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Franche-Comté is a little known region of eastern France bordering with Switzerland with whom it shares much of its architecture, culture and cuisine. Franche Comté is acclaimed for its beautiful unspoiled scenery of rolling fields, dense forests and mountains where time has stood still. The Jura mountains are a mecca for nature lovers and winter sports fans.
Franche-Comté, is a relatively unknown corner of France, tucked away in the north east between Alsace and Lyon and was for centuries a buffer state between Burgundy and Switzerland. The Jura mountain range stretches from the plains of the river Saône and extends through the Swiss border almost as far as Basel.
The region has a wild and varied beauty, from great forests, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, to hidden valleys and gorges, mountain villages and spa towns. In winter there is good cross-country and downhill skiing. It has wine growing areas like the Arbois, the vineyards on the mountain slopes producing distinctive sherry like wines and a thriving dairy farming industry, which produces fine cheeses.
One of several places to visit worth considering, is the old university town of Besançon. Birthplace of the writer Victor Hugo and the Lumière brothers, it lies in the great valley of the Doubs almost enclosed by hills and dominated by the citadel, which is regarded as Vauban's masterpiece. Amongst other things, it has a fine arts museum and museums of clock making, local folk arts, and the French Resistance movement.
Further south is the charming country town of Ornans on the river Loue with its ancient houses overhanging the river. This too is the birthplace of many historically famous people, including the painter Gustave Courbet, whose home is now a museum.
Lods, Pontarlier and the elegant town of Dole where Louis Pasteur was born, are other places worth seeing.
Typical country fare with generous portions.
Hearty nourishing soups made with potato and cabbage with chunks of pork or sausage thrown in, or a delicate creamy soup made with frog legs and white wine. There are many different kinds of charcuterie, Jésu is a smoked pork liver sausage and a different version is smoked over juniper twigs. Main dishes include veal in breadcrumbs and baked with ham and cheese, fechun, cabbage stuffed with bacon and vegetables and ramequin is a fondue usually made with Gruyère cheese melted in red wine, mustard and garlic.
Delicious too are croustades, cheese pastries and frérottes, potatoes and onions cooked in lard, and langues fourrées, stuffed tongues and finally, poulet au Vin Jaune, chicken cooked in Jura wine, is a speciality.
There is a fine choice of cheeses here, made from both goat's and cow's milk. Bleu de Gex, blue veined and strong tasting, Cancoillotte, a fruity cheese spread, often eaten on warm toast, and Comté, a hard cheese, which is mild when young, growing strong and tangy when aged, amongst many others.
Desserts include, laitiat, a drink made from wild fruits and the whey of milk and sèche a sweet tart. Malakoff is a delicious almond pastry and raviole is a pastry made with goat's milk. In the south you may be offered pogne, a brioche cake filled with pumpkin, or with ham as a savoury. Mont Blanc, something of an experience, is meringue covered in chestnut purée and whipped cream.
Usually dry hot summers going into a traditionally sunny warm autumn. Cold winters and heavy snowfalls with good snow cover particularly in the mountains. Often long periods of cold but sunny stretches, followed by occasional heavy rain and showers in spring.