Region of France. Burgundy-Franche-Comté.

Rustic France. Travel through the Franche-Comté region – itinerary, review, photos

France in the countryside

Self-travel in rustic France – review and our impressions, attractions, what to do, what to see, itinerary and useful trivia like where to live, what to eat and how much it all costs.

Dedicated to all witnesses of overcrowded tourist spots, as well as moaning from the dominance of the Chinese and other tourist masses. I will show you not just places where there are few tourists, but a region where there are no tourists at all except French and Swiss vacationers. However, I do not guarantee that in 3-5 years, these places will not become a tourist mecca.

The fact that the region of Franche-Comté is free from the infernal crowd of tourists, even in the peak season, is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the search engine makes 115 hits for a combination of the words “rural France” and 9200 hits for the phrase “Paris attractions”.

France in the countryside

And all because in the places we traveled this June, there is no Eiffel Tower , no bohemian quarter of the Marais (by the way, my favorite in Paris), no Notre Dame.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

As not listen / read the experienced travelers – all walking around the “non-touristy places”, giving them all the places known to all and the most that neither is popular. It happens, everyone wants to be a discoverer. Alas, everything has long been open, but not everything is known to the masses of tourists-travelers. I will try to uncover the secrets of rural France in the Franche-Comté – Jura region.

What is the Franche-Comté – Jura – Bourgogne.

It is a combined region. In the last century, Franche Contet was merged with Bourgogne, which was known as Burgundy and I personally associate it with great wine and cheese.

The area is mountainous, there are even ski slopes, the altitude is about 500-1000 meters above sea level. That is the mountains in the full sense of the word. But the altitude difference, rivers and lakes formed a lot of waterfalls and picturesque green valleys, which attract a few tourists.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

The main city of the region is Besançon, for convenience I will give all the distances, starting from it. But I recommend to live in one of the non-tourist villages, closer to the border with Switzerland. It’s cheaper, more romantic and comfortable, and if you want you can go to Lake Geneva or the Swiss Alps for two or three days.

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Why go to rural France

The first understanding of why you came here, comes on the first day after visiting the local grocery store, which looks like an organic store, and only local specialties.

Store in the countryside

Prices, of course, are one and a half times lower than in Paris or in the same popular Tuscany, here is cheaper than in Kiev supermarkets, you can only dream of such quality products for every day.

What can you buy? Local ham and sausage, pates, sweets, bread, local craft beer and excellent Burgundy wine. Of course 10-15 kinds of cheese. Cheese only that is produced in the region of Franche-Comté – Jura – Burgogne. That is the full name of the area in the east of France near the Swiss border, where we spent a wonderful week.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

Franche-Comté is the very same rural France not marked by the UNESCO and practically not visited by our people. Why? Because they don’t know. Tourism, of course, is present here, but more as a detail in the interior for the knowledgeable local French than for the package-Chinese “horde. Oh, I hope not to jinx it.

What’s worth seeing in the Franche-Comté region

I’ll tell only the places we’ve been, but given that the guide was a local resident and our good friend, I think we saw all the most important. All these places can easily be combined into one itinerary, and you can see everything even in three days and a couple of days just to indulge in the pleasure of rustic rest. The itinerary below – let’s go!

Arsure- Arsurette.

The village where we started, and where we spent several days making radial excursions in the surroundings.

Arsure-Arsurette has a few guest houses for rent, not onBooking – you can find them on specialized French sites. The price of a house – 300 euros a week for a family or a company of 3-5 people.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

There are Fromagerie (cheese factory) and the store – a kind of Farm Shop only with a quality set of delicacies, which are considered the usual farm products. The mayor of the town sometimes stands behind the counter, combining his duties as mayor and salesman. There is a small school, a church, and endless fields and cows.

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France in the countryside - Franche Comté

The cow is the protagonist of the region. The cow is the local motley grass, of which there are up to 300 species. It is the herbage which determines the quality of milk from which the local dairies (fromageries) make cheese. The quality of milk is checked by special laboratories, the slightest deviation leads to fines and a ban on delivery of milk. Therefore, the quality is cherished here. And that is why Comte cheese is unique. This cheese does not reach Kiev, and in Paris it costs twice as much as locally.

The peculiarity of the landscapes of this region – no corn, rape and grain fields. Only grass and wildflowers, it is at first strongly and pleasantly strikes the eye, then you get used to it as to all good.

The area is mountainous, the altitude of 500-800 meters at sea level, it is about as in our Carpathians. Accordingly the climate is unstable, in summer it was hot (+30 in the shade) and cool – +18-24. But the heat rather an exception this year, usually the air temperature is comfortable for walking and rest.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

Arsure-Arsurette – was chosen because our friends live here, it’s convenient to explore Franche-Comté-Jurassic region.

Baume-les-Messieurs village.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

A true medieval abbey and one of the most beautiful villages in France, Baume-les-Messieurs. It is simply the jewel of the region – a beautiful village, the historic Abbaye de Baume and a beautiful cascading waterfall with a grotto and cave on top. It’s all in one place. And it is undoubtedly the most touristy place in the region. Nevertheless, there were a few cars in the parking lot, no tourist buses and no Chinese.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

The village is one of the top most beautiful villages in France , and the waterfall during the heavy rains is very steep and unusual – the jets seem to hug a huge rock. It is a beautiful sight.

Other beautiful villages in the region

Besides Baume-les-Messieurs you must visit the following two places.

Pesmes, 40 km from Besançon, in the Haute-Saône department, on the river Oignon. It is worth seeing the ruins of an ancient castle, a medieval church and the houses of the townspeople from the 17th century.

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Chateau-Chalon is a village famous both for its historical past and for its excellent wines. We tasted Château-Chalon, Côtes du Jura, Crémant and Macvin. Macvin is the famous “yellow wine”, a bit like a madera on the palate, with a golden color. The village is only 70 km from Besançon and 12 km from Baume-les-Messieurs.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

I recommend combining Chateau-Chalon and Baume-les-Messieurs in the same trip and driving to Pesmes on a separate day.

Cascades du Herrison

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

There are more than a dozen waterfalls in the Franche-Comté-Jurassic region that are worth visiting. The network of cascading waterfalls on the river Herrison is considered a must-see. It is not only a spectacle, but also a beautiful hiking trail from the lower waterfall to the upper one.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

The hike begins at the Maison des Cascades, which is the lower waterfall where the countdown begins. You follow the hiking trail to the upper waterfall Saut-Girard . The altitude difference is comfortable – only 250 meters, the length of the route is 7.4 km. In terms of time it is 3 hours, taking into account the stops for photos and admiring the places – plan all 5 hours.

At the start point and at the highest point there are parking lots, toilets, info center, cafe, cheese shop (fromagerie) and souvenir store.

France in the countryside

Despite the obvious beauty of the place, tourists here are minimal and only the French. As I wrote earlier, this region is almost unknown in the post-Soviet countries. Full immersion in the culture and the country and it is wonderful.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

You can drive up to the upper and lower points by car and walk a bit to the neighboring waterfalls. This is if time is limited or you don’t feel like walking.

Lake Vouglans and others

There are several lakes in the same region, each deserves at least a short visit to admire the beauty and take selfies in the background.

Lake Vouglans stands out as the largest lake in the area. The lake was formed by a dam, which began construction in 1963 and in 1968 opened to the public. During the construction of the dam several French villages were buried under water. Just so you know the value of this beauty.

The dam is now closed to visitors, but you can admire it from observation decks along the road that leads to the town of Lect.

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How to travel in Franche Comté – Jura

The Franche Comté – Bourgogne – Jura region is small and it is enough to choose one holiday village and from there to make radial trips around the area. And you can do it by car, on foot or by bicycle.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

The latter two methods are even more convenient, because the region is literally confined to bicycle tourists and pedestrians.

If to choose a bicycle or on foot, on a bicycle you will see more – distances in day – up to 70 km, quite in the power of an average bicycle tourist.

A lighter format – a car and some walking. Free parking everywhere – this is rural France, paid parking lots are only at some attractions (2-3 euros), auto hooligans are also not yet. Before the start of the vacation season from early July to mid-August, even the local tourists are a minimum.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

The cost of housing – about 300-500 euros a week. For this money you get a house with a kitchen, a veranda and the smell of freshly cut grass. Estimated that such housing is usually for a family of 4-6 people or a company. There are guest houses for rent by rooms, the price level is about the same.

In addition to hiking and biking you can ride horses, kayaks on the lakes. This is for the lovers, we have not tried.

You can get a map of hiking trails from one of the information centers near the waterfalls, for example. In addition, there are signposts to every significant natural landmark. There is no point in describing in detail.

France in the countryside - Franche Comté

In addition to travel in the region, it is possible to make radial trips to Switzerland, an hour and a half drive to Lake Geneva, and then less than an hour to the Swiss Alps. In general, the opportunities are wide if you manage your time properly and make the best itinerary.

Where better to live to see the most

Without preparation, remotely quite difficult to guess with places to stay, so I will give a few locations around which it is convenient to rest against the backdrop of rustic pastoralism.

First, two villages in the region – Arsure-Arsurette , Petit-Villard in which we stayed. There are houses there that I wrote about above.

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The small towns – Pontarlier , Nozeroy and surroundings are also good places to start and relax in the region.

The capital of the region, Besançon, although a long way from the main attractions, is well included in the itinerary and there is something to see in the city itself.

Here are some good examples of hotels to stay in while exploring the region along the route mentioned above.

L’Orée des Lacs (Appartement n°1) is a typical vacation cottage, good value for the price, and for my taste, couldn’t be better. Close to the lakes and waterfalls I wrote about above.

Cottage du Bugnon 3* – an excellent vacation home for a company or a large family for 4-6 people near the Swiss border

MV Vacances 3* – right on the Swiss border, typical French-Swiss view from the balcony, good reviews

Les Remparts – beautiful small hotel in the medieval town of Nozeroy. It’s perfect for exploring the surroundings on our route and it’s an hour and a half drive to Lake Geneva.

Gite de 6 à 8 personnes la faviere, a very nice guesthouse in a village not far from Nozeroy in the middle of an idyllic countryside. 300 euros/week, ideal for families, groups or even two, considering the price.

Café Hôtel de la Gare is a local touristy hotel in the market town of Champagnolles, also ideal for those who like small towns rather than the countryside.

How to buy a cheap ticket to Geneva

Geneva is the closest airport to the region of Jura-France-Comté-Bourgonne . All you need to know to buy a cheap airline ticket – aviasales website . I choose and buy airline tickets right here. Their calendar of cheap prices is handy – try it.

Useful links for travel planning

Aviasales – low cost flights around the world.

Hotels Combined (RoomGuru) – allows you to save up to 20% when searching for budget accommodation, hotels, and apartments because it searches all popular booking sites including Agoda, Booking.com, and others. It is relevant for Switzerland.

Booking.com is a familiar and convenient way to search and book accommodation around the world

Airbnb is the global leader in apartment and travel apartment search, sign up here and get a cash bonus on your first booking

Rentalcars, a worldwide car search and rental site with free cancellation options

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