CHAPTER VI. BESANCON AND ITS ENVIRONS.
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!