, the cave at Poudrey with an enchanting sound and light show  in the largest cave in France 70m underground, and Baume-Les-Messieurs with its underground waterfall.

For more information on the region the official Franche-Comté website offers plenty of details.

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