Travels in Franche-Comté

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I’m in Besançon for the holidays, a city in the Franche-Comté region in the east of France, just west of the Swiss border. It’s best known for cheese, clock-making and the beautiful scenery.

It’s also known for the artist Gustave Courbet and his beautiful paintings of the region. Just southeast of Besançon is the spring that inspired his painting The Source of the Loue:

Last weekend we made our way through the tiny winding roads of the countryside to find the Source, passing tiny villages consisting of a single tiny church and less than 50 houses perched on hilltops or huddled in the middle of an otherwise empty plain, mountains always looming in the background.

Finally we arrived, and I found that the Source itself was not as large as I had imagined due to the enormous straight-drop  cliffs surrounding it; the large but enclosed space seemed like a lovely place to shut out the world, set up an easel, and make a masterpiece.

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After enjoying the hypnotic effect of the rushing water, we took to the road again as the sunset splashed an array of dazzling colors across the mountains, plains, and tiny villages:

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Then it was back home for a game of French Scrabble with a cup of cherry Christmas tea, a basket of dried fruit, homemade hot wine, and roasted chestnuts… a perfect, cozy evening in the calm, beautiful Franche-Compté countryside!

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