Franche-comte Festivals-10 Gems Of Festivals In Franche Comte By A True Francophile
You may know Franche-Comté as the birthplace of French chef Raymond Blanc. Or perhaps you know it as the home of the Jura - a magnificent mountain range that's smaller than the Alps but just as beautiful. Or perhaps it's the local Comté cheese which has caught your attention. Whatever your connection with Franche-Comté, it's a glorious region of mountains, forests, lakes and ancient towns that promises a stunning visit at any time of year.
And like every region in France, Franche-Comté has a varied and thoroughly entertaining event calendar that ranges from the flea markets of Belfort and the rock festival of Le Malsaucy, to the 700-year old fair of Vesoul.
So why not spend a little time in this most beautiful corner of France and get to know its local customs, cultures and delightful eccentricities by exploring its wide and varied range of yearly events. We're sure you'll soon find a favourite.
1) Jura Wine Festival, Voiteur 2nd - 3rd February 2013 The Percée du Vin Jaune is an important festival in the wine grower's (and enthusiast's) calendar. It celebrates the release of the latest vin jaune vintage, which has been aging for six years. The chosen town or village - which changes every year - comes alive with dozens of stands and stalls, ready for visitors to come in their thousands to taste, discover and buy the latest vintage.
2) Flea Market, Belfort March - December (Monthly) The city of Belfort hosts a lively flea market on the first Sunday of each month between March and December, which showcases a huge range of items, trinkets and collectables from France's North East. From crockery and baking goods to clocks, books and furniture, it's a traditional market scene that always welcomes a spot of haggling. So brush up on your French numbers and come and enjoy a real bargain hunt.
3) Comtoise Fair, Besançon 4th - 12th May 2013 The Comtoise Fair is a perfect opportunity to learn about the regional customs and traditions of Franche-Comté and of course, sample its local specialities. The Parc des Expositions in Besançon hosts the event, which sees hundreds of exhibitors displaying their wares to thousands of customers who come to sip, slurp and savour their way around this grand annual fair. It's a treat for the senses and a wonderful way to explore the delights of the region.
4) Ice Skating, Lons-le-Saunier December 2013 (dates TBC) The town of Lons-le-Saunier, capital of the Jura, installs an ice skating rink every December for three weeks. Brush off your skates, wrap up warm and come and enjoy a bit of nostalgia on the ice. After a slug of pastis or a hot mulled wine you might even dare to let go of the sides. Games and entertainment are laid on, making it a fun-filled outing for all ages.
5) Eurockéennes, Le Malsaucy 4th - 7th July 2013 The very setting of this acclaimed rock festival is reason enough to join in - let alone the list of big names that appear on the line-up. One of France's largest rock music festivals, Eurockéennes, takes place in a nature reserve beside Lac de Malsaucy near the city of Belfort. It has been based in the reserve since 1989 and has attracted a steadily growing crowd every year, which is now in the hundreds of thousands. Big-name British band Blur have been confirmed for 2013, which is testament to the festival's widespread acclaim.
6) International Music Festival, Besançon September (date TBC) Since its inauguration in 1948, making it one of the oldest of its kind, the international festival at Besançon has celebrated classical music in its many different forms. Taking place over two weeks during September, the event strikes a chord with music enthusiasts and artists of all ages and styles, and is particularly renowned for its biennial Young Conductors' competition - which has been attributed with kick-starting the careers of many of today's most celebrated conductors.
7) Les 30 Clochers, Dole 1st September 2013 Here's one for the active types. Les 30 Clochers is an annual event featuring a variety of cycling and walking trails throughout the beautiful Jura Mountains. There is a wide choice of marked routes of varying difficulties which are designed to take in the stunning landscapes of the Jura, also passing through local villages to allow for pit-stops and picnics. In particular, hikers and bikers can enjoy landmarks such as the banks of the Doubs, the forest of Chaux and the Massif de la Serre through. Whether you hike or amble, pedal or freewheel, this is a fun event and the perfect way to discover the region's natural beauty.
8) Château de Joux Medieval Festival, Pontarlier October (date TBC) The dramatic Chateau de Joux is worthy of a visit at any time of year but especially during October, when its lively medieval festival brings the history of the castle to life. Step into the Middle Ages with a diverse programme of events including pageants, live music, dance, games, workshops, demonstrations and bird of prey flights, and much more. It's the perfect way to bone up on your French history, entertain the kids and have a thoroughly enjoyable day out while you're at it.
9) Foire du Jura, Lons-le-Saunier October (date TBC) Focusing on a different nation each year, the Jura Fair is an explorative journey into global customs, cuisine and cultures. Tunisia took to the helm in 2012, preceded by Thailand, and each time the event serves up a wonderful array of stalls and stores, featuring a variety of highlights including cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, homewares, crafts, fashion accessories and more.
10) Foire de la Sainte-Catherine, Vesoul 25th November 2013 Believe it or not, Vesoul's Foire de la Sainte-Catherine has been running since 1295. Yes - 1295! But it's in no way past its sell-by date. Today, this wonderful fair captures the customs and traditions of the region, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Originally, it was an agricultural fair that was mostly occupied with livestock trading. Pigs and cattle have since given way to stall upon stall of local delicacies, sweet treats, gingerbread (pig-shaped), tasty charcuterie, local wines and more. It's also a chance for the Vesoul girls to revive a local tradition. Any ladies of 25 who are as yet unmarried dress up in enormous hats with the intention of finding a husband. It's a truly wonderful, traditional and cheerful affair that's not to be missed.
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