Franche comté Region
Bed and breakfast (staying as paying guests) is completely different from any other form of accommodation. We put all our hospitality and care into making your stay pleasant and friendly, and we will encourage you to discover all the riches the region has in store for you.
>> Places to visit, monuments, villages, nature
>> Events, shows
>> Arts & Crafts, industry
Places, monuments, villages,
the natural environment
to visit in Franche-Comté
The Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans (5 km) >> website
The Royal Salt Works were built by the visionary architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux from 1774 and 1779, to process the salt mined in the neighbouring locality of Salins-les-Bains. The plans for this unfinished utopian model town included accommodation, workshops and offices. The manager's impressive dwelling, situated in the centre and flanked by two evaporation workshops, as well as most of the 11 other buildings laid out in a semi-circle around it, make Salines a real curiosity of French architectural history.
Arbois, the capital of Jura wine, is a small town full of charm and nobility. The Saint-Just steeple rises out of a sea of vines, a massive, straight and powerful feature. The stone of Arbois' houses is the colour of old yellow wine or even of wine made from dried grapes.
Salins les Bains (16 km)(5 km) >>
Salins les Bains was the leading industrial centre of Comté as early as the Middle Ages. Its salt works, which closed down in 1962, now make up one of the most beautiful and interesting open-air museums in Franche-Comté. Its subterranean waters, the mineral salts content of which is similar to that of seawater, but ten times saltier, are used in hydrotherapy for a variety of water cures.
Renowned for its quality of life, Besançon is ideally located at the heart of the Jura mountain range. Dominated by a citadel with its magnificent view of the valley, Franche-Comté's capital snuggles in a loop of the river Doubs. The 18C cathedral of Saint John houses an astronomical clock containing over 30 000 parts, and the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology boasts a remarkable collection.
>> Top of page
FRANCHE-COMTÉ ROUTE GUIDE
Ranging from 800 to 1 600 metres above sea level, the Haut-Jura is the most authentic of French mountainous regions with its villages snuggled up at the bottom of its valleys, its farms dotted around the countryside and its famous Montbéliard cows whose bells can be heard for miles. Its gently undulating hills are ideal for family hiking.
A multifaceted region at the heart of a regional nature park, Haut-Jura offers a rich and varied range of activities and places of interest for tourists.
Its wealth of landscapes, lakes, mountains and valleys are a permanent invitation for a host of leisure activities...
The lake district
Not far from the Petite Montagne and the Haut-Jura, the Lake District is a picturesque part of the Jura region loved by holidaymakers Jura for its lakes, panoramic viewpoints and famous sites such as the Hérisson falls. Conservation of nature (archaeology, flora, fauna...) and traditions (woodwork, toys, agriculture) has been a great success here.
The Lake District also offers a mosaic of open-air activities and water sports on its lakes and rivers.
The 150-kilometre long "Route des Lacs" takes you to all the region's main places of interest: museums, exhibitions, arts and crafts, local cuisine, remote areas, panoramic views, nature parks and other curiosities. This unusual itinerary is perfect for discovering the region's 20 lakes...
Franche-Comté boasts 5500 km of rivers, including 320 km of navigable waterways equipped with marinas and river stopovers, running through the picturesque and romantic Saône valley or the wilder Doubs valley.
The Jura Wine Route
From Salins-les-Bains to Saint-Amour, this itinerary nearly 80 km long is perfect for discovering the Jura vineyards between the winegrowers' towns and villages where Jura's vintages are lovingly prepared in the most traditional fashion of this age-old wine-growing region that has preserved all the marks of its prestigious past.
Its castles, abbeys, churches and large dwellings bear witness to this still to this day. The Wine Museum and the Pasteur museum (where the erudite scholar did all his great work, forming the basis for modern oenology) are both located in Arbois, Jura's wine capital.
Route du Comté
This road runs through Franche-Comté from North to South, from St Hippolyte right up to the southernmost tip of the Jura department, alongside the Dessoubre, Doubs Ain rivers, crossing the "Route des Sapins" and running alongside the St Point, Chalain and Vouglans lakes.
This route is perfect for learning more about how this cheese is made, where you can visit its cheese dairies in the villages where the cheese-makers have been using their copper tanks every day for centuries. Don't miss the cellars where the cheese is matured for several months before being sold.
The Techniques and Culture of Comté
This is an unusual regional tour of 10 museums located in various places across the region. The museums of Comté techniques and culture explain how raw materials (wood, steel, coal) were used and transformed to create new crafts and industrial activities.
Small Comté towns with character
An itinerary through 23 towns focusing on their architecture, craft industries, traditional festivals, everyday life and gastronomic specialities...
The Fir Tree Route
This runs from the town of Levier in the Doubs to Champagnole in the Jura, passing through Franche-Comté's most beautiful conifer forests.
It is 50 km long and goes through 10 000 hectares of state-owned or council-owned forests in the Levier, Joux and Chapois mountain ranges. These are Europe's most impressive fir plantations as far as tree height is concerned, some exceeding 45 metres in height and 1.30 metres in diameter.
This road joins the two tourist areas of the Loue valley and the Ain valley.
The Pasteur Route
A historical route to discover Pasteur's homeland: the two main sites of Arbois (Pasteur's house, laboratory, school, monument) and Dole (his place of birth, statue) are full of numerous souvenirs of Pasteur and his family: Aiglepierre (his school), Lemuy (birthplace of his forebears), Marnoz (his experiment on spontaneous generation), Salins-les-Bains (his father's home town), Villers Farlay (where he developed the rabies vaccine).
The Historical Route of Mountains and Marvels
Discover the region's cultural and industrial heritage through it s castles, museums and gardens.
The Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans (built by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux) and the Peugeot museum are also on this Comté route.
The Vauban Fortifications
In the area lying between the Vosges, the Saône, the Rhône and the Franco-Swiss border, most of which formed the old province of Franche-Comté, there are many fortifications dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The Heinrich Schickhardt European Cultural Itinerary
This is a discovery of European culture, bridging the former principality of Montbéliard, the Alsatian seigneuries and Wurtemberg, a chance to relive a key period of history, the Alemmanic Renaissance.
>> Top of page
The abundance of white water is one of Jura's characteristics. The region's relief makes its rivers follow a very unusual course, almost all of them featuring gorges, defiles, and waterfalls, which are at their most spectacular during the spring when the snow melts.
The Hedgehog waterfalls >> website
They are situated near Doucier, at the heart of the Lake District. The Hérisson rises in lake Bonlieu, 805 metres above sea level, then flows across the Doucier plateau at a height of 520 metres. This 280-metre difference in altitude stretches over 3.6 km, forming a multitude of waterfalls, which a re particularly impressive during rainy weather.
L'"Eventail" (the Fan, hence its name) is the most impressive of them, with its 65-metre fall in the form of a pyramid.
The "Grand Saut" waterfall is 60 metres high.
The "Saut du Moulin" and the "Saut Girard".
This site is easy to get to, and the forest paths running alongside the Hérisson River are very well maintained.
The source of the river Doubs >> website
It rises at an altitude of 937 metres in a cavern in the vale of Mouthe.
This is listed as Franche-Comté's leading natural site. From Villers-le-Lac, you can go on a 14-km cruise with a guide on a large sightseeing boat and admire the grandiose meanders of the Doubs, flowing through wild steep-sided gorges. Stop off at the Saut du Doubs and enjoy the two panoramic views overlooking the waterfall.
The Queue de Cheval (horsetail) waterfall
Accessible on foot from St Claude, this features a 50-metre waterfall in charming surroundings.
At the bottom of the remote Baume les Messieurs, near the entrance to the caves, springs a stream that turns into the river Dard, particularly in rainy weather.
The Billaude waterfall
The river Lemme near Champagnole forms a double waterfall 28 metres tall, which can be seen both from the viewpoint overlooking the Lemme valley and on foot, since a path leads up to it.
>> Top of page
Franche-Comté boasts 5 550 km of watercourses, including 320 km of navigable waterways. Some are suitable for canoeing and kayaking, while others offer numerous riverboat excursions.
Some of its rivers have been listed as being France's most beautiful with a wealth of fresh water fish species. Fishing is therefore very popular in all its forms, more particularly competitive fly-fishing. The Loue, Doubs and Dessoubre rivers are the fisherman's paradise.
The Doubs rises at an altitude of 937 metres in Mouthe. Its course is varied, flowing through green gorges, limestone terrain, or slowly meandering across the plain. It also forms the lakes of Saint-Point and Chaillexon.
The Doubs loop flowing around Besançon is famous.
At Villers-le-Lac, the Doubs spreads out and forms large lakes before reaching an impressive 27-metre waterfall, the Saut du Doubs. You can go on a riverboat tour from Villers-le-Lac.
The river, which gave its name to the Doubs department, leaves its mark on all the places it flows through. "Dubius" in Latin means dubious. The river is so called because its 430-km course changes direction three times, covering a distance of only 90km as the crow flies between its source and the point where it flows into the Saône.
This river, which gave its name to the Haute-Saône department, is considered as one of the best navigable rivers in the country, more particularly at Gray, which has become one of its main centres.
From its source in the Vosges right up to Lyon, where it flows into the Rhône, its navigable section covers a distance of 356 km, including 110 km just in Haute-Saône with only 17 locks. Its navigable portion starts at Corre. A modest river up to Port sur Saône, it widens out into a fully-fledged river at Gray. Before reaching Gray, it flows through an impressive tunnel nearly 700 metres long at Saint-Albin.
The Ain is a beautiful and powerful river, rising at an altitude of 750 metres on the Nozeroy plateau in a magnificent setting of forests. It is like a huge funnel, and the amount of water varies considerably from season to season. It then dives into a deep steep-sided gorge and disappears under a rocky outcrop known as the "perte de l'Ain" (loss of the Ain) to reappear further as a lovely waterfall.
The Ain then begins its long 190-km journey, 114 km of which cross the Jura through often deep-sided terrain, providing water for only one of the department's towns, Champagnole. It lows over foaming waterfalls and rapids through masses of broken rocks. The Ain gorges are underwater over a distance of 35 km, forming a reservoir behind the dam at Vouglans, which was commissioned in 1968. The Ain and its tributaries provide water for about fifteen hydroelectric power stations.
The course of the Bienne, one of the Ain's tributaries, is most picturesque, almost entirely flowing through gorges. It starts as a torrent near Les Rousses at 1 100 metres above sea level, then flows through the towns of Morez and Saint-Claude, where the Tacon joins it.
This is one of the most beautiful rivers in France. It rises near Ouhans, where the water gushes out of a rock, falling like a beautiful wall. The Loue's course is particularly appealing, and it is easy to go down it in a canoe. Its most interesting section lies between its source and Ornans; where over some 20 km it drops 229 metres in altitude.
The Loue valley is without doubt one of the most beautiful areas in our region.
Its succession of viewpoints and canyons offers a series of astonishing views and shelters lots of small picturesque villages.
Ornans, the valley's capital, is a perfect site for fishing. This small market town is the home of the Maison Nationale de l'Eau et de la Pêche (National Centre for Water and Fishing). It is a meeting place, a training centre and a unique museum in French terms, with over 4 000 fishing-related exhibits.
Its source is situated in a limestone rock face and plunges straight down, forming an impressive waterfall. It joins the Doubs at Saint-Hippolyte, a small village with lovely medieval and Renaissance houses.
It rises 1 060 metres above sea level in the Ballons des Vosges regional nature park. The Ognon starts off as a winding stream, then breaks up into a magnificent 15-metre high waterfall, the Saut de l'Ognon, after flowing through a narrow rocky gorge.
>> Top of page
Franche-Comté's natural heritage can also be found underground, with its 4 000 caves and chasms, where nature is a law unto itself.
The Moidons caves
These are located at Molain, 10km from Arbois, at the heart of the Jura forest in a conservation area. They were discovered in 1966 and are now at last open to the public. The guided visit of the 4 000-square-metre cave with its countless stalactites, stalagmites and columns ends with a "son and lumière" show.
The des Planches caves
This cave, 5 km from Arbois in the Planches canyon, has a running underground river. The phenomenon of erosion (potholes, columns...) is unique here. When the waters are high, the underground river can be seen at its best. Archaeology exhibition.
The Baume les Messieurs caves
These 30 million year-old caves are sited in a marvellous setting at the end of a canyon near Lons-le-Saunier. Access is via a metal ladder because the opening is 10 metres above ground level. There are about 1500 metres of galleries and four huge chambers, one of which is called the "salle des fêtes" (village hall) due to its exceptional acoustics.
The Osselle caves
These caves, located at St Vit 20 km from Besançon, are situated in a cliff overhanging a meander of the river Doubs. Its galleries were used as a during the French Revolution. Of its 8 km, 1 300 km of galleries have been developed. A small stone bridge, built in 1751, spans the underground river, offering a view of the chamber of columns and the white column chamber. Visitors can see a variety of geological features (crystal formations...) and historical and prehistoric treasures.
This is located at, 20km from Besançon. A "music and light " show underlines the supernatural feeling of this cave, which is one of Europe's largest underground chambers. To date, it is the largest developed one in France.
The Glacière cave
In this open-air cave, located at Chaux les Passavant 30 km from Besançon in the middle of a forest, the cold air and water seeping from the roof forms a large amount of ice. This is a unique phenomenon in Europe at such a low altitude (525 m). There is a mineral exhibition of over 5 000 crystals from all over the world nearby.
>> Top of page
Les Events and entertainment in
Cultural events in Franche-Comté
- Museums in spring Place: Nancray 25360 Date: avril Tél: 03-81-55-29-77
- Wood in all its forms Place: Nancray 25360 Date: mai Tél: 03-81-55-29-77
- Wild plants and flowers show Place: Pontarlier 25300Date: juin Tél: 03-81-46-48-33
- Museum show: Sacred secrets Place: Nancray 25360 Date: fin juin Tél: 03-81-55-29-77
- Jazz and Painting Place: Pontarlier 25300 Date: juillet/sept Tél: 03-81-46-48-33
- The Friday Beaumois open-air concerts Place: Baume-les-Dames 25110 Date: début juillet
- Open-air concerts at the Abbey Place: Baume-les-Dames 25110 Date: juillet
- Exposition à l'Abbaye Concerts en plein air Place: Baume-les-Dames 25110 Date: juillet/août
- Summer Fine Arts Festival Place: Besançon 25000 Date: juillet/août Tél: 03-81-80-92-55
- Deer bell folk festival
- Brame du cerf
diner et promenade nocturne accompagnée d'un guide Place: Arc et Senans 25610
Date: juillet/août Tél: 03-81-57-43-21
- The Joux Nights Festival Place: Pontarlier 25300
Date: août Tél: 03-81-39-29-36
- Open-air evening cinema at the citadel Place: Besançon 25000
- Rural festival "LAVIRON EN 1900" Place: LAVIRON (près de Pierrefontaine-les-Varans, à égale distance de Besançon, Montbéliard ou Pontarlier).
Un défilé costumé (tenues d'époque) de près de 300 personnes avec des véhicules anciens, du matériel agricole et artisanal d'autrefois...
Tél. : 03.81.56.08.65
- The Franche-Comté International Music Festival and Young Conductors' Competition Place: Besançon 25000 Date: septembre
- Harvests and fruit
Place: Nancray 25360 Date: mi-septembre
- International Film Meetings Place: Pontarlier 25300 Date: novembre Tél: 03-81-39-18-69
- Christmas Lights Place: Montbéliard 25200 Date: décembre
Haut de page
Sporting events in Franche-Comté
- The Nordic Event (cross-country skiing) Place: Chapelle-des-Bois 25 Date: février Tél: 03-81-69-22-78
- The Franco-Swiss snow marathon: cross-country skiing race Place: Les Cernets/Verriere de Joux 25 Date: février Tél: 03-81-46-48-33
- Sled dog race Place: Les Pontets 25 Date: février Tél: 03-81-69-29-48
- International sled dog race Place: Les Fourgs 25 Date: février Tél: 03-81-69-44-91
- The Transjurassienne: International long-distance cross-country skiing race from Lamoura to Mouthe Place: Jura et Doubs Tél: 03-84-33-45-13
- 28th Turchet Marathon Place: Les Pontets 25 Date: février Tél: 03-81-69-29-48
- All of Besançon on skates Place: Besançon 25000 Date: mars Tél: 03-81-41-23-14
- B Franco-Swiss Nordic Combined Event (Chaux-Neuve et Vallée de Joux)
Place: Chaux-Neuve 25
Date: mars Tél: 03-81-69-22-78
- The Marabouri (10, 20 and 40 km cross-country skiing events): treks for all
Place: Les Fourgs 25 Date: mars
- The Chalets Trek: cross-country skiing Place: Longeville Mont d'Or 25 Date: mars Tél: 03-81-49-90-72
- The Doubs Diagonal: Mountain-Bike events Place: Doubs 25
- The French Tarot Championship Place: Pontarlier 25300 Date: avril Tél: 03-81-46-48-33
- The 9th Edition of the Saugeathlon: Kayak-Running -Mountain bike
Place: Lievremont 25 Date: avril Tél: 03-81-38-10-32
- Mountain Bike events Place: Sancey-le-Grand 25 Date: mi-juin Tél: 03-81-86-32-60
- Vintage and Racing Car Hill Race Place: Métabief 25370 Date: juin/juillet Tél: 03-81-49-20-00
- The Loue-Lison Mountain Bike Trek in the Ornans valley Place: Montecheroux 25190 Date: juillet Tél: 03-81-92-50-00
- nternational Car Hill Race Place: Ornans 25290 Date: juillet Tél: 03-81-80-60-74
- International Car Hill Race Place: Vuillafans-Echevannes 25480 Date: juillet Tél: 03-81-80-54-29
- Swimming event across Lake St Point. The French long-distance swimming Cup Place: Saint Point 25160 Date: août Tél.: 03-81-46-48-33
- Rand'Haut Doubs Mountain-Bike event Place: Villers le Lac 25130 Date: 1er samedi de sept. Tél.: 03-81-68-13-91
Festivals in Franche-Comté
- Luna Park - Micropolis Place: Besançon 25000
- The Great Besançon Carnival Place: Besançon 25000 - Tél: 03-81-61-50-50
- Easter in flower Place: Nancray 25360 Date: Pâques Tél: 03-81-55-29-77
- Flavours of Yesteryear Place: Nancray 25360 Date: mi-avril Tél: 03-81-55-29-77
- The Trout Festival Place: Sancey le Long 25430 Date: mai Tél: 03-81-64-11-88
- The Fir Tree Festival Place: Levier 25270 Date: Pentecôte Tél: 03-81-49-52-00
- The Gentian Festival Place: Le Russey 25210 Date: Pentecôte Tél: 03-81-64-11-88
- The Egg Festival Place: Arc-sous-Cicon 25520 Date: juin Tél: 03-81-38-10-32
- The Snail Festival Place: La Riviere Drugeon 25 Date: juin Tél; 03-81-89-70-50
- Exceptional gathering of American Carsn Place: Bethoncourt 25200 Date: juin Tél: 03-81-96-68-53
- The Haymaking Festival Place: Nancray 25360 Date: juillet Tél: 03-81-55-29-77
- The Comté Cradle Festival Place: Déservillers 25 Date: juillet Tél: 03-81-86-55-24
- The Blueberry Festival Place: Frasne 25 Date: août Tél: 03-81-49-83-03
- The Morteau Sausage Festival Place: Morteau 25500 Date: août Tél: 03-81-67-18-53
- The Herds return from their Mountain Pasturese
Place: Les Hopitaux Neufs 25370 Date: fin août Tél: 03-81-49-05-76
- The Horse Festival Place: Maiche 25210 Date: août Tél: 03-81-64-03-01
- The Franche-Comté Folk Festival Place: Nancray 25360 Date: septembre Tél: 03-81-55-23-97
- The Hot-Air Balloon Event at the Royal Salt Works
Place: Arc-et-Senans 25610 Date: septembre/octobre Tél: 03-81-57-41-24
Fairs and Trade Shows in Franche-Comté
- Flea Market Place: Micropolis Besançon 25000 Date: Tous les 2èmes dimanches de chaque mois Tél: 03-81-41-08-09
- Model Fair Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000 Date: avril
- Comté Fair Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000 Date: mai
- The Great Flea Market Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000 Date: juin
- The Nature, Hunting, Fishing and Hiking Show Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000 Date: juin
- 72nd Annonciades Show Place: Pontarlier 25300 Date: juillet/août Tél: 03-81-46-48-33
- Car-boot sales Place: Ornans 25200 Date: juillet Tél: 03-81-62-21-50
- The Artisans au Grand Cours Place: Pontarlier 25300 Date: août Tél: 03-81-38-81-11Haut de page
- The Antique Dealers' Show Place: Pontarlier25300 Date: début septembre Tél: 03-81-46-49-47
- The Food-Lovers' Meeting at the Promenade Granvelle
Place: Besançon 25000 Date: septembre
- The Vegetable Fair Place: Nancray 25360 Date: octobre Tél: 03-81-55-23-97
- The 2002 Habitat and Decorative Arts Show Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000
Date: octobre Tél: 03-81-41-08-09
- The Wine Fair Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000 Date: octobre/novembre
- The Antique Dealers' Show Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000 Date: novembre
- 4th Scale Model Show Place: Montbéliard 25200
Date: novembre Tél: 03-84-28-53-11
- Christmas Flea Market Place: Micropolis, Besançon 25000 Date: décembre
- Christmas Market Place: Besançon 25000 Date: décembre
Tél: 03 81 80 92 55
Main events and shows in Jura
- Guided tours and events... Place: Arbois 39600 Date: juillet et août Tél: 03-84-66-55-50
- After 6 years and 3 months spent in casks, Jura's best Yellow Wines are selected and presented to the public.
Place: Montigny-les-Arsures 39 Date: février
- The Salt Fair. A parade on medieval and salt-related themes
Place: Salins les Bains 39110 Date: mai
- The Wine Faire Place: Arbois 39600 Date: juillet Tél: 03-84-66-55-50
- The Biou Fair Place: Arbois 39600 Date: septembre Tél: 03-84-66-55-50
- Grape-harvesting in the traditional way Place: Arbois 39600 Date: septembre Tél: 03-84-66-55-50
>> Top of page
Gastronomy in Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté cookery is simple and copious, based on cheese, salt meats and wine.
The Comté is the king of Comté cheeses. There are countless cheese dairies where cheese-making and maturing methods are demonstrated. (The Arbois Cheese Cooperative, a guided tour of the maturing cellars at Poligny, a tour of the Val de Loue organic cheese dairy at Grange de Vaivre…) It is still made as it used to be three or four centuries ago, and comes in three varieties, tangy, mature or mild.
Mont d'Or (named after the Jura peak) or Vacherin is a soft cheese packed in a spruce wood hoop and sold in a spruce wood box. It is eaten as is or oven-melted and hollowed out with a little Jura white wine poured in.
Morbier (named after the town) is a pressed uncooked cheese with a black stripe in its centre often served on Franche-Comté cheese boards too.
Mamirolle (named after a village in the Doubs) is a pressed uncooked cheese.
Bleu de Gex is a blue-veined cheese made of unpasteurized milk.
Cancoillotte (mainly served melted on a potato base and garnished with assorted cold meats) is very popular with the people of Franche-Comté.
Franche-Comté is also well known for its Morteau sausage, Comté smoked meats (smoked raw ham from Haut-Doubs, cooked ham on the bone, Luxeuil ham, Morteau sausage and Montbéliard sausage) smoked in the "tué" or "tuyé", an old method for heating houses.
Brési is like the meat from the Swiss Grisons and is often served as a garnish with Raclette. Smoked mountain meat is a general term encompassing any meat served with cabbage-based dishes (Comté Hot Pot or Stew) or with sauerkraut.
The main Franche-Comté desserts are the famous goumeau pancake (a mixture of egg, cream and butter) spread over bun dough that is also known as household cake.
Brandies and eaux-de-vie, in addition to those commonly found in other regions, are mainly represented in Franche-Comté by the absinthe made at Pontarlier and the world-famous Fougerolles kirsch. Gentian liqueur is made from the plant's roots in the Jura mountains.
There are five common grape varieties in Franche-Comté: Savagnin, Poulsard and Trousseau are varieties specific to Jura. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are also common in Burgundy.
Savagnin, a nutty wine, is what the famous and delicious yellow wine is made from, spending over six years in casks before bottling.
The Jura vines also produce wine made from dried grapes, Macvin, Crémant (sparkling wine) and a marc.
>> Top of page
Craft and heavy industry in Franche-Comté
Watch making in Comté had its illustrious practitioners whose works adorn the Trianon. In 1798, one of them discovered an escapement system that was the forerunner to the 20C invention of the alarm clock.
In the 19C, there were 5000 watchmakers in the Montbéliard area. The age of the peasant watchmaker, spending winter making his parts, gave way to large industrial concerns, of which Lip was the epitome for many years.
Watch making in Comté, specializing in inexpensive products, was hit hard by the economic slump and nearly disappeared. It is now slowly recovering, using mainly Swiss mechanisms and packaged by leading brand names, each one focusing on a particular market niche: Silberstein (for its design and subtle clock-making features), Pequignet (the nearest thing to a great Swiss make), Yema, Acteo, etc.
Casual visitors do not have to burden themselves with a Comté clock; they can still get beautiful inexpensive watches in perfect working order from Jura watchmakers'...
Nearly half of toys "made in France" are in fact "made in Comté".
The people of Jura are maybe grown-up children. They are above all ingenious, having made the most of their forests. Up to the 18C, wood turners were happy to fashion skittles and hoops. Workshops then started making popular painted metal toys.
The prosperous companies in Moirans successfully diversified into plastics and mechanized as early as the 1960s. The Smoby, Berchet, Clairbois, Charton toy companies continue to be on the lookout for the latest children's trends and fashions dictated by television.
The Comté toy industry, with a workforce of 2500 generating a billion Francs worth of turnover, is one of the area's most reliable industries
Although the lenses come from greater Paris, this Jura town has been making frames since they were invented at this very place by a nail manufacturer in 1796. In the 19C, Morez - whose motto was "See well, see far ahead " - was the capital of the pince-nez.
Today's stars are called Lamy, Charles Bourgeois, Dalloz, Crestin-Billet: they make both consumer products and products for leading brands (Manoukian, Nina Ricci, Lacoste, Boucheron...).
With a workforce of 3500 and turnover increasing by an average of 5% a year, the spectacle trade is far from being an industrial disaster in Franche-Comté!
The pipe industry, with its Bouffarde or short-stemmed clay, corn, earthenware, wood or sea foam pipes, reigned supreme for four centuries before dying a slow death.
Saint-Claude was the pipe capital, and still is even though the noble art of pipe-making hardly interests anyone anymore except a closed circle of globetrotters, writers, psychoanalysts and other smoking dandies...What a pity!.
The pipe used to be even more of a status symbol than the cigar. It was an art in itself, filling it, lighting it, puffing it slowly without letting it go out, leaving t to cool, cleaning it out... Tasks of such complexity required the supreme art of master turners skilled in carving famous figures and in carrying out all fifty-five of the tasks required to make the most ordinary of pipes.
The Morteau area used to be a centre for the art of bell making. Now the only company left only makes tourist souvenirs.
Franche-Comté was their country par excellence. This guild, a flourishing one during the Renaissance, went into decline during the Revolution. In the 19C however, the Morez turners made barrels for wooden watches. Now there are only a few left, including the wooden toy manufacturer Vilac, to pass on their heritage.
Mastery in watch making naturally led to the manufacture of robots, and the master craftsmen of the past often specialized in both. At Morteau, master watchmaker Yves Cupillard opened a museum to exhibit his finest creations.
Apart from the delicate diamond, the lapidaries from Haut-Jura (at Lajoux, Lamoura, etc.) cut all types of stones for many years during their long winter evenings: both precious and semi-precious stones... And even synthetic one as soon as they appeared on the scene in the early 20C... This cottage industry has now almost died away.
~ ~ ~
Le Détour, Guest rooms, Bed and Breakfast Inn
27 rue de Besançon - 25440 Buffard - Tél/Fax : 03 81 57