A well-kept French secret: Franche-Comté

In the North-East of France, a not-so-famous region deserves a gold medal for its gorgeous landscapes and friendly inhabitants.

I always thought I’d have to travel far to enjoy my breath being taken away by some glorious landscape. Little did I know that only two hours and half away from Paris existed what was to become my favorite region in the country, if not in the world. What if I told you Franche-Comté has everything you can ask from the French countryside? Delicious food, mainly composed of smoked sausages that taste like heaven, or “Comté”, the cheese that gets its name from the place, as well as more exotic, and also more stinky but as scrumptious ones such as the “Cancoillotte” (pronounce “Can-kwa-yott”), or the “Morbier” (“mor-biay”).

For those who love vast, green spaces, Franche-Comté has everything to make you more than happy. A 5-minute bike ride out of downtown Besançon (its capital), down the Doubs river, gets you out into the countryside, gazing at cows along the way, and taking in the fresh air into your lungs. Downtown, you will also be able to enjoy Besançon’s beautiful citadelle, as well as the 7 hills that surround the town and used to protect it from getting invaded during the Middle Ages. Stones are old in Besançon, and they whisper tales of old conquests and magic.

A little further south, in Villers-le-lac, you will find the famous “Saut-du-Doubs” (the “Doubs’ jump”), where a waterfall attracts numerous well-informed tourists each year. Hiking along the river, you will wonder if you didn’t suddenly teleport to one of Canada’s forests. No need to fly to Québec to enjoy trees that speak French and kindly grant you their welcoming shadow. One jump across the river and you’re in Swiss territory.

A knock on the door of this community-held retreat house will grant you savoursome saucisson and Comté before you head back from your hike.

Forests are not your thing? How about the Caribbean? If you are longing for a crystal clear water warmer than the Atlantic ocean, travel down to the village ‘Le Frasnois’, then to the lake of Narlay, where the most charming campground will be expecting you with no need for reservation. There, you will be able to enjoy cliff diving, as well as a nice little beach and a bright blue fresh water lake.

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The Lake of Narlay

And while you’re at it, take a 10-minute car-ride down to the “Cascade du Hérisson”, also in Le Frasnois. There, you will be able to hike along the water, gazing at fairies that may be bathing or suntanning on the rocks of the shallow river in summer.

The Hedgehog’s waterfall (La Cascade du Hérisson)

There is not one person that I have met from Franche-Comté that I haven’t fell in love with (or so to speak). Being brought up in the south of France, I had never heard of this region until I met a few people from there that — thank Goddess — introduced me to their gorgeous region, which I instantly fell in love with.

French-American writer. Comedian. Traveler. Witch. Featured on VICE (fr) — or how I got paid to write about my life instead of going to therapy. Paris//Chicago

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