Franche Comté description
This little known région borders Switzerland and shares much of its architecture, cuisine, and culture with its neighbour. Between the Vosges range of mountains to the north and the Jura (Gaulish word meaning 'forest') range to the south, the landscape consists of rolling cultivated fields, dense pine forest and remparts like mountains. Not as majestic as the Alps, the Jura mountains are more accessible and are France's first cross-country skiing area. It is also a superb place to hike and there are some fine nature trails on the more gentle slopes. The Doubs and Loue valleys, with their timbered houses perched on stilts in the river, and the high valley of Ain, are popular visitor areas. The Région des Lacs is a land of gorges and waterfalls dotted with tiny villages, each with a domed belfry decorated with mosaic of tiles or slates or beaten from metal. The lakes are perfect for swimming. The summits of Haute Jura have wonderful views across Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and towards the Alps.
This area is largely ignored by foreign home-buyers, which is strange as its landscape makes it perfect for both a winter and summer retreat. It has good connections with the centre and south of France, Switzerland and Germany. Its proximity to Switzerland means that it's possible to work in Switzerland whilst living in France.
Forty percent of the région's GDP is dependent on manufacturing activities, and most of its production is exported. Construction of automobiles and their parts is one of the most buoyant industries here. Forestry exploitation is steadily growing and 38% of the agriculture is dairy and 17% cattle farming. The région has a large and lucrative cheese-making industry with 40 million tons of cheese produced here each year, much of which is made by fruitières (traditional cheese dairies of Franche-Comté).
- Population: 1,117,059
- Pop.density (people per km2): 69