Explore museums and indulge in the arts
For those seeking relaxation or culture rather than sport, the area offers several museums, numerous religious and historical monuments, displays of arts and crafts, theaters, concerts and festivals.
There is also Vesoul with its old town of courtyards and hidden passages, the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Haut designed by Le Corbusier, at Ronchamp, the unique Plateau des Milles Etangs or the Saône river. For wine-lovers, there are the local vineyards of Champlitte and Charcenne and those of Alsace, Jura, Burgundy and Champagne are all within easy travelling distance.
Many towns and villages have weekly markets where you can find locally-produced specialties to take home with you. If you are looking for longer-lasting pleasures, every weekend from Easter until late Autumn you can scour brocantes held in the streets of villages and throughout the year, explore the premises of local antiques dealers and depots-ventes.
Châteaux & Lavoirs
Franche Comté in general, and Haute-Saône host numerous chateaux and fortified manor houses – Villersexel, Filain, Gy, Oricourt, Pesmes, Boult, Rupt sur Saône, Ray sur Saône, among many others. Several of them are open for public visits and serve as an ideal destination for a day-trip out in the countryside.
Almost every village of the Franche Comté has its lavoir or communal washing area where housewives used to wash their family’s clothes. Most villages also have a church belfry. These belfries mark the landscape and are often in the shape of a bell, covered with colored tiles and topped by a cockerel weather-vane. Steeplejacks used to carry the cockerel from house to house so that every inhabitant of the village can kiss it for good luck.
Museums & Glassblowing
The Château Champlitte houses one of several industrial and agricultural museums in the area, as well as the largest museum of popular art and traditions in France. Others include the museum of lace in Luxeuil, the mining museum in Ronchamp, which is also well-known for its chapel designed by Le Corbusier, and the mountain museum in Château-Lambert.
Founded in 1475, the glass-works at Passavant-la-Rochère (30 km from the Château) is the oldest operational glass-works in France and is one of the oldest in the world. Visitors can learn about the making of glass and crystal, see craftsmen using centuries’ old techniques and buy their works of art from the craft-shop.
Distilleries, Vineyards and River Cruises
The town of Fougerolle (30 km) is home to a museum—that of fruit distilling. For centuries, the town has been famous for its cherry liquor and other fruit-based alcoholic beverages. There are still more than 40,000 cherry trees in the area with several distilleries still operating and producing cherry liquor and many other specialties, including the famous Griottines de Fougerolles. The Franche Comté is also home to another well-known alcoholic beverage, absinthe. Having been outlawed for many decades, the original recipe has now been adapted so that modern generations can savor the drink with much less serious consequences.
Haute-Saône has its own little-known wine industry producing vins du pay, notably Champlitte and Charcenne. Further to the south of Franche Comté lies the Jura with its Arbois, Macvin and Côtes de Jura wines. A one hour drive to the north-east, the Alsace vineyards produce excellent Riesling, Sylvaner, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Tokay, Gerwürztraminer and many more. At a similar distance to the north-west, one enters the Champagne area and to the south-west lies Dijon, the doorway to Burgundy and Beaujolais.
Should you want a break of a few hours from museums, monuments, crafts or other, why not sit back and enjoy a view of the countryside while cruising along the river Saône? Half-day or full-day tours are available at Port-sur-Saône (12kms) or “self-drive” cruise-boats can be hired for several days or weeks.