For many spectators, the Tour de France route is an opportunity to discover the riches of the regions it passes through. The tourist guide, published in electronic format this year, lists the outstanding sites of cultural or architectural heritage for each stage.
Download the tourist guide of the stage(.pdf, 13 pages)
This somewhat unusual French administrative region corresponding to a former province, the Earldom of Burgundy, (roughly equivalent to today’s Franche-Comté and its four counties – Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône and the Territoire de Belfort) has retained a certain homogeneity and a true historical character.
Bordering Switzerland, Franche-Comté is a mountainous region, but it is also reputed for having the largest area of woodland in France, covering some 700,000 hectares, i.e. 43 % of its surface area. Although the fir tree is its emblem, the region also boasts the second largest deciduous forest in France, namely the “Forêt de Chaux”.
Population is concentrated around two major urban centres, Belfort-Montbéliard and Besançon, where many industrial activities are grouped. Peugeot in Sochaux, watchmaking and micro-technical industries in Besançon, and Alstom in Belfort, have all shaped the local economy and still strongly influence it today.
A paradise for cross-country skiers, the region has still to develop its full tourism potential. Yet its local fare - Morteau or Montbéliard smoked sausages, “Comté” (hard cheese), “Mont d’Or” (or Vacherin) cheese, vin jaune (lit. yellow wine), straw wine – and its abundant vegetation, which make it the greenest region in France, are sizeable assets.
The town’s castle, besides its eventful past, once hosted the Sherlock Holmes museum created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s son, having resided there. It has since been moved to the “Maison Rouge” (Red House) in Lucens.
The village has gained world fame through its famous hard cheese; even a museum has been set up in its honour.
Sub-prefectures: Montbéliard, Pontarlier
Capital town: Lausanne
Capital town: Fribourg
Capital town: Sion
Rod Barthet, a singer-guitarist who was born in Pontarlier, played the opening session of the John Lee Hooker concert. His latest CD entitled “Sous une Bonne Étoile” (“Under a Lucky Star”) may be legally downloaded. He will be in concert in Pontarlier on the occasion of the Tour de France.
“Even though my concerts have taken me to many countries, I still live in Pontarlier. It is a small, very pleasant town, with 20,000 inhabitants, and where I feel comfortable. People all seem to know each other and a good quality of life can be found there. For my music, it would probably be better to live in a big town, but here in Pontarlier, I find both my personal and professional balance. Besides, my companion and I wish to start a family…
Generally, I spend my days in my home-studio composing songs. The Saint-Point natural lake, with its 7-km perimeter, is an ideal place to relax. In the region, there are many medium-mountain scenes with beautiful pine-tree forests crossing the Jura Mountain range. I adore snow-shoe outings or fishing in the tiny lakes. In Pontarlier, I really like the restaurant “L’Alchimie”. The chef there is very inventive: sometimes he spends the whole night hunting for recipes. He would merit obtaining at least a one Michelin star. “Porte Saint-Pierre” (Saint-Peter’s door) - the remains of the old fortifications - and “Place Saint-Pierre” (Saint-Peter’s Square) are also worth visiting.
As for the Tour de France, I watch it on the telly, especially the mountain stages. When, like me, you do a bit of mountain biking, you can only admire the great effort produced. I also like watching the flashbacks that talk about the achievements of Merckx or Coppi. And of course, I follow Christophe Moreau, a local lad”.