This has been an amazing ascent of the Doubs River, with gorgeous tracks through the woods, gravel roads, and occasional pieces of pavement.
We had lunch with Gérard Cattin, the secretary general of the Association of the Park Naturel du Doubs, a newly founded organization to establish a protected region encompassing both sides of the French-Swiss border. It is.truly magnificent country, far less known than it deserves.
Monsieur Cattin explained that the concept for a protected region began in 1997, and his association was launched in 2005, though it wasn't until 2009 that the federal government decided to support it. Now there is funding, and Cattin is working to build the plan. It is due in 2012, and will define this region for another ten years. Among his goals is establishing a series of interpretive centers to promote the highlights of the region. They include one on the importance of water here, which contrasts the dryness of the high country above us with the river valley we're in.
There's one on the flora, one on the fauna (which includes the lynx, newly reestablished), one on the horse (central to agriculture in the land above our gorge), and one on time. Time because we're now entering the region where farmers started taking in extra income with piecework making watches. Soon the watchmaking industry became a major employer in this region.
Now they're working to preserve and protect the regional culture, promote sustainable development, and educate people about the local environment.
I sure hope they succeed in their objectives, because our day's cycling has taken us down some of the most beautiful trails we've seen.