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The Franche-Comte Region of France

Location:

The Franche Comté region is located in eastern France bordered by Lorraine to the north, Champagne-Adrenne and Burgundy in the west, Rhone-Alpes to the south and Alsace and Switzerland to the east.


Climate:

This region and in particular Besancon is under the influence of both an oceanic climate and a continental climate. Annual precipitation is high, and much of it falls as snow in the upper elevations of the Jura Mountains. Winters in the mountains are long and severe with snow and frost, yet warm and dry summers.


Geography:

Between the Vosges range of mountains to the north and the Jura range to the south, the landscape consists of rolling cultivated fields, dense pine forest and mountains. Franche-Comte is divided into four departments: Belfort Territory, Haute-Saone, Doubs and Jura. With an area of 6,256 square miles and an estimated population of 1,173,000 the region is fairly rural.


History:

The region was occupied by the Celts in the 4th century BC and then was conquered by Julius Caesar in 52 BC. The Burgundians overran the area in the 5th century where it was included in the First Kingdom of Burgundy and was annexed by the Franks in 534. The territory was united in the 9th century as the Free County of Burgundy, or Franche-Comté. Franche-Comté passed to the Holy Roman Empire in 1034; but the allegiance was tenuous, and for six and a half centuries Franche-Comté was perpetually invaded and contested by France, Germany, Burgundy, Switzerland, and Spain. Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, acquired Franche-Comté through his marriage to Margaret of Flanders in 1369. After the defeat and death of Charles the Bold (1477), the region passed to Archduke Maximilian of Austria (later Emperor Maximilian I), who in turn gave it to his son Philip I of Spain. Governed by native officials, Franche-Comté enjoyed relative autonomy under the Spanish crown. At the end of Charles V's reign (1556), Franche-Comté became a possession of the Spanish Hapsburgs. Louis XIV conquered Franche-Comté in 1668 and again in 1674 and finally obtained its cession from Spain. Although the region’s parliament continued to function, the provincial assembly was abolished, and Franche-Comté became an integral part of France.


Culture:

The region’s cuisine and culture is heavily influenced by its neighbor, Switzerland. Forty percent of the region's GDP is dependent on manufacturing activities, and most of its production is exported. Construction of automobiles and their parts is one of the most buoyant industries here. The region has a large and lucrative cheese-making industry, with 40 million tons of cheese produced here each year.



The Official Franche-Comte Tourism Site
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