Situated in the Eastern part of France, this region comprises four departments: the Doubs, Jura, Haut-Saône and Territoire de Belfort. Besançon, the capital, has 123,000 inhabitants and is France’s first garden city. With its imposing fortress built by Vauban, it is also the site of regular classical music and jazz festivals. Overall, the region accounts for 2% of the total French population whereas the surface area is only 3% of the surface area of France. It is an unspoilt region of forests and lakes, mountains and fresh air. There is a wealth of wonderful produce to enjoy from local cheeses including Comté, Emmental and Mont d’or to name but a few and the delicatessen is extensive, including the renowned Luxeuil ham, Brési (dried smoked beef from this land of cattle), Morteau and Montbéliard sausage. There are also a plethora of delightful wines including the justifiably well-known and appreciated wines of the Jura.
As one might expect, leisure activities include a variety of outdoor pursuits including cross country and downhill skiing, snowshoe trekking, dog sleigh riding and, with a total of 80 lakes, there is plenty for ramblers, fishermen and water skiers to enjoy. Amongst these, Lake Saint Point which abounds with fish and extends to 400 hectares, is probably the best known. The dramatic Jura mountains and the Vosges Mountains with the extraordinary still waters of the ‘Plateau des Milles Etangs’ etched out by glaciers are just two of the impressive natural wonders of this region. The town of Gray has a remarkable town hall which dates from the 16th century and Luxeuil-les-Bains is a spa for water-cures. Belfort is famous for its huge stone lion, its Vauban citadel and festivals - all having much to admire and visit.
The Saône Valley is criss-crossed by waters on which myriad barges glide to and fro past museums, abbeys, châteaux, churches and other attractions. The houses in the town of Pesmes, dating from the 12th century to the Renaissance, are delicately balanced on a rocky spur above the River Ognon. In the Valley of the Loue at Ornans, the works of the artist Courbet are commemorated in a museum in his honour. The valley is a haven for fly fishers and the pools of the Doubs and the Rivers Loue, Lison and Lakes of Remoray and Saint- Pont offer an ideal location for water sports enthusiasts and ramblers as well as rock climbers in the nearby Doubs and Dessoubre valleys. In adddition to the excellent wines of the Jura, the region is also famous for brandy and liqueurs including kirsch made in Fougerolles and Mouthier and at Pontarlier, a local aperitif of anis. Copyright Sarah Francis.