Bicycle Touring through Jura, France
In 2011 we did our last bike touring trip as a family through Jura in France (all future family holidays were to be backpacking). It had lots of waterfalls, grottos and quite a few lakes, using a few records I’ve written up a quick account for you to enjoy. I somehow lost a chunk of the photos so these are some of the few that remain.
Jura is a French Department (like English counties I believe) in Eastern France, if you were to look at the map it would be slap bang in the middle of the Eastern border, with a tiny corner bordering on Switzerland. The name Jura comes from the Jura mountain range. The department starts with rolling foothill vineyards which is where we spent most of our time, then rises up into the mountains.
A theme throughout these holiday photos seems to be reflections, this bridge was during the first day after leaving the airport at Dole. The stormy clouds were quite imposing but I don’t remember there being a serious downpour, on that day at least.
Jura is famous for its ‘grottos’, along with Comte cheese, beautiful landscapes and lakes. This grotto is called ‘Grotte des Planches’ and about 5km from Arbois, where we were camping that night. The grotto was discovered in 1813 but only explored in the early 1900’s. There is something oppressing about being deep under the ground in a cave that is only beautiful because of the thousands of years it’s been closed off to man. This grotto sometimes has a river tumbling along the bottom but its existence is completely seasonal and dependent on rain/snow.
Next, we camped at a campsite alongside Lac de Saint-Point, one of France’s largest natural lakes, its popular for water sports and relaxing.
There is a lot to be said for taking a rest day occasionally on holidays where you are constantly active and so that is what we did, the decision was helped along by the beautiful lake and relaxing atmosphere. We spent the day walking around the lake and came across this bridge at the furthermost end where it gradually turned back into a river.
I’ve got a thing for waterfalls, despite this one being man-made is still shows how easy it is for water to become dangerously strong and easy to pull your feet from underneath you. From what I remember this one was pretty high up a valley that was used at some point for generating hydroelectric power.
The next few days we spent near Hérisson, home to Cascades de la Hérisson a series of beautiful waterfalls that fall 300 meters over a distance of 3km. Herisson means hedgehog in French and (this is me making logical sense) comes from the waterfalls being frozen in winter and representing the spiky animal. As with any waterfall the best time to visit is after a heavy rainfall, we visited after not much rain but there was plenty to make a good display.
Another of the Herisson Cascades, this one is Cascade de L’Eventail and falls 65 meters. I really have to revisit it mid-winter to see everything frozen.
We were cycling along and crested a hill to see these clouds stretching into the distance. They’re known as ‘wave clouds’ due to the shape looking like small rolling waves. I dislike stopping on a heavily laden touring bike but I thought it was worth pulling over to take a photo.
A perfect reflection, the lake is called Lac de l’Abbaye though I don’t remember seeing the abbey as we went past.
The waterfall rainbow is a photo I’m proud of, we were cycling along the base of a valley and the road took a sharp turn over a river. I saw parking and instantly hoped it was a waterfall, then I saw the sign but my parents weren’t happy about stopping. So I hopped off and ran a short way up a path whilst they begrudgingly stopped as well. I took a few photos and ran back, it is one of my regrets that I have no idea where that waterfall is.
The next stop was a small town somewhere between Herisson and Dole, I waited with the bikes in the town centre whilst the others went off to get food. There was the typical French fountain but it didn’t look appealing enough to photograph, instead my attention was caught by a splodge of colour some distance away. I walked over and ignoring the odd stares of the people bustling by, knelt down and took a photo.
Comté is a delicious cheese made in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France, consisting of four departments, including Jura. The photo is of how the cheese is matured, though of course, these are an example as the real deal is in a controlled maturing climate to ensure it reaches perfection.
The final grotto we visited before going home, this one was more focused around stalagmites (rising from the floor) and stalactites (hanging from the ceiling). The quality is abysmal due to being deep underground and not quite brave enough to use my camera flash in a group of people! I think that the blurry vibrant yellow/orange adds to the atmosphere.
The final route – the last few days are missing and I have no way of knowing the route we took back to the airport. I imagine it follows a similar pattern to the first half of the holiday, so meanders gradually back up to Dole.