Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in Eastern France
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté or BFC is one of the 13 new regions created with the territorial reform that took effect on January 1, 2016.
It regroups the former Bourgogne and Franche-Comté regions.
The Duché de Bourgogne was incorporated to the royal domain in the late 15th century, and Comté two centuries later.
However, the two provinces formed two different territorial entities with their own capital cities until 2016.
The Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region encompasses 8 departments:
Côte d’Or (21 – Dijon), Doubs (25 – Besancon), Haute-Saône (70 – Vesoul), Jura (39 – Lons-le-Saunier), Nièvre (58 – Nevers), Saône-et-Loire (71 – Mâcon), Territoire de Belfort (90 – Belfort) and Yonne (89 – Auxerre)
Dijon (Bourgogne) is the administrative centre or préfecture, and Besançon (Franche-Comté) the seat of the regional council.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is the 6th largest French region.
It lies between the Grand-Est and Ile-de-France regions to the north, Centre to the west, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to the south and borders with Switzerland to the east.
It boasts three main mountain ranges.
The Vosges mountains spread to the the north-east; the highest peak is the Ballon d’Aslace with an altitude of 1,247m.
The Crêt Pela (1,495m) to the east is not only the highest peak of the Jura mountains, but also of the region.
The 3rd mountain range, the Morvan to the west, has more modest altitude with the Haut Folin which culminates at 901m.
Its altitude and inland location result in a continental weather with hot summers and cold and long winters, mild and sunny springs and autumns.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is a country of water.
The rivers Saône and the Doubs and an important network of river canals traverse it, and the river Seine takes its source on the Plateau de Langres, in the department of Côtes d’Or.
The countless lakes contribute to the beauty of the region. The Lac de Saint-Point is the 3rd natural lake in France, while the Lac de Vouglans is the 3rd man-made lake in France with 605 millions cubic metres.
It also boasts several nature reserve where flora and fauna are protected, as well as 3 regional nature parks in Morvan, Ballon des Vosges and Haut-Jura.
Coal mining was the main industry until the second half of the 20th century.
The economy is today geared towards the export of car-related products, steel industry, electrical equipment and production of beverages.
The region boasts prestigious industrial flagships such as Peugeot-Citroën Sochaux, the leading insdustrial site in France,the PSA pant in Vesoul which is part of the same group. The Peugeot family is indeed origially from Franche-Comté.
The other major industrial flagships include the Bel group which manufactures diary products (Babybel and Vache qui rit); the Alstom factories in Belfort; Areva Creusot-Forge, Industeel (ArcelorMittal), Thermodyn (General Electric), Snecma (Safran) in Le Creusot, and two Areva facturies in Chalon-sur-Saône to name a few.
Agriculture largely contributes to the economy with cattle farming for meat (Charolais breed) and milk that produces a wide range of AOC cheeses (such as Chaource, Comté, Morbier…); poultry (volaille de Bresse); forestry; cereal production and of course the superb vineyards of Bourgogne (with the prestigious Hospices de Beaune) but also of Jura!.
Tourism has been booming since the 2016 merger and attracts a large foreign clientele.
The region is indeed home to several monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites: Fontenay Abbey; Vézelay basilica; Notre-Dame-du-Haut chapel in Ronchamp; Besançon citadel; the Dukes of Bourgogne’s palace; the climates of the Bourgogne vineyards; the saltworks of Arc-et-Senans and Salins-les-Bains; the prehistoric sites of Clairvaux and Chalain lakes, and finally Notre-Dame priory of La-Charité-sur-Loire and the church of Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur d’Asquins, which both form parts of the Way of Saint-James.
Its geographical position and vibrant economy therefore turn Bourgogne-Franche-Comté into a major economical hub that links Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Ile-de-France, the Benelux and the Mediterranean.
The motorway A6, known as Autoroute du Soleil, traverses the region from north-west to south to link Paris to Lyon.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is served by two airports: Dijon-Burgundy and Dole-Jura.
Area: 47,784 km2
Population: 2,816,814 (2012)