The Franche-Comté is a quiet and lesser known region of France, sandwiched between Burgundy and Switzerland. The gentle Jura mountains are here. The celebrated French cheese called Comté also comes from this region. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a slightly more assertive (and more delicious) version of gruyére.
1 The countryside. Wooded and softly rolling, with happy cows and fine views. And not overrun with the tourist hoards, even in the height of summer.
2 The villages and towns. There is a route touristique with lovely villages strung like jewels along the winding, scenic drive. They're Interspersed with larger towns like Poligny and Arbois, with flower-filled squares and sophisticated food shops.
3 The natural beauty. Les cascades, (waterfalls), rivers, limestone cliffs, caves, it’s all there and it's all gorgeous.
4 The food. We checked out a couple of the many fabulous restaurants--more on this next week. Photo right: a table with a view at Baume-les-Messieurs.
5 The cheese. The most beautiful cheese shops I’ve ever seen, and of course, that wonderful Comté (see last photo).
6 The wine. Check out Eric Pfanner’s article on Jura wines in the New York times: “Its wines, long overlooked, are starting to appear on the trendiest tables of Paris, Tokyo, London and New York.” Photo, left: wine caves for tastings are easy to find.
7 Les fleurs. They’re spilling over everywhere in the towns and villages, plus wildflowers all around.
8 The price. Not being the epicenter of tourism, the prices are reasonable.
9 The location. You can easily combine a trip here with an excursion to nearby Annecy, Geneva, or Beaune; or follow the fabulous Alsace wine route (another gorgeous part of France).
10 The climate--at least in summer! Cooler than in the south, just perfect.
If you go: find lots of good tourist information at the official website or at the excellent About-France site. For tour books, I like The Alps and Franche-Comté Rough Guides Snapshot France (includes Grenoble, Chambéry, Trois Vallées, Annecy, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, Lake Geneva and Besançon) because it covers the whole area.
And while we're talking travel, back to Burgundy with a great article on Dijon that Ron found, called Dijon Loses its Provincial Tag. Who knew it was so hip and happening? Must be time to go back!
If you liked Rhett Thurman's beautiful paintings of France on my post last month, you might want to check out my interview with her today at The Daily Basics about her upcoming show, Americans Artists in Paris.
Next week: In the Footsteps of the Very Hungry Frenchman!