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Last updated : Nov 2009
Burgundy & Franche-Comté
Burgundy & Franche-Comté - TravelPuppy.com
Burgundy begins near Auxerre, a small medieval town with a beautiful Gothic cathedral, and extends southward to the hills of Beaujolais just north of Lyon.

The départements are the Yonne, Côte d’Or, Nièvre and the Saône-et-Loire.

Driving through this region, one seems to be traversing a huge carte des vins, Mersault, Volnay, Beaune, Aloxe Corton, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin. This vast domain of great wines was for 600 years an independent kingdom, at times as strong as France itself, enjoying its heyday in the 15th century. Throughout history, however, Burgundy’s vineyards survived thanks in large part to the knowledge, diligence and good taste of its monks. Several of the orders owned extensive vineyards throughout the region, among them the Knights of Malta, Carthusians, Carmelites and, most importantly, the Benedictines and Cistercians. As a result the 210km (130 mile) length of Burgundy is peppered with abbeys, monasteries and a score of fine Romanesque churches, notably in Fontenay, Vézelay, Tournus and Cluny. There are also many fortified châteaux.

Dijon, an important political and religious centre during the 15th century, has several fine museums and art galleries and the Palais des Ducs, once the home of the Dukes of Burgundy. There are also elegant restored town houses to be visited, dating from the 15th to the 18th century, and a 13th-century cathedral. The towns of Sens and Macon both possess fine churches dating from the 12th century.

The region of Franche-Comté is shaped like a fat boomerang and is made up of the départements of Doubs, Jura, Haute Saône and Territoire de Belfort. The high French Jura Mountains, rising in steps from 245 to 1785m (805-5856ft), run north–south along the French–Swiss border.

To the west is the forested Jura plateau, the vine-clad hills and eventually the fertile plain of northern Bresse, called the Finage. The heights and valleys of the Jura are readily accessible and, in the summertime, beautifully green, providing pasture land for the many milk cows used in the production of one of the great mountain cheeses: Comté. In ths region there are many lovely rivers including Semouse, Allance, Gugeotte, Lanterne, Barquotte, Durgeon, Colombine, Dougeonne, Rigotte and Romaine (named by Julius Caesar). They weave and twist, now and then disappearing underground to reappear again some miles away. All these physical characteristics combine to make Franche-Comté an excellent region for summer holidays and winter sports.