Holidays in Eastern France
Matilda Betham-Edwards

Part 2 out of 3

silvery light--we had torrents of rain instead, being threatened with
what is a phenomenon of no rare occurrence here, namely, an inundation.
Situated on the confluence of two rivers, the Allaine and the Lusine,
Montbeliard is a quaint, and homely little Venice in miniature, sure to
be flooded once or twice a year, when people have to pay visits and
carry on their daily avocation in miniature gondolas.

It takes, however, more than minor misfortunes such as these to damp
French geniality and good nature, and when our soiree came to an end,
everyone returned home well fortified with umbrellas, cloaks, and
goloshes in the best possible humour. Sometimes these _veillees_ will be
devoted to declamation and story-telling, one or two of the party
reading aloud a play or poem, or reciting for the benefit of the rest.
In the bitter winter nights this sociable custom is not laid aside, even
ladies with their lanterns braving the snow in order to enjoy a little
society. Music is the chief out-of-door recreation during the summer
months, the military band of the garrison largely contributing to the
general amusement.

It is astonishing how French good-humour and light-heartedness help to
lighten the hardest lot! We find the hours of toil enormously long here,
and economies practised among the better classes of which few English
people have any conception. Yet life is made the best of, and everything
in the shape of a distraction is seized upon with avidity. Although
eminently a Protestant town, shops are open all day long on Sundays,
when more business seems to be done than at any other time. The shutters
are no sooner put up, however, than everyone goes out for a walk or a
visit, and gets as much enjoyment as he can.

Only the rich and exceeding well-to-do people keep servants, others
content themselves with a charwoman who comes in for two hours a day,
and is paid ten or twelve francs a month, many ladies, by birth and
education, living on small means, doing all the lighter household work,
marketing, &c., themselves, whilst the small shopkeeping class, who with
us must invariably have a wretched drudge, called a maid-of-all-work,
never dream of getting anyone to cook or clean for them. As a matter of
course, all this is done by the family, no matter how well educated may
be its members. We must always bear in mind that the general well-being
and easy circumstances of the French middle classes is greatly owing to
their freedom from shams. Toil is not regarded as a degradation, and the
hateful word "gentility" is not found in their vocabulary. Thus it comes
about that you find a mixture of homeliness, comfort, and solidity of
fortune, rarely the case in England. Take my landlady as an example, a
charming person, who keeps a straw-hat and umbrella shop, whose sister
is a _repasseuse_, or clear-starcher, and whose married brother has also
a hat-shop next door. These people do all the work that is to be done
themselves, yet in similar circumstances in England would be sure to
have maids-of-all-work, nursery-maids, and the rest of it. They have
plenty of good furniture, supplies of household and personal linen that
would set up a shop, and the children of the brother receive the best
possible education he can obtain for them. The elder girl has just
returned from Belfort with her first diploma, and is to be sent to
Germany to learn German. She has, nevertheless, acquired a knowledge of
what all women should know, can cook, clean, cut out and make clothes,
&c., and, when she becomes herself a wife and mother, will doubtless
exercise all these accomplishments in order to give her children as good
an education as she possesses herself. All the family have laid by ample

More might be said about the easy intercourse and geniality of this
little town, did space permit. I will pass on to add that though
extremely picturesque, with its flower-gardens running down to the
water's edge, tiny bridges, hanging roofs, curling rivers, and lastly
circling green hills and superb old chateau crowning all, there is
little here to detain the tourist. The case is very different with those
travellers who are bent upon studying French life under its various
aspects, for they will find at Montbeliard a wholly new phase. Much in
domestic life reminds us of South Germany, yet no place is more
eminently French. The type of physiognomy is frank and animated, fair,
and even red hair is common, whilst the stature is above the average,
and the general physique gives an idea of strength, character, and
health. The Montbeliardins are courteous, but proud and prone rather to
bestow than accept favours. Amiability and real goodness of heart
especially characterize them.

As a seat of some special manufactures, musical-boxes and clocks being
among the chief, it possesses importance; there are also cotton mills,
tanneries, foundries, &c. The fabrication of clocks by machinery is a
curious process, the precision and apparent intelligence of the machines
being as agreeable to contemplate as the reverse is humiliating: namely,
the spectacle of men, women, and children being converted into
automatons by unremitting mechanical labour. The length of the day's
work here is prodigious, consisting of twelve sometimes fourteen hours,
and the occupation extremely unwholesome, owing to the smell of the oil
and the perpetual noise of machinery. The pay is low, beginning at three
francs and reaching to four or four and a half a day. We may blame the
artizan class for improvidence, insobriety, and many other failings, but
none who calmly compare the life of a clock-maker, for instance,
condemned to spend twelve hours of the twenty-four in this laborious,
unwholesome, and ill-remunerated labour, with that of the better
classes, can wonder at his discontent. If he seeks to better his
position by means of strikes, socialistic schemes, or other violent
means, at least we must grant that it is only natural, till some other
should offer themselves.

It is to be hoped that the hours of labour will soon be shortened in a
part of France so advanced in other respects, and meantime artizans here
are better off than elsewhere. All round the town you find so-called
_cites ouvrieres_, built on the model of those of Mulhouse; little
streets of cheerful cottages, each with its bit of flower and
vegetable-garden, where at least the workman has something to call a
home after his day's labour. These artizan quarters are well or
ill-kept, of course, according to the thrift or slovenliness of the
tenants; some are charming, but at their worst they are a vast
improvement upon the close, ill-ventilated quarters to be found in
towns. They are also much cheaper, about L5 a year being charged for
both house and garden, whereas, even in a little town like Montbeliard,
accommodation is dear and difficult to be had. In fact, without these
villages the question of house-room would be as much of a problem here
for the workman as among our own rural population; no doubt the heads of
firms who have built cheerful and ornamental little rows of English-like
cottages for their workpeople were actuated at the same time chiefly by
philanthropic motives, but they found it absolutely necessary to take
some steps in the matter.

Various efforts are being made to raise the status of the mechanic by
means of lectures, reading-rooms, and recreation, but, whilst the hours
of labour remain what we find them, little good can be effected. A
devoted lady, who has spent her whole life in her native town, has done
much for the female part of the manufacturing population by means of
free night-schools, free library, chiefly for the young, Sunday
afternoon classes for the teaching of cutting-out and needle-work, and
recreation combined, gratuitous laundries, and other philanthropic
schemes. These efforts of Mademoiselle Rosalie Morel, a lay-woman, have
been seconded by those of a Protestant deaconess in another direction,
the latter devoting herself to nursing and the teaching of hygiene and
sanitary science. In the matter of cleanliness, therefore, these good
people are not left in the dark as in benighted Brittany, where dirt is
not preached against as it ought to be in the pulpit. Mademoiselle
Morel's free laundries, in other words a scheme set on foot for the
purpose of teaching the poorest classes what clean linen should be, have
doubtless effected much good, and on the whole cleanliness is the rule
here, and the public hot and cold baths much frequented by all.

In spite, however, of the animation and _bonhomie_ of this little town,
there is a dark side to social life, and in the train of intemperance
and unthrift among the manufacturing population, we find squalor and
immorality. After several weeks' sojourn in that Utopia of all
socialistic dreamers--a land without a beggar!--I found myself here,
once more, in the domains of mendicity, though it is not to be found to
any great extent. The custom of putting out infants to nurse is,
fortunately, unfrequent in these parts, and, as a natural consequence,
infant mortality is not above the average. The _cites ouvrieres_ are to
be thanked for this, and the nearness of the home to the factory enables
the baby to be brought to its mother for nourishment, and in our visit
to the clock manufactory before spoken of, we saw mothers nursing their
infants on the spot. Nearer Paris, you constantly encounter infants
three day's old being dispatched with their foster-mother into some
country place, there to be brought up by hand, in other words, to die;
but here it is not so. We find on a small scale at Montbeliard that
contrast between wealth and poverty seen in England, but wholly absent
from the rural districts of France. The aristocracy of the place here is
composed of the wealthy manufacturing class, and by little and little
Parisian luxuries are finding their way into this remote region. Until
within quite recent date, for instance, there was no such thing as a
stand for hackney carriages here; now it has become the fashion to take
drives in fine weather. In our walks and drives in the neighbourhood, we
encounter handsome waggonettes and open carriages with a pair of horses,
rarely seen in the purely agricultural districts.

In every way, habits of life have become modified by the rapid rise of a
commercial aristocracy; and, as a natural consequence, we find much more
social distinction than in those parts of France where no such class
exists. Yet a stranger, who should study French manners and customs for
the first time, would find the principle of equality existing in a
degree unknown in England. Can anything be more absurd than the
differences of rank that divide the population of our provincial towns?
The same thing is seen in the country, where the clergyman holds aloof
from the village doctor, the farmer from the shopkeeper, both these from
the village schoolmaster, and where, indeed, everybody thinks himself
better than his neighbour.

We have, in English provincial towns, schools for the professional
classes, schools for the children of farmers, of wholesale shopkeepers,
of small retail tradesmen; lastly, schools for the "people," and you no
more expect to find a rich man's child attending the latter than a
chimney-sweep's son at the Grammar School. In French country towns all
this is simplified by the Ecole Communale, at which boys and girls
respectively, no matter what their parents' calling or means, receive
precisely the same education; after the Ecole Communale, comes the
College, where a liberal education is afforded to boys, and pupils study
for the examination of _Bachelier-es-Lettres et Sciences_, but are not
prepared as at the Lycees for the "Doctorate-in-Law." There is no other
school here for primary instruction of both sexes but the Communal
School, Protestant and Catholic, whither all the children, rich and
poor, patrician and proletaire, go as a matter of course. The politeness
of the French working-classes may be partly accounted for in the
association of all ranks in early life. Convent, or other schools, for
young ladies, do not exist at Montbeliard, and those who study for the
first and second diploma are generally prepared at Belfort and Besancon,
where the examinations are held.

There is also here an Ecole Normale, training school for teachers; also
a Protestant training school, noted for its excellence. On the whole,
for a town of eight thousand inhabitants, Montbeliard must be considered
rich in educational and intellectual resources.

Much of the farming in these parts is tenant-farming on a fair scale,
i.e., fifty to two or three hundred acres. In the case of small peasant
properties, which, of course, exist also, the land is usually not
divided on the death of the father, the eldest son purchasing the shares
of his brothers and sisters. More on the subject of agriculture will be
said further on, there being nothing particularly striking about the two
tenant-farms I visited with friends in the immediate proximity of the
town. The first, though not a model farm, is considered a good specimen
of farming on a large scale, the size being two hundred and fifty acres,
hired at a rental of fifty francs per hectare, or about a pound per
acre. The premises are large and handsome, and cleanly, according to a
French agricultural standard, and, as usual, with a large heap of manure
drying up in the sun. Here we found thirty-five splendid Normandy and
other cows, entirely kept for milking, the milk being all sent to
Montbeliard, with a small number of bullocks, horses and pigs. The land
looks poor, and gives no evidence of scientific farming, though very few
improvements are made, new agricultural methods and implements
introduced, and thus the resources of the land developed. The farmer's
wife and daughters were all hard at work, and the farmer busy with his
men in the fields. Close to the farm-house, which we found spacious and
comfortable, is the handsome villa of the owner, who has thus an
opportunity of seeing for himself how things go. If tenant-farming does
not pay in England, it certainly can only do so in France by means of a
laboriousness and economy of which we have hardly an idea. Work, indeed,
means one thing with us, and quite another with our French neighbour.

It is on market-day that the country folks and their wares are to be
seen to the best advantage; and housekeepers supply themselves with
butter, fruit, vegetables and haberdashery, all being very cheap;
peaches sixpence a pound, melons two or three sous each, and so on in
proportion. One fruit may puzzle strangers, it is the red berry of the
cultivated service berry tree, and makes excellent preserve. In spite,
however, of the low prices of garden and orchard produce, everyone
complains that the cost of living has greatly risen even here since the
war, and that many provisions are as dear as in Paris. Yet, as far as I
can judge, Montbeliard is still a place in which, if you cannot live on
nothing a year, you can live on next to nothing, and not uncomfortably

And now, before turning "to fresh fields and pastures new," a word must
be said about the illustrious name that will ever be linked with
Montbeliard. Many a hasty traveller alights at the railway station for
the purpose of seeing the noble monument of David d'Angers, and the
antiquated humble dwelling bearing the proud inscription:

"Ici naquit George Cuvier."

The bronze statue of the great anatomist stands out in bold relief
before the Hotel-de-Ville, the profile being turned towards the house in
which he first saw the light, the full face fronting the large
Protestant Church built in 1602, a century and a half before his birth.
The proximity is a happy one, for was it not by virtue of Protestantism,
no matter how imperfectly manifested, that Cuvier was enabled to pursue
his inquiries with such magnificent results? Two centuries before, he
might, like Galileo, have had to choose between martyrdom or scientific
apostasy. The great Montbeliardais--whose brain weighed more than that
of any human being ever known--is represented with a pen in one hand, a
scroll in the other, on which is drawn the anatomy of the human frame.
He wears the long, full frock coat of the period, its ample folds having
the effect of drapery. David d'Angers has achieved no nobler work than
this statue.

The College of Montbeliard, called after its greatest citizen, was
founded a few years ago, and is one of the first objects seen on
quitting the railway station of the Rue Cuvier.

English tourists do not often turn aside from the Swiss route to visit
the quieter beauties of the Department of the Doubs, and residents here
regret the absence of travellers, which, of course, tells upon the
hotels. No one has a word to say in favour of anything we are likely to
meet with on our journey throughout the length or breadth of Franche
Comte. When it is as much of a recreation ground with us as Switzerland,
doubtless everything will change, but nothing daunted we pursue our
journey. The only way to see this country to perfection is to hire a
carriage for the day, and retain it as long as you please. The railway
does not penetrate into the most picturesque regions, and the diligence
is slow and inconvenient. Accordingly, having had an itinerary written
out for us by friends who had gone over every inch of the ground, mostly
on foot, I set off with an enterprising lady, a native of these parts,
for a few days' drive in the most romantic scenery of the Doubs,
southward of Montbeliard, and in the direction of Switzerland. So well
is the road marked out for us that we want neither "Joanne" nor
"Murray," and we have, moreover, procured the services of a coachman who
has been familiarized with the country by thirty years' experience. Thus
far, therefore, we have nothing to desire but fine weather, which has
been very rare since my arrival; tempests, showers, and downpours being
the order of the day. However, choosing one morning of unusual promise,
we start off at seven o'clock, prepared for the best or the worst; a
description of the superb pine-forests and romantic valleys of the Doubs
being reserved for the next chapter.



I never understood, till I travelled with French friends, why hotels in
France should be so bad, but the reason is to be sought in that
amiability, _laisser faire_, call it by what name we will, that
characteristic which distinguishes our neighbours on the other side of
La Manche. We English, who perpetually travel, growl and grumble at
discomfort till, by force of persistent fault-finding, we bring about
reformation in hotels and travelling conveniences generally--whereas the
French, partly from a dislike of making themselves disagreeable, partly
from the feeling that they are not likely to go over the same ground
again, leave things as they find them, to the great disadvantage of
those who follow. The French, indeed, travel so little for mere pleasure
that, whenever they do so, they think it useless to make a fuss about
what seems to them a part and parcel of the journey. Thus it happens
that, wherever you go off the beaten tracks in France, you find the
hotels as bad as they can well be, and your French fellow-traveller
takes the dirt, noise, and discomfort generally much as a matter of
course. I am sorry that I can say little for the hotels we found
throughout our four days' drive in the most romantic scenery of the
Doubs, for the people are so amiable, obliging, and more titan moderate
in their charges, that one feels inclined to forgive anything. Truth
must be told, however, and so, for once, I will only add that the
tourist must here be prepared for the worst in the matter of
accommodation, whilst too much praise cannot be accorded to the general
desire to please, and absolute incapacity of these good people to impose
on the stranger.

It must also be explained that as the mere tourist is a rare phenomenon
in these remote parts, the hotels are not arranged in order to meet his
wants, but those of the _commis-voyageur_, or commercial traveller, who
is the chief and best customer of innkeepers all over the country. You
meet no one else at the table-d'hote but the _commis-voyageurs_, and it
must not be supposed that they are in any way objectionable company.
They quietly sit out the various courses, then retire to the
billiard-room, and they are particularly polite to ladies. Throughout
the journey we were on the borders of Switzerland, the thinnest possible
partition dividing the land of cleanliness, order, and first-rate
accommodation from that of dirt, noise, and discomfort; yet so rigid is
the demarcation that no sooner do you put foot on Swiss ground than you
find the difference. Quite naturally, English travellers keep on the
other side of the border, and only a stray one now and then crosses it.

Our little caleche and horse left much to desire, but the good qualities
of our driver made up for everything. He was a fine old man, with a face
worthy of a Roman Emperor, and, having driven all over the country for
thirty years, knew it well, and found friends everywhere. Although
wearing a blue cotton blouse, he was in the best sense of the word a
gentleman, and we were somewhat astonished to find him seated opposite
to us at our first _table-d'hote_ breakfast. We soon saw that he well
deserved the respect shown him; quiet, polite, dignified, he was the
last person in the world to abuse his privileges, never dreaming of
familiarity. The extreme politeness shown towards the working classes
here by all in a superior social station doubtless accounts for the good
manners we find among them. My fellow-traveller, the widow of a French
officer, never dreamed of accosting our good Eugene without the
preliminary Monsieur, and did not feel herself at all aggrieved at
having him for her _vis-a-vis_ at meals. Eugene, like the greater part
of his fellow-countrymen, is proud and economical, and, in order not to
become dependent upon his children, or charity, in his old age, had
already with his savings bought a house and garden. It is impossible to
give any idea of the thrift and laboriousness of the better order of
working classes here.

Soon after quitting Montbeliard we began to ascend, and for the rest of
the day were climbing, gradually exchanging the region of corn-fields
and vineyards for that of the pine. From Montbeliard to St. Hippolyte is
a superb drive of about five hours, amid wild gorges, grandiose rocks
that have here taken every imaginable form--rampart, citadel, fortress,
tower, all trellised and tasselled with the brightest green; and narrow
mountains, valleys, here called "combes"--delicious little emerald
islands shut in by towering heights on every side. The mingled wildness
and beauty of the scenery reach their culminating point at St.
Hippolyte, a pretty little town with picturesque church, superbly
situated at the foot of three mountain gorges and the confluence of the
Doubs with the Dessoubre, the latter river here turning off in the
direction of Fuans. Here we halt for breakfast, and in two hours' time
are again ascending, looking down from a tremendous height at the town,
incomparably situated in the very heart of these solitary passes and
ravines. Our road is a wonderful bit of achievement, curling as it does
around what below appear unapproachable precipices, and from the
beginning of our journey to the end, we never ceased admiring it. This
famous road was constructed with many others in Louis Philippe's time,
and must have done great things for the progress of the country.
Excepting an isolated little chateau here and there, and an occasional
diligence and band of cantonniers, all is solitary, and the solitariness
and grandeur increase as we leave the region of rocks and ravines to
enter that of the pine--still getting higher and higher. From St.
Hippolyte to our next halting place, Maiche, the road only quits one
pine-forest to enter another, our way now being perfectly solitary, no
herdsman's hut in sight, no sound of bird or animal, nothing to break
the silence. Some of these trees are of great height--their sombre
foliage at this season of the year being relieved by an abundance of
light brown cones, which give them the appearance of gigantic Christmas
trees hung with golden gifts. Glorious as is the scenery we had lately
passed, hoary rocks clothed with richest green, verdant slopes, valleys,
and mountain sides all glowing in the sunshine--the majestic gloom and
isolation of the pine-forests appeal more to the imagination, and fill
the mind with deeper delight. Next to the sea, the pine-forest, to my
thinking, is the sublimest of nature's handiworks. Nothing can lessen,
nothing can enlarge such grandeur as we have here. Sea and pine-forest
are the same, alike in thunder-cloud or under a serene sky--summer and
winter, lightning and rain--we can hardly add by a hairbreadth to the
profundity of the impression they produce.

Maiche might conveniently be made a summer resort, and I can fancy
nothing healthier and pleasanter than such a sojourn around these
fragrant pines. The hotel, too, from what we saw of it, pleased us
greatly, and the landlady, like most of the people we have to do with in
these parts, was all kindness, obligingness, and good-nature. In large
cities and cosmopolitan hotels, a traveller is Number one, two, or
three, as the case may be and nothing more. Here, host and hostess
interest themselves in all their visitors, and regard them as human
beings. The charges moreover are so trifling that, in undertaking a
journey of this kind, hotel expenses need hardly count at all--the real
cost is the carriage.

From Maiche to Le Russey, our halting place for the night, is a distance
of three hours only, during which we are still in the pine-woods. Le
Russey possesses no attractions, except a quaint and highly artistic
monument to the memory of one of her children, a certain Jesuit
missionary, whose imposing statue, cross in hand, is conspicuously
placed above the public fountain. We cannot have too many of these local
monuments, unfortunately rarer in England than in France. They lend
character to provincial towns, and keep up a spirit of patriotism and
emulation among the people. The little town of Le Russey should, if
possible, be halted at for an hour or two only, the hotels are dirty and
uncomfortable; we fared worse there than I ever remember to have fared
in France--which is saying a good deal!

Next morning we were off at eight o'clock; our road, now level for the
most part, leading us through very different scenery from that of the
day before, monotonous open country, mostly pasturage, with lines of
pine and fir against the horizon--in many places were rocky wastes,
hardly affording scant herbage for the cattle. Much of this scenery
reminded me of the Fell district or North Wales, but by degrees we
entered upon a far more interesting region. We were now close to
Switzerland, and the landscape already wore a Swiss look. There is
nothing prettier in a quiet way than this Swiss borderland, reached
after a long stretch of dreary country; here we have grace without
severity, beauty without gloom, pastoral hills and dales alive with the
tinkling of cattle-bells, and pleasingly diversified with villages
scattered here and there; a church spire rising above the broad-roofed,
white-washed chalets on every side, undulating green pastures, in some
places shut in by pine-clad ridges, in others by smiling green hills. We
see patches of corn still too green to cut, also bits of beet-root,
maize, hemp, and potatoes; the chief produce of these parts is of course
that of the dairy, the "Beurre de Montagne," being famous in these
parts. Throughout our journey we have never lost sight of the
service-berry tree; the road from Maiche to Morteau is indeed planted
with them, and nothing can be handsomer than the clusters of bright red,
coral-like berries we have on every side. The hedges show also the
crimson-tasselled fruit of the barberry, no less ornamental than the
service-berry tree. It is evident the greatest possible care is taken of
these wayside plantations, and in a few years' time the road will
present the appearance of a boulevard. At La Chenalotte, a hamlet half
way between Le Russey and Morteau, enterprising pedestrians, may alight
and take a two hours' walk by a mountain path to the Falls of the Doubs;
but as the roads were very bad on account of the late heavy rains, we
prefer to drive on to the little hamlet of Les Pargots, beyond Morteau,
and from thence reach the falls by means of a boat, traversing the lake
of Les Brenets and the basin of the Doubs. The little Swiss village of
Les Brenets is coquettishly perched on a green hill commanding the lake,
and we are now indeed on Swiss ground, being within a few miles only of
Chaux de Fonds, and a short railway journey of Neufchatel and

We trust ourselves to the care of an experienced boatwoman, and are soon
in a fairy-like scene, a long sheet of limpid water surrounded by
verdant ridges, amid which peep chalets here and there, and velvety
pastures slope down to the water's edge; all is here tenderness,
loveliness, and peace. As we glide from the lake to the basins, the
scenery takes a severer character, and there is sublimity in these
gigantic walls of rock rising sheer from the silvery lakelike sheets of
water, each successive one seeming to us more beautiful and romantic
than the last. Perfect solitude reigns here, for so precipitous and
steep are these fortress-like rocks that there is no "coigne of
vantage," even for the mountain goat, not the tiniest path from summit
to base, no single break in the shelving masses, some of which take the
weirdest forms. Seen as we first saw them with a brilliant blue sky
overhead, no shadow on the gold green verdure, these exquisite little
lakes--twin pearls on a string--afford the daintiest, most delightful
spectacle; but a leaden sky and a driving wind turn this scene of
enchantment into gloom and monotony, as we find on our way back.

The serene beauty of the lake, and the imposing aspect of these
rock-shut basins give an ascending scale of beauty, and the climax is
reached when, having glided in and out from the first to the last, we
alight, climb a mountain path, and behold far below at our feet, amid a
deafening roar, the majestic Falls of the Doubs.

Such things are indescribable; but to come from the sublime to the
ludicrous, I would advise future travellers not to follow our example in
respect of a woman-boatman. The good woman, who acted as guide to the
Falls could not hold her tongue for a single moment, and her loud
inharmonious tittle-tattle put us in ill-humour for the rest of the day.
When you make a long journey to see such a phenomenon as this, you
should see it alone, or, at least, in perfect quiet. We had come
opportunely for the Falls, however, the enormous quantity of rain that
had fallen within the last few weeks having greatly augmented their
volume. It was as if no river, but a sea were leaping from its prison
here, rejoiced to leave its rocky home and follow its own wild way. The
profound impression created by such a scene as this, to my thinking,
lies chiefly in the striking contrast we have here before us--a vast
eddy of snow-white foam, the very personification of impetuous movement,
also of lightness, sparkling whiteness, with a background of pitchy
black rock, still, immoveable, changeless, as the heavens above.

As we stood thus lost, peering down at the silvery whirlpools and its
sombre environment, we were bedewed with a light mist, spray sent upward
by the frothing waters. Our terrible female Cerberus gabbled on, and so
to be rid of her we descended. There is a Restaurant on the French, also
on the Swiss side of the basin we had just crossed, and we chose the
latter, not with particular success. Very little we got either to eat or
drink, and a very long while we had to wait for it, but at last we had
dined, and again embarked to cross the basin and lake. In the meantime
the weather had entirely changed, and, instead of a glowing blue sky and
bright sun, we had hovering clouds and high winds, making our
boatwoman's task difficult in the extreme. However she continued to
clear one little promontory after another, and, when once out of the
closely confined basins on to the more open lake, all was as easy as

We found the Hotel Gimbard at Morteau a vast improvement upon that of Le
Russey, and woke up refreshed next morning after having well supped and
well slept, to find, alas! thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain the
order of the day. The programme had been to turn off at Morteau in the
direction of Fuans and the picturesque banks of the Dessoubre, reaching
St. Hippolyte at night, but with great reluctance we were now obliged to
give up this round. From Morteau to St. Hippolyte is a day's journey,
only to be made by starting at eight in the morning, and there are not
even decent wayside inns. So we patiently waited till the storm was
over, and as by that time it was past midday, there was nothing to do
but drive leisurely back to Maiche. More fortunate travellers than
ourselves, in the matter of weather, however, are particularly
recommended the other route. Maiche is a good specimen of the large,
flourishing villages, or _bourgs_, found in these parts, and a greater
contrast with those of Brittany cannot be conceived. There you find no
upper or middle-class element, no progress, little communication with
the outer world; some of the towns even, St. Pol de Leon, for instance,
being literally asleep. Here all is life, bustle, and animation, and,
though we are now amid a Catholic community, order and comparative
cleanliness prevail. Some of the cottage gardens are quite charming, and
handsome modern homes in large numbers denote the existence of rich
_bourgeois_ families, as is also the case in the villages near
Montbeliard. The commune of Maiche has large revenues, especially in
forest lands, and we can thus account for the really magnificent _cure_,
or _presbytere_, the residence of the cure, also the imposing
Hotel-de-Ville, and new costly decoration of the church. There is
evidently money for everything, and the cure of Maiche must be a happy
person, contrasting his position favorably with that of his fellow-cures
in the Protestant villages around Montbeliard. The down-hill drive from
our airy eminence amid the pine-forests was even more striking than our
ascent two days before; and we naturally got over the ground in less
than half the time. It is a pity such delightful scenery as this should
not be made more accessible to travellers by a first rate inn. There are
several hotels at Maiche, also at St. Hippolyte and Pont de Roide, but
they are adapted rather to the wants of the _commis-voyageur_ than the
tourist. Yet there is a friendliness, a bonhomie, and disinterestedness
about the hotel-keepers, which would soon disappear were Franche Comte
turned into a little Switzerland. At the table-d'hote dinner, the master
of the house always presides and looks after the guests, waiters there
are none; sometimes the plates are changed by the landlady, who also
superintends the kitchen, sometimes by the landlord, sometimes by a
guest, and shortcomings are always made up for by general geniality.
Everyone knows everyone, and the dinner is a meeting of old friends.

All this will soon be changed with the new line of railway to lead from
Besancon by way of St. Hippolyte and Morteau into Switzerland, and
future travellers will be able to see this beautiful country with very
little fatigue. As yet Franche Comte is an unknown region, and the sight
of an English tourist is of rare occurrence. When we leave Pont de
Roide, we once more enter the region of Protestantism, every village
possessing a Protestant as well as a Catholic Church. The drive to
Blamont is charming--a bit of Devonshire, with green lanes, dells, and
glades, curling streams and smooth pastures. Blamont itself is
romantically situated, crossing a verdant mountain side, its twin spires
(Protestant and Catholic) rising conspicuously above the scattered
villages; beyond these, the low mountain range of Blamont.

We have been all this time, be it remembered, geographically speaking in
the Jura, though departmentally in the Doubs, the succession of rocks
and mountains passed through forming part of the Jura range which
vanishes in the green slopes of Blamont.

The next village, Glaye, is hardly less picturesque, and indeed all this
neighbourhood would afford charming excursions for the pedestrian. The
rest of our drive lay through an open, fairly-cultivated plain with
little manufacturing colonies, thickly scattered among the rural
population. In many cases the tall black chimneys spoil the pastoralness
of the scene.

It was with extreme regret I took farewell of the friendly little
Protestant town of Montbeliard, soon after this journey. I had entered
it a few weeks before, a stranger, I quitted it amid the good wishes,
hand-clasps, and affectionate farewells of a dozen kind friends. Two
hours' railway journey, through a beautiful country, brought me to
Besancon, where, as at Montbeliard, I received the warmest welcome, and
felt at home at once.



The hotels at Besancon have the reputation of being the worst in all
France, but my kind friends would not let me try them. I found myself,
therefore, all at once in the midst of all kinds of home comforts,
domesticities, and distractions, with delightful cicerones in host and
hostess, and charming little companions in their two children. This is
the poetry of travel; thus to journey from one place to another,
provided with introductory letters which open hearts and doors at every
stage, and make each one the inauguration of a new friendship. I wish I
could subjoin an illustration of "How I travelled through
Franche-Comte," for my exploration of these regions was a succession of
pic-nics--host, hostess, their English guest, Swiss nurse-maid, and two
little fair-haired boys, being cosily packed in an open carriage; on the
seat beside the driver, a huge basket, suggesting creature comforts, the
neck of a wine bottle, and the spout of a tea-pot being conspicuous
above the other contents. This is indeed the way I saw the beautiful
valley of the Doubs, and not only the country round about Besancon, but
the border-land of Switzerland and Savoy. The weather--we are in the
first days of September--is perfect. The children, aged respectively
eighteen months and three years and odd, are the best little travellers
in the world, always going to sleep when convenient to their elders, and
at other times quietly enjoying the shifting landscape; in fact, there
is nothing to mar our enjoyment of regions as lovely as any it has ever
been my good fortune to witness.

In consequence of the bad character of the Besancon hotels, even French
tourists seldom break their journey here; but, on the opening of the new
railway line into Switzerland, joining Besancon, Ornans, and Morteau,
new and better hotels are sure to spring up. At present, wherever we go,
we never, by any chance, meet the ubiquitous English traveller with his
Murray, and my friends here say that, during a several years' residence
in Besancon, they have never even yet seen such an apparition! Yet
Franche-Comte, at present a _terra incognita_ of tourists, abounds in
all kinds of beauty; the sublime, the gracious, the grandiose, and the
pastoral, rock, vast panoramas, mountain and valley, all are here; and
all as free from the trace of the English and American tourist as the
garden of Eden before Eve's trespass!

Besides these quieter beauties are some rare natural phenomena, such as
the _Glaciere de la Grace Dieu_, near Baume-les-Dames, and the famous
Osselle grottoes, both of which may be reached by railway. We preferred,
however, the open carriages the basket and the tea-pot, and accordingly
set off for the latter one superb morning in the highest spirits, which
nothing occurred to mar. Quitting this splendid environment of Besancon,
we drive for three hours amid the lovely valley of the Doubs, delighted
at every bend of the road with some new feature in the landscape; then
choosing a sheltered slope, unpacked our basket, lunched _al fresco_,
with the merriest spirits, and the heartiest appetite. Never surely did
the renowned Besancon _pates_ taste better, never did the wine of its
warm hill-sides prove of a pleasanter flavour! The children sported on
the turf like little Loves, the air was sweet with the perfume of
new-made hay. The birds sang overhead, and beyond our immediate pavilion
of greenery, lay the curling blue river and smiling green hills. Leaving
the children to sleep under the trees, and the horse to feed at a
neighbouring mill--there is no kind of wayside inn here, so we have to
beg a little hay from the miller or a farmer--we follow a little lad,
provided with matches and candles to the entrance of the famous
grottoes. Outside the sugar-loaf hill, so marvellously channelled and
cased with stalactite formation, has nothing remarkable--it is a mere
green height, and nothing more. Inside, however, as strange a spectacle
meets our eyes as it is possible to conceive. To see these caves in
detail, you must spend an hour or two in the bowels of the earth, but we
were contented with half that time, for this underground promenade is a
very chilly one, as in some places we were ankle deep in water. Each
provided with a candle, we now follow our youthful guide, who was
accompanied by a dog, as familiar as himself with the windings of these
sombre subterranean palaces, for palaces they might be called. Sometimes
the stalactite roofs are lofty, sometimes we have to bend our heads in
order to pass from one vaulted chamber to another; here we have a superb
column supporting an arch; here a pillar in course of formation,
everywhere the strangest, most fantastic architecture, an architecture
moreover that is the work of ages; one petrifying drop after another
doing its apportioned work, column, arch, and roof being formed by a
process so slow that the life-time of a human being hardly counts in the
calculation. There is something sublime in the contemplation of this
steady persistence of Nature, this undeviating march to a goal; and as
we gaze upon the embryo stages of the petrifaction, stalagmite patiently
lifting itself upward, stalactite as patiently bending down to the
remote but inevitable union, we might almost fancy them sentient agents
in the marvellous transformation. The stamens of a passion-flower do not
more eagerly, as it seems, coil upwards to embrace the pistil; the
beautiful stamina flower of the _Vallisneria spiralis_ does not more
determinately seek its mate than these crystal pendants covet union with
their fellows below. Their perpetual bridals are accomplished after
countless cycles of time, whilst meantime in the sunlit world outside,
the faces of whole continents are being changed, and entire
civilizations are formed and overthrown.

The feeble light projected by our four candles in these gloomy yet
majestic chambers was not so feeble as to obscure the insignificant
names of hundreds of individuals scrawled here and there. The great
German philosopher Schopenhauer is at pains philosophically to explain
the foolish propensity of travellers to perpetuate their names, or as it
so seems to them. The Pyramids or Kentucky Caves do not impress their
minds at all, but to see their own illustrious names John Brown and Tom
Smith cut upon them, does seem a very interesting and important fact.
The bones of the Cave bear and other gigantic animals have been formed
here; but the principal tenants of these antique vaults are now the
bats, forming huge black clusters in the roof. There is something eerie
in their cries, but they are more alarmed than alarming; the lights
disturbing them not a little.

Pleasant after even this short adventure into the regions of the
nether-world, was the return to sunshine, green trees, the children, and
the tea-pot! After calling it into requisition, we set off homewards,
reaching Besancon just as the moon made its appearance, a large silver
disc above the purple hills; and the next day, good luck still following
us, we had a drive and pic-nic in the opposite direction, this time with
a less ambitious programme. In fact, we were merely accepting a
neighbour's invitation to a friendly dinner out of doors, a few miles
from Besancon. This pic-nic is a fair sample of Franche-Comte
hospitality; not only friends were invited but their guests, babies,
servants, and "all that was in their house," the various parties being
collected by the host in a waggonette. It was Sunday, and though I am
here still in a strictly Protestant atmosphere, host and guests being
Protestants, it was pleasant to find none of the Puritanism
characterizing some sections of the Reformed Church in France. The
Protestant pastor, indeed, to whose eloquent discourse I had listened
that morning, was of the party; and it is quite a matter of course here
to spend Sunday afternoons thus sociably and healthfully. The
meeting-place was a rustic spot much resorted to by Bisontins on
holidays, and easily reached from the little station of Roche on the
railway line to Belfort. A winding path through a wood leads to the
so-called Acier Springs, which, since the Roman epoch, have continued to
supply Besancon with the delicious water we find here in such abundance.
We have just such bits of wood, waterfalls, and mountains in North
Wales, but seldom in September such unbroken sunshine to make a pic-nic
exactly what it should be. It was warm enough for July, and young and
old could disport themselves on the turf in perfect security.

As the afternoon wore on, numerous pleasure-parties, mostly belonging to
the working-classes, found their way to the same pleasant spot, all
amply provided with baskets of wine and provisions. Some went further in
search of a little glade they could have to themselves, others took
possession of nooks and corners in the open space where we tad just
before dined so merrily. It was amusing to see how little attention
these good people paid to us, or any other outsiders. Two or three of
the women, fearing to tear their Sunday gowns in the wood, coolly took
them off, hung them on the trees near, and as coolly re-made their
toilette when their woodland rambles were over.

The train to Roche certainly brought in a goodly contingent of pic-nic
parties that afternoon and when about four o'clock we prepared to return
home, the place was beginning to wear a very animated appearance. The
moon had risen ere we reached our destination, and, seen in the tender
summer twilight, the valley of the Doubs looked even more beautiful than
in the glowing sunshine of mid-day. There is no monotony in these
vine-clad hills, rugged mountain sides wooded from peak to base, close
shut valleys, and bright blue winding rivers; whether seen under the
dropping shadows of a shifting sky, or under the glow of sunset, their
quiet beauties delight the eye of the mere spectator and commend
themselves to the artist. Perhaps no Department in France is richer in
rivers than Le Doubs, every landscape has its bit of river, rivulet or

To get an idea of the commanding position of Besancon, we must climb one
of these lofty green heights, that of _Notre Dame des Buis_, for
instance, an hour's drive from the town. Having reached a sharp
eminence, crowned by a chapel and covered with box-wood, we obtain a
splendid view of the natural and artificial defences which make
Besancon, strategically speaking, one of the strongest positions in
France. Caesar, in his 'Commentaries' speaks almost with enthusiasm of
the admirable [Footnote: "Oppidum maximum Sequauorum, natura loci, sic
muniebatur ut magnam ad ducendum bellum daret facultatem: propterea quod
flumen Dubis ut circino circumductum, pene totum oppidum cingit;
reliquum spatium [quod non est amplius pedum DC. qua flumen
intermittit,] mons continet magna altitudine, ita ut radices ejus montis
ex utra parte ripae fluminis continguat." _De Bello Gallico_, Lib. I.,
chap, xxxviii. A marvellous bit of accurate description this, and to be
commended to writers of guide-books.] position of Vesontio, the capital
of the Sequani, and, when he became master of it, the defeat of
Vercingetorix was a mere matter of time. But what would the great
general have said, could be have seen his citadel thus dwarfed into
insignificance by Vauban's magnificent fortifications? and what would be
Vauban's amazement could he behold the stupendous works of modern

Beyond these proudly-cresting heights, every peak bristling with its
defiant fort, stretches a vast panorama; the mountain chains of the
Jura, the Vosges, the snow-capped Swiss Alps, the plains of Burgundy,
all these lie under our eye, clearly defined in the transparent
atmosphere of this summer afternoon. The campanula white and blue, with
abundance of lovely tinted deep orange potentills and rich carmine
dianthus, were growing at our feet, with numerous other wild flowers.
The pretty pink mallow, cultivated in gardens, grows everywhere, but not
so luxuriantly here as about Morteau, and the serviceberry and barberry
have almost disappeared. This is indeed a paradise for botanists, but
their travels should be made earlier in the year. The walks and drives
in the neighbourhood of Besancon are countless, but that to the little
valley of the. World's End, "Le Bout du Monde," must on no account be

Again we follow the limpid waters of the winding Doubs; on one side
hanging vineyards and orchards, on the other lines of poplars, above
these dimpled green hills and craggy peaks are reflected in the still
transparent water. We reach the pretty village of Beurre after a
succession of landscapes, "l'un plus joli que l'autre," as our French
neighbours say, and then come suddenly upon a tiny valley shut in by
lofty rocks, aptly called the World's End of these parts, since here the
most adventuresome pedestrian must retrace his steps--no possibility of
scaling these mountain-walls, from which a cascade falls so musically;
no outlet from these impregnable walls into the pastoral country on the
other side. We must go back by the way we have come, first having
penetrated to the heart of the valley by a winding path, and watched the
silvery waters tumble down from the grey rocks that seem to touch the
blue sky overhead.

The great charm of these landscapes is the abundance of water to be
found everywhere, and no less delightful is the sight of springs,
fountains, and pumps in every village. Besancon is noted for its
handsome fountains, some of which are real works of art, but the tiniest
hamlets in the neighbourhood, and, indeed, throughout the whole
department of the Doubs, are as well supplied as the city itself. We
know what an aristocratic luxury good water is in many an English
village, and how too often the poor have no pure drinking water within
reach at all; here they have close at hand enough and to spare of the
purest and best, and not only their share of that, but of the good
things of the earth as well, a bit of vegetable and fruit-garden, a
vineyard, and, generally speaking, a little house of their own. Here, as
a rule, everybody possesses something, and the working watchmakers have,
most of them, their suburban gardens, to which they resort on Sundays
and holidays. Besancon is very rich in suburban retreats, and nothing
can be more enticing than the cottages and villas nestled so cosily
along the vine-clad hills that surround it on every side. It is, above
all, rich in public walks and promenades, one of these, the Promenade
Chamart--a corruption of Champ de Mars--possessing some of the finest
plane trees in Europe--a gigantic bit of forest on the verge of this
city--of wonderful beauty and stateliness. These veteran trees vary in
height from thirty to thirty-five yards. The Promenade Micaud, so called
after its originator, Mayor of Besancon, in 1842, winds along the
river-side, and affords lovely views at every turn. Then there are
so-called "squares" in the heart of the town, where military bands play
twice a week, and nursemaids and their charges spend the afternoons.
Perhaps no city of its size in all France, Besancon numbers only sixty
thousand inhabitants, is better off in this respect, whilst it is so
enriched by vine-clad hills and mountains that the country peeps in

Considered from all points of view it is a very attractive place to live
in, and possesses all the resources of the capital on a small scale; an
excellent theatre, free art schools, and an academy of arts, literary,
scientific and artistic societies, museums, picture galleries, lastly,
one of the finest public libraries in France, of which a word or two
more later on. First of all something must be said of the city itself,
which is especially interesting to the archaeologist and historian, and
is very little frequented by English tourists. Alternately Roman,
Burgundian, Arlesian, Anglo-French, and Spanish, Besancon has seen
extraordinary vicissitudes. In the twelfth century it was constituted a
free city or Commune, and was not incorporated into the French kingdom
till the reign of Louis XIV. Traces of these various occupations remain,
and as we enter in at one gate and pass out of another, we have each
successive chapter of its history suggested to us in the noble Porte
Noire or Roman triumphal arch; the ancient cathedral first forming a
Roman basilica; the superb semi-Italian, semi-Spanish Palais Granvelle,
the Hotel-de-Ville with its handsome sixteenth century facade; the
Renaissance council chamber in magnificently carved oak of the Palais de
Justice--all these stamp the city with the seal of different epochs, and
lend majesty to the modern, handsome town into which the Besancon of
former times has been transformed. The so-called _Porte Taillee_ a Roman
gate hewn out of the solid rock, forms an imposing entry to the city,
the triumphal arch before mentioned leading to the Cathedral only. Here
most picturesquely stand the columns and other fragments of the Roman
theatre excavated by the learned librarian, M. Castan, a few years back.
The Archbishop allows no one to see the art-treasures contained in the
archiepiscopal palace, among which is a fine Paul Veronese; but the
Cathedral is fortunately open, and there the art-lovers may rejoice in
perhaps one of the most beautiful Fra Bartolomeos in the world,
unfortunately hung too high to be well seen. Exteriorly the Cathedral
offers little interest, but the interior is very gorgeous--a dazzling
display of gold ornaments, stained glass, pictures, mosaics, and
ecclesiastical riches of all kinds. The other churches of Besancon are
not interesting, architecturally speaking, though picturesque,
especially St. Pierre, with its clock-tower conspicuously seen from
every part of the town. The archaeological museum is considered the best
arranged, as also, in some respects, it is the richest in France, and
contains some wonderfully beautiful things, notably the Celtic
collection found at Alaise, in the Department of the Jura--supposed by
some authorities to be the Alesia of Julius Caesar, whilst others have
decided in favour of Alise Sainte Reine, in Auvergne, where a statue has
been raised to the noble Vercingetorix. There are also Gallo-Roman
objects of great interest and beauty collected from Mandeure
_(Epanuoduorum)_ and other parts of Franche-Comte. Such collections must
be studied in detail to be appreciated, and I only mention them as
affording another illustration of the principle of decentralization
carried on in France--each city and town being enriched and embellished,
as far as possible, and made a centre artistic, scientific, and
literary. The museum contains amongst other things a curious collection
of old watches, the speciality of Besancon, of which more will be said
hereafter. But what was my astonishment and delight, as I sauntered by
the little cases under the window containing coins, medals, and
antiquities of various kinds, to come suddenly upon a label bearing the

"La Montre de Vergniaud."

There it lay, the little gold watch of the great Girondin orator,
choicest, most precious relic of the Revolution, historic memento
unrivalled for interest and romantic associations! Vergniaud's watch!
The very words take one's breath away, yet there it was, close under my
eyes. All those of my readers who are well acquainted with the history
of the Revolution in detail, will remember the Last Banquet of the
Girondins, that memorable meeting together of the martyrs of liberty,
each one condemned to die next morning for his political creed. The
Girondins ruthlessly swept away, the last barrier removed between
principle and passion, and the Revolutionary tide was free to work
destruction at its will; of these, Vergniaud was undoubtedly the
greatest, and anything and everything connected with him has a magic
interest. After the banquet, which was held with much state and ceremony
in a hall of the Conciergerie, now shown to travellers, the twenty-seven
Girondins discoursed in Platonic fashion upon the subjects nearest their
hearts, namely, the future of Republican ideas and the immortality of
the soul. This solemn symposium brought to an end, each occupied himself
differently, some in making their last testament, others in deep
thought, one in calm sleep; and it was during the interval that
Vergniaud with a pin scratched inside the case of his elegant little
gold watch the name of _Adele_, and having done this he handed it to a
trustworthy gaoler to be delivered next day. A few hours later his head
had fallen on the guillotine, but his last request was duly delivered to
the Adele for whom he designed it, a little girl of thirteen who was to
have become his wife. She became in due time a happy wife and mother,
and bequeathed Vergniaud's historic watch to a friend, who generously
bestowed it upon the Besancon Museum. Charles Nodier, in his "Dernier
Banquet des Girondins," gives an eloquent history of this watch, which
most likely he saw and handled as a youth. Vergniaud is undoubtedly one
of the most striking and imposing figures in the Revolution, and
everything concerning him is of deepest interest. His lofty soul, no
more than any other of that epoch, could foresee how the French Republic
would be established peaceably and friendly after torrents of blood and
crimes and errors unspeakable.

The picture-galleries, arranged in fine handsome rooms adjoining,
contain several _chefs d'oeuvre_ amid a fairly representative collection
of French art. The fine Albert Duerer--an altarpiece in wood--the Moro
portraits, the Bronzino--Descent from the Cross--all veritable gems,
lastly the portrait of Cardinal Granvelle by Titian. This is a noble
work; there are also two canvases attributed to Velasquez, "Galileo,"
and a "Mathematician." Seeing that Besancon was under Spanish protection
during the great painter's lifetime, and that all kinds of art-treasures
were amassed by the Granvelles in their superb palace, it might well
happen that works of Velasquez should have found their way here.
Authorities must decide on the genuineness of these two real works of

Under the same roof is the free art-school for students of both sexes,
which is one of the most flourishing institutes of the town, and dates
from the year 1794. In the second year of study, drawing is taught from
the living model, and every facility is thus afforded to those unable to
pursue their studies in Paris, or pay the expense of a private study.
There is also a free music-school and technical schools, both
gratuitous, and open to both sexes. Nor must we forget the Academy of
Science and Belles Lettres, which not only affords complete scientific
and literary instruction gratuitously to the poor student, but also
courses of lectures open to the general public from October till June.
These lectures may be compared to the Winter series of our Royal
Institution, (alas! the privilege of the rich and at least well-to-do
only!) and, besides offering a rare intellectual treat to lovers of
science and letters generally, are of the greatest possible use to needy
students. Indeed, so liberal is the City of Besancon in this respect
that any lad who has been lucky enough to get a nomination to the Lycee,
may here pass his examination for the Bachelier-es-Lettres and
es-Science without a farthing of costs. Again I may remark, as far as I
know, no English town of 60,000 inhabitants, more or less, offers
anything like the same advantages in the matter of higher instruction to
those who cannot afford to pay for it; but perhaps my English critics
will reply that those who cannot pay the cost of Royal Institution or
other lectures are unreasonable to expect scientific instruction, or
recreation, to which argument I have nothing to say. The fact remains,
as everyone who lives in France knows well enough, that we have nothing
to be compared to the free Academies, free art and music schools found
there so largely, and which have received considerable development of
late years. Many of these date from the great Revolution, when the
highest instruction was not considered too good for the people. The
superior taste, technical skill, and general intelligence of French
workmen are due to those causes, and, of course, chiefly to the
accessibility of museums, libraries, art-collections, &c. on Sundays. No
matter which of these you may happen to visit on a Sunday, you are sure
to find that soldiers, artisans and peasants curiously inspecting the
treasures displayed to view--even dry geological and archaeological
collections attracting their attention. It is impossible to have
anything to do with the French working classes, and not observe the
effect of this artistic culture, and here and there throughout this work
I have adduced instances in point. We have nothing in England to be
compared to the general filtration of artistic ideas, by means of
gratuitous art and technical instruction, and the opening on Sunday of
all art and literary collections.

But after all it is the watchmaking school, or, Ecole d'Horlogerie that
will perhaps most interest and instruct the traveller here, and he
should by no means neglect to visit it; however short his stay may be.
Watchmaking is, as is well known, the speciality of Besancon, and dates
as an important branch of industry from the year 1793. The National
Convention is to be thanked for the foundation of the first
"horlogerie," having invited to Besancon the refugee watchmakers of
Chaux de Fonds and Locle, who had been prescribed for their adherence to
the Republican idea. By a decree of the Convention, these exiles were
accorded succour, after which the Committee declared watchmaking in the
Department of the Doubs to be a national institution. Many hundred
thousand watches are made here annually, and it has been computed that,
out of every hundred watches in the French market, eighty-six come from
Besancon. In the year 1873, 353,764 watches were made, representing a
capital of fifteen millions of francs, and the trade increases annually.
The watchmaking school located in the picturesque old _Grenier_, or
public granary of the city, numbers over a hundred pupils of both sexes,
and is of course gratuitous. The Besancon watches are noted for their
elegance and cheapness, being sold at prices which would surprise
eminent London watchmakers. Many working watchmakers on a small scale,
are here, who, by dint of great economy, contrive to purchase a bit of
garden and summer house outside the town, whither they go on Sundays and
holidays to breathe the fresh air, and cultivate their flowers and
vegetables. But the majority are capitalists on a large scale, as at
Montbeliard, and I fear the workman's hours here are as long as at the
latter place. The length of the day's labour in France is appalling, the
one blot on a bright picture of thrift, independence, and a general

Delightful hours may be spent in the Public Library, one of the richest
of provincial France, which is also, like the charming little library of
Weimar, a museum as well. The most superb of these bibliographical
treasures were amassed by the Keeper of the Seals of Charles the Fifth,
Perrenot de Granvelle, and afterwards bequeathed by the Abbe Brisot,
into whose possession they had fallen, to the town of Besancon. Among
them are some splendid manuscripts from the library of Mathias Corvinus,
King of Hungary, and a vast collection of choice Aldines bound in the
costliest manner. No less than 1,200 volumes of the sixteenth century
are here, amongst these several specimens of topography printed in
Franche-Comte. Lovers of rare MSS., old books, and old bindings, have
here a feast, indeed, and are generously allowed access to all. Like
most other important, libraries in France, it is under the management of
a man of learning and distinction; M. Castan, the present librarian, is
the author of some valuable works relating to his native province and to
his archaeological labours. Besancon is mainly indebted not only for the
excavations, which have filled its museums with treasures, but for the
imposing Roman remains which adorn its streets. Besides its
bibliographical collections, the library contains a vast number of
coins, medallions, busts, engravings, and portraits relating to the
history of Franche-Comte, many of which are highly interesting. The
busts, portraits, and relics of such noble Franc-Comtois as have won a
European reputation--George Cuvier, for instance, whose brain weighed
more than that of any human being ever known; Victor Hugo, whose works
are familiar to readers in all languages; Charles Fourier, who saw in
the Phalanstery, or, Associated Home, a remedy for the crying social
evils of the age, and who, in spite of many aberrations, is entitled to
the gratitude of mankind for his efforts on behalf of education, and the
elevation of the laborious classes; Proudhon, whose famous dictum, "La
propriete c'est le vol," has become the watchword of a certain school of
Socialists, which even the iron despotism of Russia and Germany cannot
keep down; Charles Nodier, charming _litterateur_, who, at the age of
twenty-one, was the author of the first satire ever published against
the first Napoleon, "La Napoleone," which formulated the indignation of
the Republican party, and a noble roll-call of artists, authors,
savants, soldiers, and men of science.

Noteworthy in this treasure-house of Franc-Comtois history is the fine
marble statue of Jouffroy by Pradier. Jouffroy, of whom his native
province may well be proud, disputes with Fulton the honour of first
having applied steam to the purposes of navigation. His efforts, made on
the river Doubs and the Saone in 1776 and 1783, failed for the want of
means to carry out his ideas in full, but the Academy of Science
acknowledged his claim to the discovery in 1840. The Besancon Library,
indeed, whether considered as such _pur et simple_, or a museum, is full
of interest and instruction, and deserves a lengthened visit. The
collection of works on art, architecture, and archaeology bequeathed to
the city by Paris, architect and designer to Louis XVI., is a very rich
one and there is also a cabinet of medals numbering ten thousand pieces.

Besancon also boasts of several learned societies, one of which founded
in the interests of scientific inquiry so far back as 1840, "La Societe
d'Emulation du Doubs," numbers five hundred and odd members. One of the
most interesting features in the ancient city is its connection with
Spain, and what has been termed the golden age of Franche-Comte under
the Emperor Charles the Fifth. It will be remembered that Franche-Comte
formed a part of the dowry of Margaret, daughter of the Emperor
Maximilian of Austria, and it was under her protectorate during her
life-time and reverted to her nephew Charles the Fifth on his accession
to the crowns of Spain, Austria, the Low Countries, and Burgundy. His
minister, Perrenot de Granvelle, born at Ornans, infused new
intellectual and artistic life into the place he ruled as a prince. His
stately Italian palace, still one of the handsomest monuments of
Besancon, was filled with pictures, statues, books, and precious
manuscripts, and the stimulus thus given to literature and the fine arts
was followed by a goodly array of artists, thinkers, and writers. The
learned Gilbert Cousin, secretary of Erasmus, Prevost, pupil of
Raffaelle, Goudinel of Besancon, the master of Palestrina, creator of
popular music, the lettered family of Chifflet, and many others, shed
lustre on this splendid period; while not only Besancon but
Lons-le-Saunier, Arbois, and other small towns bear evidence of Spanish
influence on architecture and the arts. In the most out of the way
places may be found _chefs-d'oeuvre_ dating from the protectorate of
Margaret and the Emperor, and it is such scattered treasure-trove that
makes travelling in out of the way places in Franche-Comte so fruitful
to the art-lover in various fields.

The most salient feature of social life at Besancon is its Catholicism,
the place literally swarming with priests, and soldiers, to the great
detriment of public morality. The Protestants, nevertheless, hold their
own here, and even gain ground, witness the Protestant Church
established within the last ten years at Arbois by the Consistory of
Besancon. They have also succeeded in founding a hospital here for the
sick and aged poor, which is the greatest possible boon. Up till that
time, this section of the community had been received in the municipal
hospital under the management of the nuns, who, of course, did all in
their power to worry their patients into Catholicism. We know what
happens when a hospital is under the charge of nuns, and it can easily
be understood that many of these poor people preferred to embrace a
crucifix than forego their broth when half dead of exhaustion. Some
would go through a mock conversion, others would endure a martyrdom till
the last; but the position alike of weak and obstinate was unbearable.
Now there is a home, not only for the indigent sick and aged, but for
those who can afford to pay a small sum for being well looked after; and
it is delightful to witness the home-like ease and comfort everywhere.
The poor people welcomed their pastor, who accompanied me on my visit,
not only as a priest but as a friend, and it was easy to see how they
enjoyed a little talk with Madame, and the prattle of the children.

The large shady hospital garden overlooking the town is much resorted to
in fine weather, and everywhere we found cheerful faces. It is hardly
necessary to say that this admirable work needs money. The Catholic
clergy, of course, regard any step in advance on the part of the
Protestants with abhorrence, and do a little bit of persecution whenever
opportunity offers. Thus, as perhaps may not be known to all my readers,
the parish burial-ground in France is open by the law to all sects and
denominations indiscriminately; Protestant, Jew, Mahometan, or Brahmin
may here find a resting-place in spite of M. le Cure. Such is the law,
and an admirable law it is, but the law means one thing to a Catholic
and another to a Protestant There is no Protestant burial-ground in
Besancon or the neighbouring villages, so that everyone is buried in the
town and parish cemetery; but, as mayors of small country towns and
villages often happen not to know the law, the cure tries to circumvent
his enemy at the last. Accordingly, when the time of burial comes, a
Protestant pastor may be kept waiting for hours in consequence of this
wilful obstinacy; supposing that the mayor is under clerical influence,
useless to argue "La loi est avec nous;" cure and mayor persist, and at
the last moment the unfortunate pastor has to telegraph to the Prefet,
who, whether clerical or not, knows the law, and is obliged to follow
it, and consequently sends an authorization which ends the matter. This
is very blind on the part of the clericals, for it naturally turns the
Protestants into martyrs. It happened in a little village, not far from
Besancon, that, after a scene of this kind, all the village population
turned into the cemetery, and, by the time the Prefet's order came, the
Protestant pastor had a large audience for his discourse over the grave.
"C'est si consolant chez les Protestants, l'enterrement des morts,"
people were heard to say, and let us hope that the cure and the mayor
were punished for their folly by a few conversions among their flocks to

A mediaeval writer, Francois de Belleforest, thus describes Besancon:--

"Si par l'antiquite, continuee en grandeur, la benediction de Dieu se
cognoit en une lieu, il n'y a ville ni cite en toutes les Gaules qui ayt
plus grande occasion de remarquer la faveur de Dieu, en soy que la cite
dont nous avions prise le discours. Car, en premier lieu, elle est
assise en aussi bonne et riche assiette que ville du monde; estant
entoure de riches costeaux et vignobles, et de belles et hautes forets,
ayant la riviere du Doux qui passe par le millieu, et enclost pour le
plupart d'icelle, estant bien, d'ailleurs fort bien approvisionee. Les
fruicts y sont aussi bons, et y a aussi bonne commodite de venaison et de
gibier en ceste ville, qu'en autre qu'on sceut choisir. Et puis ce qu'elle
est a la cheultes des montagnes, on la tient pour le grenier commun du
comte de Bourgogne, comme jadis Sicile estait de l'Itaile. Et s'il etait
question d'estimer la vertu d'un peuple, qui s'est longtemps maintenu
libre sans ployer la gantelet, ni rien perdu de sa reputation, on peut,
a bon droit, faire cas de ceste cite. Et certes de tout temps ceste brave
cite a este enviee des tyrans, pour en usurper la domination. Et il n'y a
ni eu ni menaces, ni allechement qui ayent sceu esbranler les nobles et
libres coeurs besanconnais, pour quicter aucune chose de leurs libertez,
quelques couleurs de grandeur et de richesses qu'on leur ayt mis audevant
pour se laisser annexer au comte de Bourgogne, et avoir un parlement, et
se mettre auxpieds ce qu'il ont aux mains."



Let the reader now follow me to Ornans, Courbet's birth and favourite
abiding place, and the lovely Valley of the Loue. This is the excursion
_par excellence_ from Besancon, and may be made in two ways, either on
foot, occupying three or four days, decidedly the most advantageous for
those who can do it, or by carriage in a single day, starting very early
in the morning, and telegraphing for relays at Ornans the previous
afternoon. This is how we managed it, starting at five, and reaching
home soon after eight at night. The children accompanied us, and I must
say, better fellow-travellers I never had than these mites of sixteen
months and three and a-half years. When tired of looking at the cows,
oxen, goats, horses and poultry, we passed on the road, they would amuse
themselves for an hour by quietly munching a roll, and, when that
occupation at last came to an end, they would go to sleep, waking up
just as happy as before.

Here I will mention that the great amiability of the French character is
no more strongly manifested than in this habit of always having their
little children about them. As neither day nor night nurseries exist in
France, and head-nurses are equally unheard of, young children are
always with their parents. Thus, if visitors call, and papa and mamma
happen to be engaged in interesting conversation with them, no attention
will be paid to the perpetual noise and interruption of little toddling
things, whose place is naturally there. I have heard an animated
political discussion go on whilst a boy of two and a half was hammering
with a hammer on a wooden box; and no kind of notice was taken by his
elders. Such a practice, of course, could only be made tolerable by
excessive good-nature, but there is no doubt that our own system is
better both for parents and children.

Ornans is not only extremely picturesque in itself, but interesting as
the birth and favourite abiding place of the famous painter Courbet; it
is also a starting place for the Valley of the Loue, and the source of
this beautiful little river, the last only to be seen in fine, dry
weather, on account of the steepness and slipperiness of the road. The
climate of Franche-Comte is unfortunately very much like our own, being
excessively changeable, rainy, blowy, sunny, all in a breath. To-day's
unclouded sunshine is no guarantee of fine weather to-morrow, and
although, as a rule, September is the finest month of the year here, it
was very variable during my stay, with alternations of rain and
chilliness. Fine days had to be waited for and seized upon with avidity,
whilst the temperature is liable to great and sudden variations.

Ornans we reach after a drive of three hours, amid hills luxuriantly
draped with vines and craggy peaks clothed with verdure, here and there
wide sketches of velvety green pasture with cattle feeding, haymakers
turning over the autumn hay. Everywhere we find haymakers at work, and
picturesque figures they are.

Ornans is lovely, and no wonder that Courbet was so fond of it. Nestled
in a deep valley of green rocks and vineyards, and built on the banks of
the transparent Loue, its quaint spire rising from the midst, it
commends itself alike to artist, naturalist, and angler. These old-world
houses reflected in the river are marvellously paintable, and the scene,
as we saw it after a heavy rain, glowed in the brightest and warmest

Courbet's house is situated, not on the river, but by the roadside, on
the outskirts of the town, fronting the river and the bright green
terraced hills above. It is a low, one-storied house, embosomed in
greenery, very rural, pretty, and artistic. In the dining-room we were
shown a small statue of the painter by his own hand, giving one rather
the idea of a country-squire or sporting farmer than a great artist, and
his house--which is not shown to strangers--is full of interesting
reminiscences of its owner. In the kitchen is a splendid Renaissance
chimney-piece in sculptured marble, fit for the dining-hall of a
Rothschild. This, Courbet found in some old chateau near, and,
artist-like, transferred it to his cottage. On the walls of the studio
are two frescoes he painted in his happier days, before he helped to
overthrow the Vendome Column, and thus forfeited the good feeling of his
fellow-townsmen. Ornans is clerical to the backbone, and will it be
believed?--after this unfortunate affair of the Vendome Column, an
exquisite statue, with which Courbet had decorated the public fountain,
was thrown down, of course at clerical instigation. Morteau, it must be
supposed, being more enlightened, rescued the dishonoured statue, and it
now adorns the public fountain of that village. It is, indeed,
impossible to give any idea of the vindictive spirit with which poor
Courbet was treated by his native village, and, seeing how much he loved
it, it must have galled him deeply. We were allowed to wander at will
over the house and straggling gardens, having friends in the present
occupants, but the house still belongs to the Courbet family, and is not
otherwise to be seen.

All this time I was listening, with no little edification, to the
remarks of our young driver, who took the keenest interest in Courbet
and art generally. He told me, as an instance of the strong feeling
existing against Courbet after the events of the Commune, that, upon one
occasion when the painter had been drinking a toast with a friend in a
cafe, he had no sooner quitted the place than a young officer sprang up
and dashed the polluted glass to the ground, shattering it into a dozen
pieces. "No one shall henceforth drink out of a glass used by that man,"
he said, and doubtless he was only echoing the popular sentiment.

Ornans is the birthplace of the princely Perronet de Granvelle (father
of the Cardinal whose portrait by Titian adorns the picture-gallery of
Besancon), and whose munificent patronage of arts and letters turned
that city into a little Florence during the Spanish regime. In the
church is seen the plain red marble sarcophagus of his parents, also a
carved reading desk and several pictures presented to the church by his
son, the Cardinal. There is a curious old Spanish house in the town, a
relic of the same epoch. Ornans is celebrated for its cherry orchards
and fabrications of Kirsch, also for Absinthe, and its wines. Everywhere
you see cherry orchards and artificial terraces for the vines as on the
Rhine, not a ledge of hill side being wasted. Gruyere cheese, so called,
is also made here, and there are besides several manufactures,
nail-forges, wire-drawing mills, and tile-kilns. But none of these
interfere with the pastoralness of the scenery, and no wonder that this
attracts French artists in the summer time. Lovely walks and drives
abound, and the magnificence of the forest trees has been made familiar
to us by the landscapes of Courbet, whose name will ever be associated
with this quaint village in the Valley of the Loue.

We are now on the high road from Ornans to Pontarlier, and are passing
some of the wealthiest little communities in Franche-Comte, Montgesoye,
Vuillafans, Lods, all most picturesque to behold, and important centres
of industry. Iron foundries, kirsch distilleries, chemical works, and
other manufactures maintain these rustic populations, and such isolated
little nuclei of trade will doubtless take extraordinary development
when the line of railway from Besancon to Pontarlier, by way of Ornans,
is completed. At present it is one of the few places that may be
described as out of the world, and a veritable paradise for the lover of
quiet and rusticity. If we proceed further on the Monthier road, the
aspect changes, and we find ourselves in the winding close-shut valley,
the narrow turbulent little streams of deepest green tossing over its
rocky bed amid hanging vineyards and lofty cliffs. Soon, however, the
vine, the oak, the beech, and the ash tree disappear, and we have
instead the sombre pine and fir only.

Monthier is perched on a hill-side amid grandiose mountains, and is
hardly less picturesque than Ornans, though not nearly so enticing. In
fact it is a trifle dirty when visited in detail, though charming,
viewed from the high road above. Here we sat down to an excellent dinner
at one end of the _salle-a-manger_; at the other was a long table where
a number of peasant farmers, carters, and graziers--it was fair
day--were faring equally well: our driver was amongst them, and all were
as quiet and well-behaved as possible, but given to spit on the floor,
"as is their nature to." The charges were very low, the food good, the
wine sour as vinegar, and the people obliging in the extreme. The hotels
in these parts are very much on a par with caravanserais in Algeria;
bells, fire-places, and other necessities of civilized life are unknown,
the bed-rooms are often reached by an outside staircase only, and afford
such accommodation we should not think luxurious for a stable-boy in
England, and these often, moreover, adjoin a noisy upper
_salle-a-manger_, where eating, and drinking, and talking go on all day

After having stopped to look at the beautiful old wood carvings in the
church, we continue our way, climbing the mountain road towards
Pontarlier; hardly knowing which to admire most, the deep-lying valley
at our feet, where the little imprisoned river curls with a noise as of
thunder, making miniature cascades at every step, or the limestone rocks
of majestic shape towering above on the other side. One of them, the
so-called _Roche de Hautepierre_, is nearly nine hundred yards high; the
road all the time zigzags wonderfully around the mountain sides, a
stupendous piece of engineering which cost the originator his life. Soon
after passing the tunnel cut in the rock, we saw an inscription telling
how the engineer, while engaged in taking his measurements, lost his
footing and was precipitated into the awful ravine below. The road
itself was opened in 1845, and is mainly due to the public spirit of the
inhabitants of Ornans.

Franche-Comte is rich in zig-zagging mountain roads of daring
construction, and none are more wonderful than this. As we crawl at a
snail's pace between rocks and ravine, silvery grey masses towering
against the glowing purple sky, deepest green fastnesses below that make
us giddy to behold, all is still but for the sea-like war of the little
river as it pours down impetuously from its mountain home. The heavy
rain of the previous night unfortunately prevents us from following it
to its source, a delightful excursion in tolerably dry weather, but
impracticable after a rain-fall. By far the best, way is to sleep at
Monthier and visit the source on foot, but fatigue may be avoided by
taking a carriage from Pontarlier. Between Monthier and the source of
the Loue is a bit of wild romantic scenery known as the _Combes de
Nouaille_, home of the Franc-Comtois elf, or fairy, called _la Vouivre_.
_Combe_, it must be explained, means a straight, narrow valley lying
between two mountains, and Charles Nodier remarks: "is very French, and
is perfectly intelligible in any part of the country, but has been
omitted in the Dictionary of the Academy, because there is no _combe_ at
the Tuileries, the Champs Elysees or the Luxembourg!" These close
winding _combes_ form one of the most characteristic and picturesque
features of Franc-Comtois scenery. Leaving the more adventuresome part
of this journey therefore to travellers luckier in respect of weather
than ourselves, we turn our horses' heads towards Ornans, where we rest
for coffee and a little chat with friends. As we set out for Besancon, a
splendid glow of sunset lights up Courbet's birth and favourite abiding
place, clothing in richest gold the hills and hanging woods he portrayed
with so much vigour and poetic feeling. The glories of the sinking sun
lingered long, and, when the last crimson rays faded, a full pearly moon
rose in the clear heavens, lighting us on our way.

A few days after this delightful excursion, I left Besancon, as I had
done Montbeliard, amid the heartiest leave-takings, and the last
recollection I brought away from the venerable town is of two little
fair-haired boys, whose faces were lifted to mine for a farewell kiss in
the railway station.



Hardly has the traveller quitted Besancon in the direction of
Lons-le-Saunier ere he finds himself amid wholly different scenery; all
is now on a bolder, vaster scale, desolate sweeps of rocky plain,
shelving mountain sides, bits of scant herbage alternating with
vineyards, the golden foliage lending wondrous lustre to the otherwise
arid landscapes, the rocks rising higher and higher as we go--such are
the features that announce the Jura. We have left the gentler beauties
of the Doubs behind us, and are now in one of the most romantic and
picturesque regions of all France. Salins, perhaps the only cosmopolitan
town that the Jura can be said to possess, since hither English and
other tourists flock in the summer season, is superbly situated--a
veritable fairy princess guarded by monster dragons! Four tremendous
mountain peaks protect it on every side, towering above the little town
with imposing aspect; and it is no less strongly defended by art, each
of these mountain tops being crested with fortifications. Salins bears
indeed a formidable front to the enemy, and no wonder the Prussians
could not take it. Strategically, of course, its position is most
important, as a glance at the map will show. It is in itself a wonderful
little place from its "assiette," as the French say; and wherever you go
you find wild natural beauty, while the brisk mountain air is delightful
to breathe, and the transparent atmosphere lends an extra glow to every
feature of the scene.

At Salins too we find ourselves in a land of luxuries, _i.e._, clean
floors, chamber-maids, bells, sofas, washing basins and other items in
hygiene and civilization not worth mentioning. The Hotel des Messageries
is very pleasant, and here, as in the more primitive regions before
described, you are received rather as a guest to be made much of than as
a foreigner to be imposed upon. This charming _bonhomie_, found among
all classes, is apt to take the form of gossip overmuch, which is
sometimes wearisome. The Franc-Comtois, I must believe, are the greatest
talkers in the world, and any chance listener to be caught by the button
is not easily let go. Yet a considerable amount of volubility is
pardoned when people are so amiable and obliging.

Mendicity is forbidden in the Jura as in the Department of the Doubs,
and there is little real pinching poverty to be found among the rural
population, though of course a laboriousness and economy unknown among
our own. In the most part, the vine-grower and fabricator of Gruyere
cheese, so called, is well-to-do and independent, and here indeed, the
soil is the property of the people.

The Salins season ends on the 15th of September, when the magnificent
hydropathic establishment is closed, and only a few stray visitors
remain. The Salins waters are said to be much more efficacious than
those of Kreuznach in Prussia, which they much resemble; and the nature
of the soil is shown by its deep crimson hue. If the tonic qualities of
these mountain springs are invaluable, it must be admitted that they are
done ample justice to, for never surely were so many public fountains to
be found in a town of the same size. A charming monograph might be
devoted to the public fountains of Franche-Comte, and those of Salins
are especially meritorious as works of art. How many there are, I cannot
say, but at least half-a-dozen are interesting as monuments, notably the
charming life-size bronze figure of a Vintager, by the gifted Salinois
sculptor, Max Claudel, ornamenting one, the fine torso surmounting
another, and of which the history is mysterious, the group of swans
adorning a third, and so on; at every turn the stranger coming upon some
street ornament of this kind, whilst the perpetual sound of running
water is delightful to the ear. I shall never recall the Jura without
this cool, pleasant, dripping noise, as much a part of it as its brisk
air and dazzling blue sky.

There is a good deal to see at Salins; the _salines_, or salt-works, the
old church of St. Anatole with its humorous wood-carvings, the exquisite
Bruges tapestries in the Museum, the ancient gateways of the city, the
quaint Renaissance statue of St. Maurice in the church of that
name--wooden figure of a soldier-peasant on horseback--and lastly the
forts and the superb panoramas to be obtained from them. This little
straggling town, of not more than six thousand and odd inhabitants,
possesses a public library of ten thousand volumes, a natural history
museum, and a theatre, and other resources. It is eminently Catholic,
but I was glad to find that the thin edge of the Protestant wedge is
being driven in there, a Protestant service being now held once a month,
and this will doubtless soon develop into some regular organization.
Protestantism means cleanliness, education, and domestic morality, and
Catholicism the reverse; so no wonder that the more enlightened mayors
and municipalities are inclined to look upon these quiet invasions with
favour. As I narrate my progress through the Jura, it will be seen that
I found Protestantism everywhere making head against the enemy.

Perhaps the most beautiful excursion to be made from Salins is to the
little town of Nans, and the source of the River Lison, a two hours'
drive amid scenery of alternating loveliness and grandeur--vines
everywhere as we climb upwards, our road curling round the
mountain-sides, as a ribbon twisted round a sugar-loaf, and then having
wound in and out jagged peaks covered with light foliage and abrupt
slopes clad with vines, we come to the sombre pine-forests, passing from
one forest to another, the air blowing upon us with sudden keenness. No
sooner do we emerge from these gloomy precincts than we come upon the
pretty little village of Nans, smiling and glowing in a warm sunlit
valley, and most enticing to us after the sombreness and chilliness of
the mountain-tops.

Although anything but a _gourmand_ myself, I will mention for the
benefit of those who really care for good things, that we found a most
wonderful dinner awaiting us in the homely little _auberge_ at which we
alighted--hare, salmon, trout, prawns, and all kinds of local
confectionery, were here supplied at the modest price of ten francs and
a half, the cook of the establishment being the landlady herself, and
the entire staff consisting of two old women. One of these was drafted
off to guide me to the source, and off we set on our walk, at once
leaving the warm open valley for the mountain world. On and on we went,
the mountain closing upon us and shutting out more and more of the
glowing blue heavens, till we came to a stand. From these rocky
fastnesses, here forbidding further progress, the River Lison has its
source; above they show a silvery grey surface against the emerald of
the valleys and the sapphire of the sky, but below the huge clefts, from
which we are soon to see the river issue forth exultingly, they are
black as night.

A few steps onward and we were in sight of the source, and no words can
convey its imposingness, or the sense of contrast forced upon the
mind--the pitchy, ebon cavern from which flashes the river in silvery
whiteness, tumbling in a dozen cascades down glistening black rocks, and
across pebbly beds, and along gold-green pastures. We explored the inner
part of this strange rock-bed; the little River Lison, springing from
its dark cavernous home, leaping forth with wild exultation into the
light, pursuing its way under all kinds of difficulties, growing broader
and broader as it goes, till a wide, sunlit river, it flows onward and
onward, finally reaching the sea, reminded me, as I gazed, of a lovely
thought emerging from the thinker's brain, which, after obstacles and
hindrances innumerable, at last, refreshing all as it goes, reaches the
open light of universal truth.

Behind the source, and reached by a winding path cut in the rocks, is a
lofty chasm, from the summit of which another mountain stream falls with
beautiful effect; and no less impressive and curious are the so-called
_Grottes des Sarrazins_, a little further off, huge caverns shutting in
a little lake, and where the river rushes with a sound of thunder.

On the steep mountain path, leading to the chasm just mentioned, we
found hellebore growing in abundance, also the winter-cherry, its
vermillion-hued capsules glowing through the green. The brilliant red
berry of the white bream-tree also lends colour to the wayside hedge, as
well as the deep rose-coloured fruit of the barberry. Flowers also grow
in abundance; and in the town their cultivation seems a passion. Some
gardens contain sun-flowers, or little else, others are full of zinnias,
flowering mallow trees, and balsams. There is no gardening aimed at, in
our sense of the word, but simply abundance of colour; the flowers are
planted anyhow and grow anyhow, the result being ornamental in the

There is a pottery, or _faiencerie_; of two hundred years standing at
Nans, and some of the wares are very pretty and artistic. The chief
characteristics of the Nans ware, or _cailloutage_, is its creamy,
highly-glazed surface, on which are painted, by hand, flowers, birds,
and arabesques in brilliant colours, and in more or less elaborate
styles. Attempts are also made to imitate the well-known Strasburg ware,
of which great quantities are found in these parts, chiefly at sales in
old houses. The Strasburg ware is known by its red flowers--chiefly
roses and tulips--on a creamy ground, also elaborate arabesques in deep
purple. If we take up a specimen, we find the ornamentation done at
random, and, in fact, the artist was compelled to this method of working
in order to conceal the imperfections of the porcelain. The Nans
ware--very like the _faiencerie_ of Salins--commends itself alike for
form and design, and the working potters employed there will be found
full of information, which they are very ready to impart. One of them,
with whom I fell into conversation, had just returned from the Paris
Exhibition, and expressed himself with enthusiasm concerning the English
ceramic galleries, of which, indeed, we may be proud.

It is impossible to exaggerate the beauty of Salins, and its stately
environment of rock and vine-clad peak, especially seen on such a
September day as this I describe, when the sky is of warmest blue, and
the air so transparent, fresh, and exhilarating that merely to breathe
is a pleasure. Nor are the people less striking than their mountain
home. Dark hair, rich complexions, regular features, an animated
expression, are the portion of most, especially of the women, whilst all
wear a look of cheerfulness and health. No rags, no poverty, no squalor;
and the abundance of natural resources brings the good things of life
within reach of all. At the unpretending hotel, the cookery would not
discredit the Hotel de Bristol itself, everything being of the best. I
was served with a little bird which I ate with great innocence, and no
little relish, supposing it to be a snipe, but, on asking what it was, I
found, to my horror, the wretches had served up a thrush! I am sorry to
say a tremendous slaughter of migratory birds goes on at this time of
the year; not only thrushes, but larks, linnets, and other sweet little
songsters supplying the general dinner table. The thrushes feed largely
on grapes, which lend them a delicious flavour when cooked, and for
which nefarious practice on their part they are said to be destroyed. I
was assured that a thrush will eat two bunches of grapes a day, and so
they are killed by the hundreds of thousands, and sold for three
half-pence each, or sometimes a franc per dozen. Thrushes, moreover, are
considered game, and occasionally the gendarmes succeed in catching a
poacher, but so mixed are one's feelings in dealing with this question
that it is impossible to know whether to sympathise with the unfortunate
wine-grower whom the thrush robs of his two bunches of grapes per day,
the poacher who is caught and heavily fined for catching it, or with the
bird itself. No one who has Browning's charming lines by heart on the
thrush in an "English garden in Spring," will ever quietly sit down to
such a repast, and, whenever I could, I lectured the people on this
slaughter of singing birds for the dinner table, I fear to no purpose.
Leaving the gourmand--whose proclivities, by the way, are much
encouraged throughout every stage of his journey in the
Franche-Comte--let me advise the curious to study the beautiful interior
of the church of St. Anatole dominating the town, also the equestrian
statue of St. Maurice in the church of that name. The effect of this bit
of supreme realism is almost ludicrous. The good old saint looks like
some worthy countryman trotting off to market, and not at all like a
holy martyr of the church.

In the Museum is seen a medallion portrait of Courbet, to which my
cicerone pointed with an expression, of horror, as that of "the artist
who pulled down the Vendome column."

My next stage was Arbois, a little town travellers should see on account
of its charming situation in the winding valley, or "Cluse," of the
Cuisance. Nothing can be prettier, or give a greater idea of prosperity,
than these rich vine-yards sloping on all sides, the grapes purpling in
spite of much bad weather; orchards with their ripening fruit; fields of
maize, the seed now bursting the pod, and of buckwheat now in full
flower, the delicate pink and white blossom of which is so poetically
called by Michelet "la neige d'ete." No serenity, no grandeur here, all
is verdure, dimples, smiles; abundance of rich foliage and pasture,
abundance also of clear limpid water, taking every form, springs,
cascades, rivulets, the little river Cuisance winding in and out amid
vineyards and pastures over its rocky bed. You must follow this charming
babbling river along the narrow valley to its twin sources in tangled
glen and rock; the road winding between woods, vine-yards, and fantastic
crags. The _cluse_, a narrow valley, is just paradisiacal, a bit of Eden
made up of smooth pastures, rippling water, hanging woods, and golden
glens, all this bright afternoon sparkling amid dew and sunshine. At one
of these river sources, you see the tufa in course of formation in the
river bed; in the other, the reverse process takes place, the tufa there
being dissolved. Both sites are poetic and lovely in the extreme. I was
sorry to hear of the devastation committed here by the _oidium_, or vine
blight, and the dreaded _phylloxera_, which has already ruined
thousands, causing a loss of just half the amount of the German war
indemnity. This redoubtable foe is not many leagues off! Measures are
taken against the _phylloxera_, as against an invading army, but, at
present, no remedy has been discovered; and, meantime, many once rich
and happy wine-growers are reduced to beggary. It was heart-breaking to
gaze on the sickly appearance of the vines already attacked by the
_oidium_, and to hear the harrowing accounts of the misery caused by an
enemy more redoubtable still. Arbois, though so charming to look at, is
far from being a little Eden. It is eminently a Catholic place; atheism
and immorality abound; bigotry among the women, scepticism among the
men, a looseness in domestic morality among all classes characterize the
population, whilst we need no information on the subject of dissipation
generally. The numbers of _cafes_ and _cabarets_ speak volumes. There
is, of course, in this townling, of not six thousand souls, a theatre,
which is greatly resorted to. One old church has been turned into a
theatre at Arbois, and another into the Halles, a third into the
Hotel-de-Ville, a desecration we Protestants can but behold with
aversion. Protestantism is a young and tender plant as yet in Arbois,
the church and school, or so called _culte_, dating from ten years back
only. The congregation consists of about fifty persons, all belonging to
the poorer classes, and the position of a pastor there must be a sad
one. He is constantly importuned for help, which, out of his slender
income, he can ill afford to bestow, and he is surrounded by spies,
detractors, and adversaries on every side. That clericalism dominates
here, we need not be told. The booksellers' shops are filled with tracts
about the miracles of Lourdes, rosaries, and rubrics; the streets swarm
with nuns, Jesuits, and Freres Ignorantins. If you ask an intelligent
lad of twelve if he can read and write, he shakes his head and says no.
The town itself, which might be so attractive if a little attention were
paid to hygienic and sanitary matters, is neglected and dirty. The
people are talkative and amiable, and are richly endowed by nature,
especially in the mathematical faculty. It is said that every peasant in
these parts is a born mathematician, and curiously enough the
distinguished names of Arbois are those of military engineers and
lawyers, notably Generals David, Delort, and Baudrand, and the
celebrated jurisconsult Courvoisier. Here, as in other towns of
Franche-Comte, traces of the Spanish occupation remain in the street
architecture, the arcades and picture-galleries lending character.
Arbois, after Salins, is like an April glimpse of sunshine following a
black thunder-cloud, so contrasted is the grace of the one with the
severity of the other. Tourists never come here, and in these wayside
inns the master acts as waiter and porter, the mistress as cook; they
give you plenty of good food, for which they hardly like to receive
anything at all, talk to you as if you were an old friend during your
stay, and, at your departure, are ready to embrace you out of pure

Something must be said about the famous Arbois wine, of which Henry the
Fourth of France wrote to his friend the Duke of Mayenne upon their
reconciliation:--"I have some Arbois wine in my cellar, of which I send
you two bottles, for I am sure you will not dislike it." These wines,
both red and yellow, find their way to connoisseurs in Paris, but are
chiefly grown for home-consumption. There are several kinds, and the
stranger in these regions must taste both the red and the yellow of
various ages and qualities to judge of their merits. I drank some of the
latter thirty years old, and certainly even to one to whom the pleasures
of the palate are indifferent, it tasted much as nectar might be
supposed to do on Mount Olympus. The grapes are dried on straw before
making this yellow wine, and the process is a very delicate and
elaborate one.

How wonderful it seems to find friends and welcomes in these
unfrequented regions! Up till the moment of my departure from Arbois, a
little town few English travellers have even heard of, I had been
engaged in earnest friendly talk with a Protestant pastor, and also with
a schoolmaster and Scripture reader from the heart of the Jura; and no
sooner did I arrive at Lons-le-Saunier than I found myself as much at
home in two charming family circles as if I had known them all my life.
Amid the first of these I was compelled to accept hospitality, and at
once took my place at the hospitable family board opposite two little
curly heads, boy and girl; while, an hour or two after my arrival, I was
sitting in the old-fashioned artistically furnished drawing-room of a
Franche-Comte Catholic family, father, mother, son and young married
daughter, all welcoming me as an old friend. This was not in the
cheerful little town of Lons-le-Saunier itself, but in a neighbouring
village to which I drove at once, for I knew that I had been expected
several days before. Fruits, liqueurs, preserves, cakes, I know not what
other good things were brought out to me, and after an hour or two
delightfully spent in music and conversation, I left, promising to spend
a long day with my kind friends before continuing my journey. It is
impossible to give any idea of Franche-Comte hospitality; you are
expected to taste of everything, and your pockets are crammed with the
good things you cannot eat.

I had fortunately no experience of hotels here, but a glance I got at
the first in the place, when calling there for letters, was far from
inspiring confidence. A detachment of troops was passing through the
town, and large numbers of officers were lodged in the hotel, turning it
into a scene of indescribable confusion. The food is said to be first
rate, but the rooms looked dirty and uninviting, and the noise was
enough to drive anyone out of his wits. How refreshing to find myself in
this quiet Presbytere on the outskirts of the town, no noise except the
occasional pattering of little feet and happy sound of children's
voices, almost absolute quiet indeed from morning to night! My window
looks upon a charming hill clothed with vineyards, and, immediately
underneath, the large straggling garden of the Presbytere. The little
church adjoins the house, and the school is also under the same roof,
while the schoolmaster takes his place as a guest at the family table of
the pastor. All is harmony, quiet enjoyment, and peaceful domestic life.

Ah! what a different thing is the existence of a Catholic priest from
that of a Protestant pastor! On the one side, we find selfishness,
sensuality, and enforced isolation from the purifying influences of home
and the domestic affections; a life out of harmony with the holiest
instincts of human nature, and by the force of circumstances,
detrimental not only to the individual himself, but to society at
large--on the other, a high standard of social and domestic virtue, a
career of persistent self-denial, simplicity, and dignified obedience to
the natural laws and exigencies of society, a life indeed edifying to
all, and, by virtue of its unselfishness, uplifting to the individual.
No one who knows French life intimately can fail to be struck by the
comparison between the two, and painful it is to think how the one is
the rule, and the other the exception, in this favoured land of France!



Lons-le-Saunier, capital or chef-lieu of the Department of the Jura is
charmingly situated amid undulating vine-covered hills, westward,
stretching the vast plain of La Bresse, eastward and southward, the Jura
range, dimpled heights changing the lofty mountain ranges into distance.
The town known to the Romans as _Ledo Salinarius_ and fortified under
their auspices, also a fortified town in the Middle Ages, is dominated
by four hills, conspicuously rising above its undulating environment,
and each of these offers a superb view from the top. My first walk was
to the height of Mont-ciel, _Mons Coelius_ of the Romans, north of the
town, and a delightful walk it is, leading us upward between vineyards
to a broad open space planted with fine trees, and sufficiently large to
afford camping ground for soldiers. From this summit we gain a wonderful
prospect, vineyard, hill, and valley, with villages dotted here and
there, picturesque mediaeval castles crowning many epochs, and far away
the vast plain stretching from the Jura to Burgundy, and the majestic
mountain ranges bounding on either side the east horizon. This walk is
so easy that our little companion of four years old could make it
without fatigue, and there are many others equally delightful, and not
more fatiguing. We rested for awhile on the hill top eating grapes, then
slowly descended, stopping on our way to enter the chapel of the Jesuits
and school-buildings, both commanding a splendid site on the wooded
incline. There were of course women in the confessionals, and painted
images of saints and miracle-workers in abundance, before which people
were kneeling with tiny images hugged to their breasts, like the pagans
of old. Image worship, indeed, idolatry in the purest form, is carried
on to a tremendous extent here, witness the number of images exposed for
sale in the shop-windows.

But the excursion to be made from Lons-le-Saunier is that to the
wonderful rock-shut valley and old Abbey of Baume, Baume-les-Messieurs,
as it is called, to distinguish it from the town of Baume-les-Dames,
near Besancon. This is reached by a delightful drive of an hour and a
half, or easily on foot by good pedestrians, and is on no account to be
omitted. We, of course, take the former course, having two little
fellow-travellers, aged respectively four and two and a half years old,
who, perched on our knees, are as much delighted as ourselves with the
beauty of everything. We soon reach the top of the valley, a deep,
narrow, rock-enclosed valley or gorge, and, leaving our carriage,
prepare to descend on foot. At first sight, the zig-zag path along what
appears to be the perpendicular side of these steep, lofty rocks,
appears perilous, not to say impracticable, but it is neither one nor
the other. This mountain stair-case, called the Echelles de Baume, may
be descended in all security by sure-footed people not given to
giddiness; our driver, leaving his quiet horse for a time, shoulders one
child, my companion shoulders another, I followed with the basket, and
in twenty minutes we are safely landed at the base of the cliffs we had
just quitted, not yet quite knowing how we had got there! These rocky
walls, shutting in the valley, or _combe_, as it is called, so closely
that seldom any ray of sunshine can penetrate, are very lofty, and
encircle it from end to end with majestic effect. It is, indeed, a
winding little islet of green, threaded by a silvery stream, and
rendered naturally impregnable by fortress-like rocks. We rest on the
turf for a while, whilst the children munch their cakes and admire the
noise of the mill opposite to us, and the dazzling waters of the source,
pouring little cascades from the dark mountain-side into the valley. The
grottoes and stalactite caverns of this _combe_ are curious alike within
and without, and in their inmost recesses is a small lake, the depth of
which has never yet been sounded. Both lake and stalactite caves,
however, can only be seen at certain seasons of the year, and then with

The tiny river issuing from the cleft is called the Seille, and very
lovely is the deep, narrow valley of emerald green through which it
murmurs so musically. The mountain gorge opens by little and little as
we proceed, showing velvety pastures where little herdsmen and
herdswomen are keeping their cows; goats, black and white, browse on the
steep rocks as securely as flies on a ceiling, and abundance of trees
grow by the road-side. The valley winds for half a mile to the
straggling village of Baume, and there the stupendous natural
fortifications of cliff and rock come to an end. Nothing finer in the
way of scenery is to be found throughout the Jura than this, and it is
quite peculiar, being unlike any other mountain conformation I have ever
seen, whilst the narrow winding valley of soft gold-green is in
beautiful contrast with the rugged grandeur, not to say savageness, of
its environment.

The buildings of this once important Abbey of Baume are now turned into
a farm-house, but enough remains to bespeak the former magnificence of
this most aristocratic monastery, [Footnote: Consult Roussel's
"Dictionnaire de Franche-Comte" on the subject. It is very voluminous,
but like any other work on Franche-Comte, may be consulted in the public
library of Lons-le-Saunier without trouble or formality.] to which none
could be admitted without furnishing proof of pure degree of nobility on
both the paternal and maternal sides. Adjoining the Abbey is the Church,
which possesses at least one _chef-d'oeuvre_ in its _retable_.

This altar-piece of wood appears to belong to the fifteenth century, and
is in the form of a triptych, the wings being enriched within and
without by paintings in excellent preservation. The interior is divided
into six compartments, in which are represented the various scenes of
the life and passion of Christ. The various figures are finely
sculptured, and covered with gold. Other paintings by the same artist
decorate the walls of the Church.

One tomb, that of an abbe of Baume, is very beautiful, being ornamented
with seven small statuettes of weeping monks, who occupy little gothic
niches. The expression and attitude of these figures are touching in the
extreme. All these monuments are highly interesting, and worthy of being
studied in detail. The Church is disfigured by not a few modern
frivolities and vulgarities.

Many objects illustrating the pre-historic and most ancient periods of
French history have been found at Baume; bronze weapons and ornaments,
Gallo-Roman relics, tombs, statuettes, &c., whilst a Roman camp, the
largest in the Jura, has been traced on the summit of the rocks. This
was destined to protect the road from Lyons to the Rhine, and occupied
the height known as Mount Sermus.

Baume shared the fate of most other ecclesiastical establishments in the
iconoclastic period of the French Revolution, and when we consider what
the pitch of popular fury was then, we are rather tempted to wonder that
anything was left, rather than that so many treasures were destroyed.

Our way home lay through the picturesque valley of the Seille, and past
many places celebrated for their wines or antiquities. Vines, maize,
buckwheat, potatoes, and hay covered the hillside and the plain, whilst
poplar and fruit trees gave abundant shadow. We pass Voiteur, with its
ruins; Chateau Chalon, ancient Celtic _oppidum_, renowned for its wines,
like Tokay, 'veritable Madere sec Francais, genereux,' the Chateau du
Pin, massive donjon perched on a hill, and still habitable, where Henry
IV. sojourned, and other picturesque and interesting sites, reaching
home before dusk. In fine weather the inhabitants of Lons-le-Saunier
frequently make pic-nic parties to Baume, breakfasting in the valley,
but, alas! fine pic-nic weather is as rare in Franche-Comte as in
England this year, and autumn, always sets in early; already the
mornings and evenings are really cold, and a fire would be a luxury. We
do, however, get a fine day now and then, with a few hours of warm
sunshine, and I had one of these for a visit to my friends living in the
neighbourhood, whom I have before mentioned.

This little village in question is captivatingly situated at the foot of
the first Jura range, about a mile from Lons-le-Saunier. As I have
before said, throughout this entire journey, whenever I have spoken of a
mountain it must be understood to mean a mountain of the Jura chain,
which begins here, and only ends at Belfort, where you enter the region
of the Vosges, and all along consists of the same limestone formation,
only here and there a vein of granite being found. My friend's house is
delightful, standing in the midst of orchards, gardens, and vines, the
fine rugged peak called Mont d'Orient--of which he is the owner--rising
above. On a glorious day like this, we, of course, all set off for the
mountain-top, and a wonderfully beautiful climb it was, amid vineyards,
pastures, and groves of walnut trees. The grapes here are, alas!
attacked in many places by the blight _oidium_, and this year the season
has been so wet and cold, that as they must be gathered after the first
white frost, they have no chance of ripening. As a natural result, the
year's wine will be sour, and sold at a considerable loss to the
growers. We stopped on our way to taste the grapes here and there, but
as yet none are ripe, though we are in the last days of September. After
steadily climbing for an hour, we reached the mountain-top, and sat down
to enjoy the view, having in sight on one side the immense plain
stretching from the Jura to the hills of the Cote d'Or, on the other, in
very clear weather, the Jura range and the top of Mont Blanc. Never
shall I forget this charming walk with my host, his son, and daughter,
all three able to give me any information I was in need of concerning
their beloved Franche-Comte. As we returned home by another way through
lovely little woods, dells, and glades, we encountered more than one
sportsman in blue blouse, who got into the covert of the wood as fast as
he could, in quest of thrushes. "A poacher," my host said, shrugging his
shoulders. "Mais que voulez-vous; il y en a tant." Poaching is carried
on so largely that very little game is to be had; the severe penalties
inflicted by the law having little deterrent effect.

My host told me much of interest concerning the peasants and their ways.
The land here belongs to the people, but the rural population is not
wealthy, as in Seine et Marne and other regions. The bad vine seasons
often ruin the farmer, and much improvidence prevails. In many places
the proprietor of a vineyard hires small patches of land to cultivate,
but that avidity in making purchases found elsewhere does not exist
here. Land is cheap, but labour very dear, and the peasant therefore
mistrusts such investments of capital, if he possesses any; and the
liability to the failure in the vine crops necessarily checks enterprise
in that direction.

On our return, we found an excellent _gouter_, as these afternoon
collations are called, substitutes, in fact, for our four o'clock tea.
We drank each other's health after the old fashion with the celebrated
Arbois wine, called _le vin de Paille_, from the process the grape goes
through, being dried in straw before fermentation. This _vin de Paille_
has an exquisite flavour and is very costly and rare, even in these
parts, being chiefly grown by amateurs for themselves. It is clear as
crystal, and yellow as gold. Sorry indeed was I to quit these kind and
charming friends with whom I would gladly have spent many a day. They
had so much to show me--antique furniture, a collection of old French
faience, sketches in oils, the work of my host himself, books on the
history of Franche-Comte, collections, geological and archaeological,
bearing on the history of the country; last, but not least, my
hostess--admirable type of the well-bred Catholic chatelaine of former
days--was an accomplished musician, ready to delight her guest with
selections from Chopin and Schubert, and other favorite composers. But,
however reluctantly on both sides, our adieux had to be made, a promise
being exacted from me to visit Franche-Comte ere long again.

I shall carry away no more agreeable recollection of Eastern France than
this pleasant country home and its occupants in the Jura, father,
mother, young son and daughter, all vying with each other in making my
visit pleasant and profitable. It is touching to be so welcomed, so
taken leave of in the midst of a remote foreign place, all the more so
when there was no Protestantism and Republicanism, only natural liking
and a community of tastes, to bring us together! French Protestants
welcome us English folks--presumably Protestants too--as their kindred,
but let it not be supposed that even in the heart of Catholic regions
like this, we are now generally regarded with abhorrence as aliens from
the true faith--culture, high tastes, and tolerance naturally go hand in

In order to get a good idea of the scenery here the plain must be
visited as well as the mountains, and very beautiful it is as seen from
such eminences as those occupied by the Chateaux de l'Etoile and Arlay;
both excursions to be accomplished in a long afternoon, even with a halt
for _gouter_ at the former place, its owners being friends of my host
and hostess. This modern chateau occupies the site of the old, and
commands wide views on every side, in the far distance the valley of the
Saone and the mountains of the Cote d'Or, with the varied, richly wooded
plain at our feet. The Bresse, as this is called, is not healthy for the
most part, and the population suffer from marsh fever, but it is well
cultivated and very productive; vines grow sparsely in the plain, the
chief crops consisting of corn, maize, beetroot, hemp, &c. A curious
feature of farming in the Bresse is the number of artificial ponds which
are seen in different directions. These ponds are allowed to remain for
four years, and are then filled up, producing very rich crops. In the
meantime a good deal of fish is thus procured. The land is parcelled out
into small farms, the property of small peasant proprietors, as in the
vineyard regions of the Jura. After having admired one prospect after
another, hill and valley, wood and pine forest, far off mountain ranges
and wide purple plain, we were of course not permitted to go away
without tasting the famous wine for which the _Etoile_ is celebrated,
and other good things. Useless it is to protest upon these occasions,
not only once, but twice and even thrice you are compelled, in spite of
remonstrances, to partake, and glasses are touched after the old
fashion. We then quitted our kind host and hostess of this airy perch,
and continued our journey, still in the Plains, to Arlay, a village.
dominated by the majestic ruins of an old feudal castle, standing in the
midst of fine old trees worthy of an English park.

Arlay was built in the ninth century by Gerard de Boussillon, and now
belongs to the Prince d'Aremberg whose handsome modern chateau lies at
its foot. The Prince of Aremberg is one of the largest landowners in
France, and we were told had not visited this splendid possession for
ten years.

Many other no less interesting excursions are to be made from
Lons-le-Saunier, but I am a belated traveller, overtaken by autumn rains
and chills, and must hasten on my way. September and October are often
glorious months in the Jura, but it is safest to come sooner, and then
picnics innumerable can be made, and fine weather relied upon from day
to day. The town itself is cheerful, but offers little of interest to
the tourist, beyond the _salines_, or salt-works, which, however, are on
a much smaller scale than at Salins, and one or two other objects of
interest. A curious feature in its architecture are the arcades in the
streets, similar to those at Arbois, and some other old towns in
Franche-Comte, relics of the Spanish occupation. There is also an
unmistakeable Spanish element to be found in the population, witness the
black eyes, and hair, and dark rich complexions of a type common enough
here, yet quite distinct from that of the true French stock. The people
as a rule are well-made, stalwart, and good-looking, polite to
strangers, and very voluble in conversation.

If the antiquities of Lons-le-Saunier are insignificant, no one can
fail, however, to be struck with the handsome public buildings, chiefly
modern, which are on a scale quite magnificent for a town of only eleven
thousand inhabitants. The hospital, the caserne, or barracks, the lycee,
the ecole normale, the bank, all these are large enough and magnificent
enough, one would suppose, for any but the largest provincial towns; the
streets are spacious, and the so-called Grande Place, in the centre of
the town, is adorned by a fine statue of General Lecourbe, where
formerly stood a statue of Pichegru; this was presented by Charles X. to
the municipality in 1826, and broken by the townspeople in 1830. The
gardens of the hospital are adorned by a bust of the great anatomist,
Bichat, whose birth-place, like that of Homer, is disputed.
Bourg-en-Bresse disputes the honour with Lons-le-Saunier, and Bourg


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