Franche-Comté lies between Burgundy and Switzerland in the Vosges and Jura Mountain ranges, definitely an area for anyone who enjoys wide open alpine landscapes. Because of its artistic and historical heritage, the region’s capital Besançon is included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. The departments in Franche-Comté are: Doubs, Jura, Haut-Saône and Territoire de Belfort.
Mandeure Roman Theatre
In Roman times Epomanduodurum (present day Mandeure) was an important city located in a meander of the River Doubs. Today the remains of houses, thermal baths and a temple can be seen, but perhaps the most spectacular remnant of the Roman town is the theatre, said to have been the second largest in Roman Gaul. Backed into a hillside, it has no stage wall – just an amazing view over the valley.
Abbey Museum, Saint-Claude
The 15th – 18th century Abbey of Saint-Claude has been recently renovated to provide the home for a new museum of art and Medieval history in the Jura area. The basement of the Medieval abbey palace now house important archaeological artefacts from the Abbey of Saint-Claude. One of the many highlights of the museum is the series of wall paintings in a small chapelle that dates to the end of the Middle Ages. [Website]
Besançon Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology
Opened in 1694, the musée des beaux-arts et d’archéologie de Besançon is the oldest public museum in France, almost a hundred years older than the principal French museums. Through substantial donations of local and European archaeological artefacts and paintings and drawings by well known French and European artists, the museum displays an impressive collection of Europe’s cultural heritage. [Website]
Jura Archaeological Museum
Musée d’archéologie du Jura not only exhibits the archaeology of the Jura, from the Palaeolithic to the Medieval, it also exhibits the geological history of the Jura mountains – so some 400 million years of history from the creation of the Jura mountains, the dinosaur remains that have been found in the area, to the humans who have inhabited the Jura mountains from earliest times to the recent past.