Marvel in the streets of Dole
In the north of the Jura, Dole lost its title of prefecture in favor of Lons-le-Saunier. But, this spot still has plenty to offer! This "declassified" capital, which welcomed the Counts of Burgundy and saw the birth of Louis Pasteur in 1822, (you can visit his house on the way), the Doubs is run throu with canals. The one that goes from the Rhine to the Rhône is presided over by pleasure barges, and the Canal of of the Tanners has changed a lot--happily. The tanning industry here, which gave off strong odors, was abandoned a century ago. You can now walk around scent-free, following the 4-kilometer (2.5 mile) "perched cat circuit", along the flowered banks bordered by tall Franche-Comté houses or in the alleys of the city center dotted with 48 historical monuments! Keep the bell tower of the Notre-Dame collegiate church as its lighthouse, which teases the sky from its 73 meters height. To make sure you don't miss anything, take to the water with Une Belle Aventure, boarding an authentic Venetian water taxi from 1963. Seen from the canals, Dole is deliciously romantic.
We go south with the "train of swallows"
123 kms (76 miles) in 2:25; that's what you call taking your time! The TER train, which goes along the so-called line of swallows," takes its time, but, the spectacle is worth it. Beyond the panoramic windows, the most beautiful Jura landscapes pass by. From Dole, 10 stations, 36 tunnels and 18 viaducts leapfrog to the terminus in Saint-Claude, in the very south of the Jura. Along the way, excursions allow you to get some fresh air: in the Chaux forest you can hike to meet foxes, deer and wild boar or in the Joux forest to admire the giant spruces; in Château-Chalon, one of the most beautiful villages in France, set as a sentinel on the edge of a cliff, stroll through the vineyards that produce the unique "yellow wine"; or in Salins-les-Bains. In the bowels of the village, the underground saltworks, listed as a Unesco heritage site, testify that in the past, salt had (almost) as much value as gold.
We hike in the forest with the dogs
Morbier is not just the name of a Jura cheese--it is also one of the "swallow line" stopover villages, ideal for taking in some fresh air. A professional musher, Alexis Champion leads a pack of 22 huskies and alaskans in this village. In winter, he glides tourists around the Jura's scenery on dogsleds. The rest of the year, he organizes cani-randos, green walks in meadows and forests accompanied by dogs. After initial contact with the animals, each hiker is fitted with a comfortable belt, and connected to the animal by a lanyard. Excited by the call of the great outdoors, the dogs run like athletes, ready to go on the first mush. Allons-y!
Depending on the dog (calm or energetic) and the route chosen (flat or hilly), the walk is more or less challenging, punctuated by stops to appreciate the wild French landscapes. After the startling rush, the magic of the great outdoors will take hold of you, not disturbed, but enhanced by the wind in the trees and the panting of the dogs.
Take in fresh air in the Haut-Jura regional park
Around the resort of Les Rousses, there are a thousand ways to keep fit! The "Vélo Jurassic Tour" invites you to explore the Haut-Jura regional park bye hopping on an electric mountain bike, through about fifty loops of 15 to 60 kilometers (9 miles to 37 miles). From trails to forest roads, between lakes and waterfalls, the bike allows you to overcome all difficulty levels; for example, around the lake of Rousses or the high-flying the Hautes-Combes route. On these high plateaus culminating at more than 1000 meters (3280 feet), puncutated by a few isolated farms, the meadows stretch out as far as the eye can see, with only the summits of the Jura as the horizon. Guide Tédi shares his passion for the local fauna as he conducts his walks. No lynx or chamois in sight today, but you can spot the Montbéliard cows whose bells's jingle echoes through the hills! With his friend Gaël, Tédi suggests ending the walk with a snack--enjoyed while perched high in the trees! You have to climb 6 to 8 meters (19 to 26 feet) abseiling--always harnessed--to reach the table installed in the branches. A little altitude makes the flavors all the sweeter!
Taste the local culture
Trapper's hut, treehouse, or trailer ... Les Loges du Coinchet, 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from Saint-Claude, offers unusual accommodations tucked deep in nature. From there, you can explore the Haut Jura, full of rustic hamlets and bell towers of bulb-shaped churches, to learn about the local culture. In the former military fort of Les Rousses, 135,000 county grindstones are refined with ease (and with a strong smell of ammonia)! At Chez Féodor altitude bar, you can taste spruce beer and smokehouse cuisine that're unique to the region. Wood is the other wealth of the area, which is ususally cut into cubic meters or processed on site. In Moirans-en-Montagne, you can visit the adorable toy museum, or visit the Vilac toy company, a testament to local know-how since 1911 (it's also ideal for an eco-responsible gift)! In Saint-Claude, check out the amazing pipes. After the pipe museum, make a detour to the Genod Viou workshop or the Chacom factory to treat youreslf to a smoking souvenir.