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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.