Nestled along France's border with Switzerland, Franche Compte is one of the last bastions of French history and culture before crossing the Swiss border. Home to many strategic places during a lengthy series of conflicts between the French, Prussians, Italians and Swiss, Franche-Compte is one of the oldest regions of mainland France.
The citadel of Vauban de Besançon
Featured on the UNESCO world heritage list and known as one of the major Vauban fortifications, the citadel is comprised of two urban surrounding walls with a surface area of 195 hectares. On the right bank of Doubs River are the Battant walls. Divided by two battle forts and dominated by fort griffon, the defensive fortifications are a second city that faces the first. Six towers and fortified canons were constructed by Vauban, situated far from the left bank of Doubs as a way of defending the city, both of which were a major innovation in the era of wartime architecture. One of the towers has become a place of musical creation, and two others have recently been restored to welcome exhibitions and cultural events. The citadel also accommodates a diverse museum that incudes an insectarium, an aquarium, and a zoo with endangered species such as lemurs and lions.
If it's not the best, it's certainly one of the best French cheeses. Made from unpasteurized milk and aged for over several months, Compté is the most produced cheese on the French mainland. Its terroir is the Jura Massif, mid-mountain region that extends over the Jura, the Doubs and Ain. Thanks to its AOP label, the Montbéliard and Simmental cows are the only ones used to produce the milk for Compté. This delectable cheese is made by hand across nearly 150 dairy farms in the region every single day.
The Hérisson Falls
The Hérisson Falls or Hedgehog Falls are part of a natural site that's been protected since 2002, and the valley where the falls are located is postcard-perfect. The series of seven waterfalls stemming from the lakes of Ilay and Bonlieu extends along a 3.7 km footpath, making for a beautiful forest walk filled with the sounds of rushing water.
The Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans
The first stone of the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans was placed in 1775. Here, the production of salt had a fundamental economic importance, and due to its prominence this building was conceived by the legendary Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. This genius architect and visionary designed the works to be like a city, although these plans were abandoned.
Métabief: the jewel of the Jura Mountains
In the summer, Metabief is well-known for its mountain bike paths and hiking trails. Near the town's main bus stop, there are also many other interesting attractions such as Golden Mountain, Remoray Lake and its reserve, and the Saint-Point Lake and its sunbathing beaches where the Fort de Joux still remains.