Relaxed secret tip
Undetected, almost sleepy, the Franche-Comté is located in eastern France between Burgundy and Switzerland, only 3,5 train hours with the direct TGV from Frankfurt am Main and yet a little different, southern - and above all unbelievably relaxed. With an area of 16.202 km², the region has just under 1,2 million inhabitants and also mass tourism is sought in vain here.
This makes the region a relaxed insider's tip to relax for a short weekend break or to be active in sports: The forest share is with 43% the highest of all French regions, the Lac Saint-Point (also called Lake of Malbuisson) on With a length of six kilometers, 1.000 meters of sea level is the third largest natural lake in the region and the largest mountain lake in France. Unfortunately, it is completely surrounded by a well-traveled road. In addition, green hills, rivers, numerous other lakes, the Jura mountains, villages and small towns characterize the landscape of the region - at comparatively low prices.
Cycling and walking trails full
The great highlights are here in vain, but you can go on the water, with bicycles and on foot. The Eurovélo 6 cycling route from the Atlantic to the Black Sea runs along 187 kilometers along the Doubs River through the Franche-Comté. You can rent eBikes, but also take the river with houseboats and kayaks. The relaxed atmosphere is almost palpable.
However, I was particularly interested in the Echappée jurassienne, the 260 kilometer longest hiking trail of the Jura, which starts on the banks of the river Doubs in Dole and ascends from the plain to the Jura mountains. It offers hikers numerous routes with different degrees of difficulty and conditional requirements. The paths are well signposted and marked, and regularly find hotels and hostels, so-called gites, which also make it possible to walk several days without problems.
The birthplace of Louis Pasteur
However, one should reserve this partial. Also his luggage must always be carried along, a luggage transport service is in the region rather poorly developed. There are also guides for the tours, but these do not always speak English or German. The only guidebook for the itinerary is available only in French.
In Dole, the birthplace of the famous microbiologist Louis Pasteur (1822 - 1895), the 3 star La Cloche offers an overnight stay: from the outside a little unimpressive, it surprises with elegant, almost luxurious rooms and a non-typical France rich breakfast. Originally the restaurant Le Local in Dole with good food, but not necessarily the best service.
The health resort of the French Emperor
The old salt-mining town of Salins-les-Bains is one of the larger towns on the way. The town once grew big thanks to its saltworks, in the 19. In the 19th century it was discovered as a brine spa resort - among others also appreciated by the French emperor - until 1962 closed the saltworks. To remember the glorious time still remember the casino and thermal bath.
The French hotel chain Logis has two hotels in the city: The Hotel Résidence Sander, whose spacious rooms, furnished with beautiful old furniture, also have kitchens. I found it funny that in the otherwise rather old-fashioned building a modern charging station for iPod, iPad and iPhone was to be found. And the Grand Hôtel Bains with a typical good restaurant.
The best chocolate in France
Good 13 KM it is from Salins-les-Bains to Arbois. The town with its population of 3500 is located in the midst of 800 hectares of vineyards, on which are cultivated the vines of the yellow and straw wine characteristic for Franche-Comté.
But Arbois has other celebrities to offer: Louis Pasteur spent a large part of his childhood in Arbois and later returned regularly to the city. The house can still be admired as a museum. And the supposedly best chocolaty of France, Hirsinger, is here. Arbois is also considered a city of good taste.
Culinary in the Hermitage
The culinary highlight of our trip, however, was rather inconspicuous and therefore the understatement typical of the region: In the municipality of Métabief - Rochejean is quite a distance the alpine hut La Petite Echelle, quasi a hermitage.
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There is no electricity and no running water, guests of the hostel stay in a yurt, an igloo-like multi-purpose tent, the outhouse in a modern timber construction is outside and the restaurant in the cottage is conceivably simple - but the food that Maestro Norbert in conjuring his apron, is a dream:
Fondue with special, self-collected herbs, Rösti with flower arrangements, fresh Raberkuchen of the dessert - there comes for me the Michelin-starred restaurant hotel (simple, but very comfortable) Au bon accueil in Malbuisson not quite, even if the kitchen of Of course, Marc Faivre and his wife Catherine are a different story.
From Malbuisson it goes to the Belvédère des Lacs, a fantastic vantage point with a view of the lakes Lac de Narlay, Lac d'Ilay, Petit Maclu, Grand Maclu and Lac Du Vernois. If the visibility is clear, you can also see Mont Blanc from here.
Not too far from the Belvédère des Lacs are the Hérisson Falls: they are made up of 31 waterfalls and torrents that can all be experienced up close during a three-hour hike - mostly uphill. In the Hérisson valley in the Jura department, people who settled for the enormous power of the water and the local natural resources, such as iron ore, wood and cereals, began to settle down early. Visitors can still discover traces of this settlement along the water. Great air that relaxes the body!
In the vicinity of the waterfalls there are several very large camping pitches, which are mainly occupied in August. In addition, the hiking trail itself is very well visited, whoever wants to enjoy the waterfalls in peace, should come early because it can be busy from noon on the hiking trail.
Solid footwear is necessary
It is also necessary to wear solid footwear, preferably hiking boots, with a good profile sole. On the forest path lie a lot of loose stones, which are also damp and slippery due to the water vapor. There is therefore a certain risk of injury to unsuitable footwear.
Also on the 2,5-hour hike from Château Chalon to Baume-Les-Messieurs you need good hiking boots and a good condition. The path is not slippery, but also littered with lots of loose stones, which can quickly become a stumbling block on the steep descent.
One of the most beautiful villages in France
Baume les Messieurs is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is surrounded by picturesque vineyards and rocks. The Saint-Pierre Benedictine Abbey, founded by 909, was rebuilt several times over the course of time. At the end of the valley above Baume-les-Messieurs (Cirque de Baume) lies the source of the Dard in a rock grotto, under which the water forms a large bead of Kalktuff. In the restaurant of the grotto you can eat directly next to a waterfall.
Conclusion: Overall, the Franche-Comté offers a diverse range for outdoor friends in a picturesque setting. However, the right equipment when hiking is a must, as well as French, as other languages can not be assumed.
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