Waterfalls of the Herisson in the French Jura
Fort de Joux in Franche Comté, France
A weekend in the mountains
The Jura mountain is characterised by its abundance of water: torrents, waterfalls, countless small springs that alternate with the calm waters of a multitude of lakes and pools.
The detours of this route offer an often untouched landscape and a splendid array of colours.
You will leave Saint-Claude, in the heart of the Haut-Jura Regional Nature Park, and loop around the lakes before returning 3 days later.
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Your Jura tour starts in Saint-Claude, in the centre of the Haut-Jura Regional Nature Park. Tucked into the mountain, crammed tight, it has evolved in a beautiful location at the confluence of Biel and Tacon rivers. Of course, there is the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre and the narrow lanes, but the museum devoted to what made the town world famous, the craftsmanship of pipe making, is also a must see.
Leave Saint-Claude after lunch, heading towards the gorges du Flumen followed by Les Rousses. Fort des Rousses, unimpressive at first sight, hides a labyrinth of underground tunnels that could hold up to 3,000 men! You can make a detour by the village, but take the road to La Cure, towards Bois-d’Amont where a former sawmill now houses the Boissellerie Museum. Next, head to the Swiss border to reach Le Brassus. Turn right towards the Col du Marchairuz, where you have a breathtaking view of Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva.
For lovers of architecture, there is one curiosity worth seeing before your arrival in Champagnole: a copy, incongruous in its location, of an Italian villa, the Château de Syam or Villa Palladienne. From La Billaude, head in the direction of Syam. This detour also offers the opportunity to admire the Billaude, waterfall after a brisk 30 minutes on foot.
You should spend the night in Champagnole.
MyTripTailor advice : during the climb up to Col du Marchairuz, choose any small side road to find a farm selling real Swiss cheese
Leave Champagnole early in the morning towards Marigny and Lake Chablain.
On the plateau of Champagnole begins a string of lakes, each different to the next. Take the car back to Doucier, Songeson and Menétrux-en-Joux. In Ilay, get back on foot for the impressive succession of Hérisson (a small stream) waterfalls: the Cascade de l’Éventail, a genuine wall of water falling in successive stages from a height of 65 meters, the Cascade du Grand Saut, where you pass behind the fall, the Saut de la Forge, and many others that you can admire by taking the cliff path.
From Ilay, it’s also possible to reach the hamlet of Narlay and from there, the Belvedere of the Four Lakes, from where you can discover the lakes of Ilay, Narlay, and Maclu, large and small.
By late afternoon arrive in Clairvaux-les-Lacs where art lovers can view the carved stalls (15th C) from the Abbey of Baume-les-Messieurs and the paintings of 18th century masters. From Clairvaux, take the return road to the Lac de Vouglans via Soucia, Meussia, Coyron and La Tour-du-Meix. The Pyle Bridge which crosses this artificial lake, offers an excellent vantage point.
Next, enter into the Gorges de l’Ain as far as Poncin, where you can spend your second night.
MyTripTailor Tip : Make sure you’re wearing good walking shoes when you take on the waterfalls.
It’s your last day! Leave Poncin and take the road to Oyonnax, as far as Montréal-La-Cluse and reach Nantua. Its Saint-Michel Abbey is the most important Romanesque building of the Ain and preserves the remains of a 12th century Benedictine abbey destroyed during the Revolution. Enter to discover its treasures: the superb network of arcature mouldings of the Renaissance vault, beautiful marble angels and a superb Eugène Delacroix.
Continue with a visit to the Museum of History of Resistance and Deportation in the former prison where resistance fighters were once imprisoned.
Next, leave Nantua to the east via a road that crosses forests and moors, then along the Lac de Sylans. Embedded in a deep, narrow valley, the lake benefits from very little sunshine, particularly at the end of summer. Until around the 1920s, its ice was heavily harvested during winter to supply the big cities.
Finally, you cross Saint-Germain-de-Joux, Échallon, Belleydoux and the Col de la Croix de la Serra before returning to Saint-Claude.
Mytriptailor tip: don’t forget to taste the famous quenelles in Nantua!
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