I don’t know if it was the fact that I was deliriously happy to be traveling again or if I’m just meant for camping life, but I just aced my first night in a tent. Both a relief and a revelation! So well-rested and armed with new knowledge (on my part), we packed up our stuff and hit the road to really start our trip. Destination; Jura!
This time our roadtrip focused on the lesser discovered regions in France. The Jura region is mostly known for its vineyards, lakes and low mountain ranges, but none of those sights were apparently impressive enough to make this region a tourist attraction. Time to check out if that’s just or not.
From Troyes it was another 250 kilometers to our first stop of the day, so it was about lunchtime when we arrived in Arbois.
What lured me to this city were the town river views and its bell tower. Nature was our priority for this trip, but since you have to make a stop every once in a while on a long drive anyway, it’s nice to do it in a nice town like this. It was the perfect stop to stretch our legs and check out this views, but it’s nothing too much to write home about.
So on we went; to Baume-les-Messieurs. This town is ranked as one of the most beautiful villages in France, but that’s mostly due to its location. Dab smack in the middle of 200 meter high limestone cliffs. Not too shabby! We first drove to the town itself, enjoyed a drink and wine-flavored ice cream (for real!) in a local café and wandered through the Baume Abbey. A pretty, cute place that’s definitely worth the stop. But our main interest was the view from the end of the valley. So we hopped back in the car and drove up to the other side of the valley to witness the gorgeous view on the cliffs and the village from up there. Marvellous!
We also wanted to see the falls in the valley, le cascade des tuffs, so back down we had to go! But instead of driving all the way back, we had decided to hike back down. It’s only about a kilometer, but it is quite steep. And it would have been worth it, if it wasn’t that the fall was drier than dead dingo’s donger. That was to be expected mid-september, after a dry summer, but quite a bummer nonetheless.
Slightly disappointed we hiked back up, got back into the car and drove to our only hotel we’d be staying at during the trip; Hotel des Lacs in Chaux-des-Crotenay. A nice budget hotel but I kind of regret not sticking to the tent for that night as well. We had booked the hotel before departure and I was still unaware of how easy camping in France was. Nonetheless it was easier to change our outfits in a room instead of in tangle of limbs in a tent.
And the outfit change was necessary as for our next activity we got our racing bikes out of the van again. I’ve been riding my bike quite a lot the last couple of months, but this would be my first encounter with some steep uphill parts. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. But the prospect of beautiful lake and forest views made me brave, so off we went! From Chaux-des-Crotenay we rode to Le Frasnois and the Four Lakes area with our furthest point the Lac de Chalain.
All went pretty smooth – read: downhill – until there but then it was time to get the blood pumping. It was uphill most of the way back. But I managed and really enjoyed this ride through the low mountains of the Jura.
Since Chaux-des-Crotenay doesn’t really offer much, we had to get back into our car to restock our energy levels. We were pretty damn hungry after that bike ride, so the first open restaurant we passed was what we went for; Le Mikado. A pizza place along the N5 with cheap and delicious pizza’s, but mediocre and really expensive sides.
The rest of our evening was spent in the bar of our hotel, but since we were the only two people there, it didn’t end up being a really late night. But that meant we could rise and shine early and start our next day in the Jura well-rested.
Our first stop of the day were the Cascades and Gorges de la Languette. Unlike at the cascade de tuffs, there was some water flowing there; thank god! Due to the early hour we were the only two people on site which made it so much nicer. I just love having a piece of nature all to myself.
Our next plan was to start the drive to the next region of our trip, the Haut-Savoie, but considering the weather forecast wasn’t that amazing over there and slightly better in the Jura, we decided not to hurry in that direction.With no actual plan, we just started our drive and figured we’d bump into something eventually.
And that something came in the form of a dome on top of a mountain. The sight popped up in front of us from the road and both our minds immediately went: ‘Why not hike to that dome and see what’s up there?’. A little check on our app Maps.me to check the distances and the altimeters (always a good idea when you want to do something on a whim!) and less than half an hour later we had strapped on our hiking boots and were on our way to the top of what was La Dôle, a mountain that’s actually on Swiss territory. We had crossed a border, folks!
The higher we climbed, the more the area behind us opened up and showed its beauty. The rolling hills of the Jura!
After about an hour and 500 altimeters, we reached the top! Sadly, the weather on the other side of the mountain wasn’t that great and the view was mostly obstructed by grey clouds. On a clear day you can see the Lake Geneva and lots of Swiss mountain tops. But that wasn’t in our cards that day. Nonetheless we had fun and in the end, that’s what it’s all about, right?
With that, we left the beautiful Jura behind us, and drove to what would end up being one of the highlights of our trip; the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval. But more on that next time!