Le Centre-Est de France
The Central East of France is composed of two distinct regions.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, bordered to the east by the Jura Mountains and Switzerland in eastern France, is renowned for red Burgundy wine, Comté cow’s milk cheese, and famed Dijon mustard, named for the region’s capital of Dijon.
Just south, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is bordered by the Alps of Switzerland and Italy to the east. The area surrounding the region’s capital Lyon is filled with Gallo-Roman history, a culinary culture, and nature preserves.
In 2016, France undertook a bold restructuring. Two of its former regions, Bourgogne and Franch-Comté into a single region comprised of 8 departments filled with medieval towns and villages, picturesque rivers, canals, and nature reserves, flourishing pastures and vineyards. Another merger took place in the southeast of France, where the regions of mountainous Auvergne joined prolific Rhône-Alpes into one region comprised of 12 departments. This area offers a tapestry of extinct volcanos and meandering tributaries of two main rivers, the Loire and the Rhône.
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City Préfecture (Departement)
- Dijon, regional capital (Côte d’Or)
- Auxerre (Yonne)
- Nevers (Nièvre)
- Mâcon (Saône et Loire)
- Vesoul (Haute Saône)
- Lons le Saunier (Jura)
- Besançon (Doubs)
- Belfort (Territoire de Belfort)
Cities of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
In the area of Bourgogne, the Palace of the Dukes is a highlight of Dijon, the largest city. Other popular towns include Auxerre along the Yonne River, Beaune with its cobbled-stone streets, Mâcon on the Saône River, Autun with Gallo-Roman ruins, and medieval Semur-en-Auxois. Visit archaeologic sites and prehistoric caves in the Jura Mountains, ancient stilted lake dwellings on Lac de Chalain et de Clairvaux, medieval abbeys such as the Romanesque monasteries of Cluny and Abbaye de Fontenay, and le Corbusier’s modern icon, Chapelle de Ronchamp.
See the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté tourism pages.
Photo by Ali Giaudrone
The area from Rhône-Alpes includes 3 major cities: Lyon, Grenoble, and Saint-Étienne, which along with Chambéry and Annecy make up the region’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Historic Gallo-Roman ruins dot the land such as those in the town of Vienne. This region, known for gastronomy and wine production of Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône, is filled with stunning natural beauty. Lakes, hills, mountains, and gorges include notable Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), Lac du Bourget, Lac d’Annecy, Gorges de l’Ardèche, as well as the highest peak in the Alps, Mont Blanc. This region hosted 3 Winter Olympics at Chamonix, Grenoble, and Albertville.
Oak forests of Forêt de Tronçais, pastures, lakes, and ponds fill the rural area of Auvergne between the northern hills and southern dormant volcanic landforms of the Massif Central in the Monts Dore and the Chaîne des Puys mountain ranges.