1,000 Years of Artisanal Cheesmaking

Travel to the Region

Beyond Comté – Travel to the Region

The Comté region located in the mountains of the Jura, is not only known for its cheese production, but also for its outdoor activities, its cultural heritage, and its rich gastronomic traditions.

Outdoor Activities

With lakes, rivers, prairies, forests and canyons, the Jura Mountain region is considered France’s outdoor playground. For more tourism and travel information, including accommodations, itineraries, trail maps and more, visit: www.franche-comte.org

  • Hiking
    The Franche-Comté has nearly 7,000 km of hiking trails. There are trails for every skill level, from amateurs to enthusiasts, ranging from short hikes to days-long excursions. Trails can be explored on foot, on horseback or on mountain bike. The most famous trails form the Grande Traversée du Jura (or GTJ), a fabulous journey over the Jura mountains, 360 km from North to South, http://www.gtj.asso.fr/
  • Biking
    Cycling is immensely popular in the Comté region, for both serious enthusiasts as well as for beginners and families. The region has bountiful bike paths and bike routes and also boasts 187 km of beautiful stretches of the EuroVélo 6 bike trail which runs from the Atlantic to the Black Sea http://en.eurovelo6-france.com/). The GTJ also provides a wonderful itinerary for lovers of mountain biking or bicycling, http://www.gtj.asso.fr/
  • Boating
    There are over 5,500 km of rivers and canals in the Franche-Comté as well as 80 lakes. Water activities such as barging, canoeing, fishing, snorkeling and rafting, as well as the region’s lakeside beaches and swimming facilities, draw visitors from across Europe
  • Skiing
    The Comté region boasts one of the most extensive cross-country ski and snowshoe areas in all of France. The region also draws downhill skiers to the Metabief resort and to the Les Rousses ski resort, which pride themselves on values of authenticity and hospitality. Every year the Grande Traversée du Jura (GTJ) offers 180 km of trails in winter. The mythical Transjuracienne is the climax of the cross-country season. Since 1979, it attracts athletes from all over the world in mid-February.
    http://www.transjurassienne.com/les-courses/la-transjurassienne-1-288.htm

Culture and Heritage

From its idyllic villages and grand cities, to its museums and historical attractions, the Comté region is rich in heritage and culture.

  • Besançon
    Classified as a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire, Besançon has a rich cultural and architectural heritage in addition to being the political and economic capital of the Franche-Comté. The city is known for its museums, restaurants and cultural events, as well as for the Citadelle of Besançon, which is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. http://www.besancon-tourisme.com/en/
  • Baume-les-Messieurs
    Voted the most beautiful town in France, Baume-les Messieurs attracts visitors for its pristine landscapes, hiking trails, waterfalls, caves and its ancient abbey. http://www.baumelesmessieurs.fr/
  • The Royal Saltworks and the Saltworks of Salins-Les Bains
    The Comté region was an important place of salt production beginning in the 15th Century due to its deep, underground saltwater springs. During the Enlightenment, Louis XV ordered the creation of the Saline Royale at Arc-et-Senans, which was built according to utopian vision by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. The Saline Royale and the saltworks of Salins-Les-Bains, which now houses a museum, are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. http://www.salins-les-bains.com/
  • La Maison du Comté
    Located in the heart of Poligny, the Maison du Comté is a museum which gives visitors an insider look into Comté, from its thousand-year-old heritage to its present-day artisanal production process. Visitors learn how to properly taste Comté and explore the Comté Wheel of Aromas. http://www.maison-du-comte.com/
  • Musée des Maisons Comtoises
    This open-air museum extends over thirty-five acres in Nancray, featuring carefully restored houses from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as well as an ancient Comté fruitière, or cheesemaking facility. Visitors can also explore the museum’s themed gardens and visit farm animals. http://www.maisons-comtoises.org/
  • Other Museums…
    The region also boasts museums devoted to local luminaries, including the Musée du Pasteur in Dole and the Maison du Pasteur in Arbois covering the life and work of renown scientist Louis Pasteur, and the Musée Courbet in Ornans, featuring the work of French painter Gustave Courbet

Gastronomy

The Jura Mountains are home to a long gastronomic heritage, tied closely to the seasons, the rich soils, and the region’s abundance of lakes, rivers and streams.

  • Routes du Comté
    Comté has played a significant role in defining the culture, environment and economy of the Jura Mountain region. Visitors can discover the making of Comté first-hand, from the pastures to the aging centers, through the Routes du Comté, which connects travelers to Comté dairy farms, cheesemaking facilities (fruitières) and aging cellars (caves d’affinage). The Comté Cheese Association has also created a series of eight Savoureux Circuits, or one- to two-day regional travel itineraries with accompanying maps and videos. www.comte.com/visiter/idees-de-savoureux-circuits.html
  • Cheese & Charcuterie
    The Jura Mountains are home not only to Comté but also to three other PDO cheeses: Morbier, Mont d’Or and Bleu de Gex. The region is also known for its smoked meats and charcuterie, including Morteau and Montbéliard sausages, which are traditionally smoked using locally raised pork. Other specialties include smoked hams from the Haut-Doubs, which are rubbed with dry salt then smoked, and Brési, a smoked beef that is dried and served in thin slices.
  • Wine
    Jura wines have obtained cult status in the past decade due to their expressive, distinctive flavors and the growing interest in natural wines. There are 2,000 hectares of vineyards in the Jura with five grape varieties: Savagnin, Poulsard, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Trousseau. The Savagnin grape is perhaps the most revered in the region (representing about 15% of vines grown), producing the unique Vin Jaune, which is aged in oak barrels for 6 years and 3 months. Other specialties include Vin de Paille (“straw wine”), a rich wine made from grapes that have dried for several months; Crémant, a crisp and floral sparkling wine; and Macvin, a liqueur wine made from mixing unfermented wine with marc. http://www.jura-vins.com/
  • Absinthe
    Absinthe is made with wormwood, an aromatic perennial with strong floral and herbal aromas that is reputedly of the highest quality in the Jura region. Absinthe production peaked in Pontarlier around 1900, but production ceased in 1915 when the spirit was banned in France due to its alleged side effects. This ban was partially lifted in 1998, and was totally repealed in 2005. Pontarlier is now working to reestablish its place as the world capital of absinthe. Today, visitors to Pontarlier can explore the “Absinthe Trail,” a map and itinerary that takes travelers from Pontarlier to the Val de Travers in Switzerland http://www.routedelabsinthe.com
  • Restaurants
    The Comté region is home to hundreds of restaurants serving traditional as well as modern fare, from rustic chalets such as La Petite Echelle to fine-dining establishments. There are nine Michelin-starred restaurants in the Jura and Doubs. Cheese stores and local markets can also be found in nearly every town, offering the best local cheeses, produce and meats.

    http://www.lapetiteechelle.com/

    http://restaurant.michelin.fr/restaurants/france/jura/

    http://restaurant.michelin.fr/restaurants/france/doubs/

Past and present traditional crafts

Finally, the Comté region is known for a variety of traditional crafts, and many local markets and museums illustrate the region’s century-old heritage, from making brass bells, to wooden boxes and toys, to clocks, watches, and eyeglasses.