After leaving the house sit in Saint Sulpice we decide to spend more time getting to know the Franche-Comte region. 

Chateau Montreaux

Located between the Voges in the north and the Jura mountains in the south it boasts stunning natural wooded areas, pretty villages, waterfalls, mountain lakes and rivers. 

Following the Doubs river, we stop off at some lovely places, sometimes staying a couple of days. Chateau Montreaux is the first village. Right next to the river with its tranquil green surroundings, and it’s pretty flower beds it makes a perfect stopover for boats and motorhomes. We spend the next two days here walking to the shops and cycling to nearby villages in between the bouts of rain. 

Cycle path runs along the river in Chateau Montreaux

Overnight it has dried up and the sun is shining, we set off for Belfort. It’s a town set on a plateau between the Mountains, with its citadel visible as we approach dominating the town, at every turn, it shows a different facet, unfortunately, due to restoration work, it’s closed today. So it’s a quick wander around the town stopping off to postcards home. 

Belfort

The aire at Belfort is just a large car park so we decide to drive to the one at Vaivre et Montoile. Parked up with quite a few other motorhomes we have views across the beautiful lake. As it’s a nice day we get the bikes off the back and cycle the 5km around the lake. 

Vaivre et Montoile

The gardens surrounding the lake are full of wildflowers and various species of birds, later that evening the Heron decides to parade up and down the car park keeping us entertained. 

Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t last once again the weather turns and the forecast isn’t looking good for this region in the next few days. The aire here is free so with stay and have a TV night but having exhausted our DVD collection, (there’s only so many times we can watch Micky Flanagan) we result to watching French TV. 

Home for tonight looking across the lake

With the sky clear and the sun out we move on to Baume-Les-Dames which is right next to the river. Apart from one restaurant, few boats and the odd person out walking it’s quiet here, well until the bread man arrives, honking his horn. 

Evening walk along the river at Baume-les-Dames

The following morning we drive to Besancon cradled in a loop of the river Doubs. Divided by the river the Northside is home to the modern town with its shops, hotels and railway station. On the South side is the old town with its attractive narrow streets, dominated by the citadel.

Besancon citadel

We park by the river at the foot of its towering citadel and walk along, following the steep uneven steps to the entrance, this certainly gets your heart pumping! Covering a huge area the views from the ramparts are amazing. In 1668 Louis Xlll appointed the military architect Vauban to design the Citadel and inside its like a maze of different buildings. 

Keeping an eye on the visitors

We spend a few hours here it’s an interesting place with 3 museums. During  the late 50s it was turned into a Zoo for endangered species. I’m not a fan of zoos but this one seems to be well looked after and the animals in good condition. Walking towards the moat we can hear the Gelada Baboons long before we see them.Not sure what Louis XIV would have made of them. 

We walk back down the road that’s just as steep as the steps to get a much needed coffee. 

Even though we are parked by the river and apparently the citerdal looks lovely lite up at night we aren’t sure about staying here so we move. 

Our view for tonight in Dole

Once we arrive at Dole we realise it was the right decision to move. It’s a small, elegant town with ancient cobbled streets and beautiful stone buildings. We walk along the Tanneurs canal where it’s a perfect place for a stroll. Its here we see the birth place of Louis Pasteur, the inventor of the rabies vaccine. Born in 1822, Pasteur’s birth place is now a museum which describes the life and scientific work of the famous scholar. Back at the aire there are no motorhome services  but lined up opposite the river watching the boats and world go by it’s a lovely evening.

Louis Pasteur birth place

If we weren’t in need of groceries and water we would of stayed longer. So after a stop off at Lidl we find the aire on the edge of Gray, it’s in a nice spot so we decide to spend the next couple of days here. Walking round the old streets there are very few people around. So the blaring sound of the air raid siren going off at mid day startles us. The following morning  the roads are quiet so we cycle to the neighbouring village of Rigny. This too is really quiet just three locals sitting on the bench outside the church having a natter. 

Leaving Gray the following day we find the main road is closed off, so it’s a detour through narrow country lanes, this sends Ditzy and John into a frenzy! 

Cycling again in Gray

We had planned to stay at Montheliard but we aren’t sure about the aire so we carry on. Passing through La Russey we spot a camel, Buffalo and ostrich laying by the side of the road. We soon realise the travelling circus has set up camp right next to the motorhome aire. Not wishing to have them as neighbors we keep going. It’s been a long day and seems  like we have been driving most it, so it’s good when  we find the aire at Villers le lac.

Not every day you see a Camel sitting by side of the road
Quiet night in Villers le Lac

It’s cold and wet with the mist from the mountains coming down, tonight’s view isn’t the most inspiring. Parked just below a bridge by the river with houses and shops behind us and just one other motorhome for company, it’s dinner and a early night. 

We would definitely like to see more of this region, we think this part of France is underrated but in need of a change in weather we are off somewhere else. 

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