The area known as Franche-Comte is in the east of France, was once part of the ancient kingdom of Burgundy. The region is well known for winter sports in the Jura Mountains and is also home to many lakes, gorges and waterfalls. Those who enjoy outdoor activities and extreme sports will find plenty to keep them entertained in Franche-Comte, while the cities of Besancon and Montbeliard are full of historical buildings and churches.
The Jura Mountains contain over 3,000km of ski slopes. While not as high or spectacular as the neighbouring Alps, there are still plenty of winter resorts, also offering Nordic skiing and plenty of entertainment. As well as the winter sports, the town of Montebeliard also has an extensive lights display and an annual Christmas market. Earlier in the year, usually in autumn, the towns of the region hold a Celtic music festival, with artists from all over the world performing alongside an arts festival, which attracted 4000 visitors to the region in 2010.
There are many ways to explore the green and rolling countryside of France-Comte in the summer. Try one of the many hiking trails through the forests or hire a bike to travel the roads or mountain tracks. If you prefer life a little slower and quieter, you can book a horse drawn carriage trip through the Jura vineyards. The Chalain Lake is particularly popular with sailors, and you can hire every kind of watercraft from yachts down to pedal boats. Canoeists can enjoy rivers of various levels of difficulty in the region, from those with serious rapids to others, which provide a gentle journey downstream. There are even competitions held on the rapids at Goumois on the River Doubs.
The old town of Besancon dates from the 16th century and is typical of the era, with narrow winding cobbled streets and traditional timber-fronted buildings. The town is famous as one of the greenest in France, with many parks, gardens and fountains. There is also a thriving glass industry in the region, with many artisans opening up their workshops to tourists. The castle which dominates the town of Montbeliard is just one of the impressive historical buildings in this part of Franche-Comte, alongside the townhouses, traditionally painted in colours from lavender to pink. If you have children travelling with you, they will love the town’s interactive science museum, while boys young and old can enjoy the Peugeot Museum nearby.