Quick Guide to Franche Comte

Departments in Franche Comte:

Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saone, Territoire de Belfort

Popular Towns in Franche Comte:

Besancon, Belfort

Time to get out in the elements. The seasons here are more marked than elsewhere, with hot summers and cold winters. In the summer, the omnipresent forests in Franche-Comté provide the perfect chance to get lost in their vast, secret sunlit depths with a huge variety of hiking, cycling and motorbiking opportunities; but there is more than just trees here. If green seems to dominate the summertime landscape, blue is a close second with 5350km of navigable waters, plus white-water rapids, cascades and waterfalls. But as the warm breeze eases off and the temperature plummets, hikers are replaced by skiers in this snow-addicts' paradise.

Throughout the year, the Jurassic mountains, spanning from verdant Doubs in the East to sunlit Haute-Saône in the west, and the Jurassic crevices and ancient waterways traversing them from plateaus of Territoire de Belfort in the north to the waterfalls of Jura in the south beckon.

Top things to see...

  • Tonnes of water crashing down around you at as water gushes out of a crevice at the Herrison waterfalls.
  • The 30,000 individual pieces which make up the precise and complex mechanism of the 19th atop the Besancon cathedral.
  • A 22m long, 11m high lion face by the creator of the Statue of Liberty carved into red sandstone rock keeping guard over Belfort.
  • The early morning mist over the vast Plateau of the Thousand Ponds, a veritable mosaic of land and water which was made 12,000 years ago as the last glaciers of the Vosges retreated.
  • Switzerland within sight but not touch at the top of Mont d'Or (1463m) which drops off into a cliff at the Swiss border.

Top things to do...

  • Risk life and limb along the ominously named « Les Echelles de la mort » cycling route along some death-defying ridges.
  • Test your endurance to the max by skiing The Great Jura Trail - a 250km trans-Jura adventure, or just choose your favourite bit and enjoy some powder.
  • Enjoy the sense of freedom and independence of motorbiking through the forested wilderness of the Jurassic.
  • Get a whole new perspective on diving, climbing and swimming by doing them subterranean-style in some of the 4,500 caves or chasms in the region.
  • Make the most of the excellent hiking oppurtunites through the spectacular countryside -such as the Champlitte in Haute-Saône, where precious orchids flower in crisp pastures.

Famous for...

Skiing, cheese, lakes, Belfort lion, Jura mountains.

Did you know...?

Forest makes up 43% of the surface area of the region, which makes Franche-Comté the most forested region in France.

Getting there

By road... Besançon is about 414 km, 3½ hours, from Paris.

By air... The closest airports to Franche-Comté are the Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Airport (one hour from Belfort by car), and Lyon - St.-Exupéry Airport (about 220 km from Besançon). There are some direct flights available from London with a variety of airlines. Depending on where you are staying in the region, it may be quicker and easier to fly to Switzerland and drive or get a train across the border.

By public transport... From Paris, the high-speed TGV train to Besançon takes about 2½ -3 hours, taking total time from London including the Eurostar to about 6 hours.