Franche-Comté is a small region of the eastern France and adjacent to Switzerland. Its geographical position allows it to have privileged contacts with the Italian, Swiss and German markets. Its four departments (Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône and Territoire de Belfort) however contain a lot of curiosities. Nestling three sites part of the UNESCO World Heritage - the Fortifications of Vauban and two Saltworks - , it is a little-known region which allies the tranquillity of a natural environment with a rich cultural heritage.
One of the explications of its name is that the Franche Comte has always remained a ‘Free County’. In spite of the numerous occupations it underwent, it has preserved its language and traditions. In 2008 it accounted for 1,159,000 inhabitants which are concentrated mostly in Doubs and Territoire de Belfort. The lowest densities are to be found in Jura and Haute-Saône. The regional capital is Besançon, which is famous for its language school, the C.L.A and welcomes a lot of students of different nationalities.
Franche Comté is a ‘green’ region structured by the Vosges Massif and the Jura Mountain Range. Numerous lakes and ponds can be found and 44% of the territory is forest-covered. This is the only French region which has a continental climate i.e. dry and hot summers and cold winters with heavy snowfalls. Autumns are usually sunny and warm, springs are mild with showers.
Its economy is mainly based upon industry and it has four competitiveness poles. Situated at the heart of Europe, this region is turned outwards and its exports are constantly increasing. For a few years, the region has also put emphasis on tourism. It has selected 28 cities, the Petites Cités Comtoises de Caractère, typically representative of Franche Comté which allow you to plunge in its heritage.
Franche Comté is currently a good place for real estate bargains. Property prices have remained relatively constant over the last years and are low compared with the average prices in France (€1,683 /sq m against €3,197 / sq m). Prices are higher in big cities but really attractive in the countryside.
The highest prices are to be found in the Doubs department and the lowest in Haute-Saône. Prices in Territoire de Belfort have dropped since the beginning of the year but they now seem to stabilize. The other departments remain stable.
|Property prices in Franche Comte and its 4 departments in 2009|
|Location||Apartments € /sq m||New built apartments € /sq m||Houses €|
|Territoire de Belfort||1,380||2,300||177,400|
The greatest buy-to-let opportunities are in Besançon (capital of Doubs). As a student town, it has a constant demand of apartment rentals. If you wish to buy a property, then the countryside is probably the best choice.
To get updated info about property prices in Franche Comte, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Click here to have an overview of Franche Comte Property Prices.
Cultural & historical heritage: Franche Comte is made of cultural richness and offers a lot of cultural heritage sites to visit. Traces of its past are to be seen through its architecture, such as the Vauban fortifications or the Swallow Line. And last but not least, it is a land full of legends, the best known being probably the Wyvern. It is a half-woman, half-snake creature who punishes the unfortunate came to steal its magical escarboucle - a precious stone - when it takes it away to bath in the Loue River.
Natural environment: surrounded with nature, you can relax and appreciate the scenery without being disturbed. Franche Comte is almost half-covered with forests and has no less than 80 lakes. The Jura Mountains, the numerous waterfalls and the beautiful caves and chasms are places of interest not to pass by. The most impressive is the Saut du Doubs, a nationally ranked waterfall.
People & lifestyle: the Franc-Comtois are warm welcoming people always ready to make you discover their region. These generous people have succeeded in preserving an authentic way of life, far of the tumultuous megalopolis and full of traditions. One of their charming customs is to meet at the market early in the morning. There, merchants will invite you to taste their produce and guide you through the mish-mash of flavours.
Various activities: this region offers many nature-linked activities all year long. Its geography is particularly adapted for cycling, fishing, hiking, water and aerial sports; and of course skiing in winter. Numerous cruises are also offered along the numerous rivers. You can otherwise visit the numerous museums or try the Road of Wines, which allies the discovery of unique landscapes to the degustation of regional wines.
Gastronomy and wine: enjoy yummy cheeses like the cancoillotte (a runny cheese you can’t miss), Morbier or Comté which you can mix with a great choice of charcuterie, for instance the sausages of Morteau and the Luxueil ham. You can also savour a lot of desserts made of cherries. But don’t forget the wines, like the traditional Chardonnay, rosé d’Arbois or Champlitte. Allow yourself to be tempted by the absinthe and 2 special wines, the straw wine (syrupy) and the yellow wine, known as ‘gold of the Jura’.
Tuyé farmhouses: these massive houses are made of wood, apart from the stone-built ground floor. They used to shelter both humans and cattle in the large adjacent stables. The name Tuyé refers both to the huge wooden fireplace in the shape of a pyramid and to the room which in the past was used as a smokehouse.
Winegrower’s houses: this traditional house is usually made of wood and beams are exposed. A cellar is obviously part of it. Outside stairs allow access to the first floor (they are however inside the property in restored houses). In this region walls are usually yellow or orange, making these houses very welcoming.
Half-timbered houses: these charming properties date back to medieval times. The wooden framing - usually oak - is apparent and spaces between the timbers is usually filled with brick, stone or plaster. From the 14th century onwards these town dwellings have begun to be richly carved with Gothic or Renaissance ornamentations.
Front-gabled houses: the gable is almost always facing the street or the valley. The ground floor and sometimes the first floor are made of stone and the attic is constructed of wood. As often in Franche Comte, walls can be colour-painted. The windows are small to medium size but numerous, in order to allow the sun to come in.
Click here for more info about the Architecture in Franche Comté.
|Take a closer look at the Franche-Comté property market:|
|Doubs Property Insight|
|Jura Property Insight|
|Haute-Saône Property Insight|
|Territoire de Belfort Property Insight|