The historic Free County of Burgundy is the French region of Franche-Comté. The departments of Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saone and Territoire de Belfort belong to her. Around 1.1 million people live in the region. The border with neighboring Switzerland is special interesting. Because this is drawn through the natural border of the Jura massif. So Switzerland and France have through theregionFranche-Comté a border about 239 kilometers long.
The neighboring regions of Franche-Comté are Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne as well as Burgundy and Rhone-Alpes.
The landscapes of Franche-Comté
In the north and east are the highest mountains in the region. The Cret Pela measures 1495 meters and is located in the Jura department. The area is particularly characterized by its abundance of water. There are numerous lakes here spread over the entire area. Many of them are used for tourists and have advertised camping facilities and some also have paved accommodation.
The Franche-Comté region not only has a lot of water to offer, but also a lot of greenery. It has the highest forest cover in all of France. At 43 percent, this is where most of the forests of all 26 French regions can be found.
The main trees are beeches, oaks and of course the classic firs. Since the soils are very rich and fertile, they are used extensively for agriculture. All in all, this forms an idyllic picture of wonderfully cultivated fields in the middle of lush, green forests and between many small lakes.
Life in Franche-Comté
The population here lives in a large area. That means that the Population density is quite small. About 70 people live in one square kilometer. By 1955 the number had even fallen sharply. Most of today’s residents will move away from the rural area at some point. The younger generation in particular wants to go to the cities and to the university. More and more residents leave the country every year. Some come back, but most stay away forever. Here, especially in the Haute-Saone department, you will find many very small villages that do not have their own infrastructure. Post office, bistro or even bus stops are completely missing here. The larger and more popular cities are Besancon, Belfort, Montbeliard, Dole and Pontarlier.
The history of the Franche-Comté region
According to archaeologists, the area of today’s Franche-Comté was inhabited in prehistoric times by a tribe called the Sequaner. The capital Vesentio stood on the site of today’s Besancon. When the time of the Great Migration came, the area was inhabited by Burgundians and had belonged to the Franconian Empire since 534. Then it was transferred to the Kingdom of Burgundy. After the death of Rudolf III., Who had no descendants, the area passed to the Holy Roman Empire.
Barbarossa recognized the quality of the land of Franche-Comté and separated the entire area from the rest of Burgundy in 1169. He made it a palatinate county. This is also the stage at which Franche-Comté got its name, because Franche-Comté means in German: Free County, i.e. nothing other than Palatinate. This is the name of the region to this day.
When the new program regions were finally created in 1960, today’s Franche-Comté region emerged in its current form. It has even been a public establishment since 1972 and is under the direction of a regional prefect.
Throughout the Franche-Comté area, there are numerous important buildings from bygone times, which serve as monuments to commemorate the various eras.