Bordered by the Jura Mountains and Switzerland to the east, and Saône River to the west, Franche-Comté is a laid back, forested region conjuring up images of hillside vineyards and red-and-white Montbéliarde cattle, the two local hallmark industries that bestowed Franche-Comté its famed yellow wine and Comté cheese.
The name Franche-Comté originally referred to the Free County of Burgundy. The 'Franche' part was added in 1478 to distinguish it more easily from the neighbouring Duchy of Burgundy.
Like Alsace and Lorraine, the County of Burgundy was part of the Holy Roman Empire ever since its foundation in the 10th century. In 1481, Franche-Comté passes under Habsburgian rule - first Austrian, then Spanish (from 1556), like the Southern Netherlands. It was not incorporated into France until the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678), although enclaves like Montbéliard remained outside French control until the French Revolution.
Nowadays, Franche-Comté shares much of its architecture, cuisine, and culture with neighbouring Switzerland. Vauban's citadel in Besançon and the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans are both listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Famous people from Franche-Comté include (chronologically): the poet and novelist Victor Hugo, the painter Gustave Courbet, the leather goods designer Louis Vuitton, the chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, the inventors of cinema Auguste and Louis Lumière, and celebrity chef Raymond Blanc.
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