A region of wide forested plateaux, the Franche-Comte ascends like a staircase to the Swiss border. Here, in the Jura department, an area of flower filled alpine meadows and pine and spruce forest, there is very much a mountainous feel, however without the high or steep climbs of the Alps (which you can see in the distance).
The plateaux are separated by dramatic gorges, where you'll discover spectacular waterfalls and underground caves, teeming with stalactites and stalagmites. As you descend westwards towards the flat and fertile Saone plain, you reach the gentler slopes of the Wine region. Mediaeval towns and picturesque villages, some of the prettiest in France, are dotted amongst the vines, with the impressive backdrop of steep sided limestone cliffs.
On our cycling holidays in Franche-Comte you'll pass through postcard-pretty villages decked with flowers and adorned with handsome fountains, their church roofs gleaming with the brightly-coloured tilework of the region. The houses are built of honey-coloured stone, each one equipped with old-fashioned chains and pulleys for hoisting winter hay up to the grenier above.
This is where they make the celebrated Comte cheese, considered superior to Gruyere. Only the freshest milk will do, so you'll see lots of little carts carrying mil