Arbois in Franche-Comté is the capital of the renowned Jura wines and is the perfect base for exploring the stunning natural environment of mountains, gorges, caves and waterfalls in the area.
Situated at the mouth of a ravine, the Reculée des Planches, Arbois lies in a valley overlooked by a cliff over 240m high, making it the highest reculée in the region. With wonderful flora and fauna, the reculée is a protected site with extensive underground caves, the Grottes des Planches, a huge network of caves with a beautiful subterranean river, lakes and waterfalls - it is a magical place to visit. Known for its wines, the area around Arbois also contains some of the oldest vineyards in France with Le Crémant wine, a sparkling white or rosé, the most famous wine produced here. Scientist Louis Pasteur grew up in nearby Dôle and had his laboratory in Arbois at the house which is now the Louis Pasteur Museum. You can visit his laboratory as well as the rest of the house. There is also an art museum, le Musée Sarret de Grozon, containing porcelain and silverware as well as paintings from the 17th and 19th century and some pastel portraits by Pasteur himself. At the Musée de la Vigne et du Vin in Château Pécauld you can explore the vineyard and cellars with exhibits explaining the history and traditions of winemaking.
Château Pécauld once belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy and formed part of the defenses of the city in the 13th century along with large round tower, Tour Velfraux, which is on the side of the building. Another 13th century tower resides in the town, the Tour Gloriette, which was designed in an 'open throat' style with no wall on the side nearest the city so that it would be easy to recover if taken by the enemy. Also of interest is the Eglise St Just, a medieval church whose bell tower dominates the town. It has a central nave dating back to the 12th century and its 18th century organ is a listed historical monument. With such fantastic scenery, it is no surprise that Arbois has many walking trails and cycling routes. There are several cycle circuits between 22km and 109km long of varying difficulty as well as lots of walking circuits to explore the area on foot. Visit waterfalls and caves, lakes and forests or tour the wine cellars and vineyards of the local winemakers. Try your hand at some water sports such as kayaking and canoeing, or relax with a quiet spot of fishing. There is always something new to try outside in the fresh air of the countryside around Arbois.
Full of boutiques, and artisans and antiques shops, Arbois also has many specialist food shops and a good weekly market. Franche-Comté is a region renowned for its cheeses including Comté, one of the most popular cheeses in France, Morbier, made of two layers of cheese separated by a thin layer of ash, Édel de Cléron, a soft cheese packaged in a box of aromatic pine bark from the Jura mountains and the unusual runny cheese, Cancoillotte. Pork is also popular with smoked sausages such as saucisse de Morteau and hams such as jambon de Luxeuil and jambon fumé de Hauts Dobe. A favourite local dish is coq au vin jaune (chicken in yellow wine) often served with morel mushrooms. Alongside the excellent wines of Le Crémant, there is vin jaune, a white wine with similarities to sherry but is not fortified and vin de paille, a sweet wine made from grapes which have been dried. There are also some wonderful local liqueurs to taste including le Macvin, which is aged for at least 18 months in oak barrels and can be enjoyed chilled as an aperitif or with dessert and kirsch de fougerelles, a liqueur made from distilled cherry juices.
Region: Franche Comté
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