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This is why you should visit the Jura Mountains

PUBLISHED: 14:45 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:45 01 November 2017

The glorious Valserine valley in the Jura Mountains ©Franck Charel

The glorious Valserine valley in the Jura Mountains ©Franck Charel

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Beautiful mountain valleys, good food and easy access – the Jura Mountains should be your next holiday destination in France

1. Breathtaking mountains without the high altitude

Located north of the Alps, the Jura range is a natural eastern border with Switzerland spread across Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The mountains there are topped with forests and rise dramatically to create impressive valleys. The tallest summit, Crêt de la Neige, reaches 1,720m, making it a very easy range to explore, particularly with families.

The pretty valley near the village of Champfromier in the Ain departmentThe pretty valley near the village of Champfromier in the Ain department

2. Beautiful scenery to see

Other than the mountains, the land is dotted with blue lakes (including one of France’s largest lake, Lac St-Point), bucolic valleys, winding roads and green forests. A few minutes’ drive in the mountains will deliver a variety of landscapes, shaped by rivers, summits and pastures.

Stroll in the sleepy streets of Baume-les-Messieurs in Jura, FranceStroll in the sleepy streets of Baume-les-Messieurs in Jura, France

3. Take a stroll in charming villages

As a farming and agricultural land, the Jura Mountains also boast beautiful little villages that remain very rural and unspoilt. The Plus Beau Village of Baume-les-Messieurs, for instance, lies at the bottom of a steep valley and is home to a beautiful 9th-century abbey.

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Visit the Château de Joux in Doubs, FranceVisit the Château de Joux in Doubs, France

4. Plenty of historical landmarks to visit

There’s plenty of history too. Make sure you visit the Château de Joux which is impressive enough to look at from the bottom of the high rocky outcrop it sits upon. Step further back in prehistoric times and visit the caves at Baume-les-Messieurs or the Grottes du Cerdon.

Comté cheese is a local specialty in the Jura Mountains ©F.JOLY / CNIELComté cheese is a local specialty in the Jura Mountains ©F.JOLY / CNIEL

5. Hearty food

Straddling Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes means that the Jura mountains have a rich gastronomy to sustain people during the cold winters the area is known for. Local produce includes plenty of cheese and charcuterie, Bresse chicken and Morteau sausages.

Cerdon is a sparkling rosé produced in the Bugey valley in Ain, FranceCerdon is a sparkling rosé produced in the Bugey valley in Ain, France

6. Varied wines

The Jura produces wines such as Côtes du Jura, Château-Chalon or Crémant du Jura. But you can also find a delicious sparkling rosé called Cerdon in the southern part of the area.

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Taste absinthe at the Fils d'Emile Pernot distillery near PontarlierTaste absinthe at the Fils d'Emile Pernot distillery near Pontarlier

7. Home of absinthe!

Perhaps one of the more fascinating products from the area is absinthe. The once-illicit, highly alcoholic ‘green fairy’ was mass produced in Pontarlier in the 19th century until it was banned in 1915. Only since 2011 is the drink no longer illegal to produce in France and you can now visit some of the historic distilleries, such as Les Fils d’Emile Pernot in La Cluse-et-Mijoux, and, most importantly, have a taste.

Via ferrata ascent in the Jura Mountains with the Rhône River belowVia ferrata ascent in the Jura Mountains with the Rhône River below

8. Outdoor activities galore

As a lower mountain range, Jura has so many options to enjoy the great outdoors. You can cycle and hike in the mountains and climb up vertical rock faces. You can swim, canoe and sail on the lakes. Even go on a roadtrip on the twisty mountain roads or go horse riding in the countryside. In the winter, you can ski down the family-friendly slopes.

Visit the Espace des Mondes Polaires museum and ice rinkVisit the Espace des Mondes Polaires museum and ice rink

9. Culture fix

It’s not just the great outdoors, you’ll find plenty of interesting museums and heritage sites to visit. Discover the latest scientific research on the poles in the Espaces des Mondes Polaires and then go ice skating on their brand new ice rink! Visit the Musée de la Lunette, where you will find out about Jura’s world-renown glasses production.

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