Jura Rivers and Valleys
One of the great attractions of the Jura is the impressive and constantly varying scenery of its valleys, the best known of which are the Ain, Doubs, Dessoubre, Loue and Valserine. Visitors to the Jura should make a point of exploring some of these valleys or the V-shaped transverse valleys known as reculées.
The reculées are the V-shaped transverse valleys which are found, for example on the Cuisance, the Seille and the Vallière. They extend from Arbois by way of the Cirque de Baume to Lons-le-Saunier and Pont-de-Poitte, a road distance of some 80km/50mi. These very attractive valleys cut their way through the hills to end in a cirque or corrie with sheer rock faces which often contain caves. The Reculée des Planches or Reculée d'Arbois, southeast of that town, contains the two sources of the river Cuisance and ends in the impressive Cirque du Fer à Cheval. Another striking cirque is the Cirque de Ladoye; but the finest of all is the Cirque de Baume, with fantastic views from its crags. From the top of the crags a steep path runs down to the caves at the foot, formed by a former source of the river Dard, which after heavy rain still emerges here in the form of a waterfall. The amphitheater-like Creux de Revigny, between Lons-le-Saunier and Pont-de-Poitte, also contains many caves.
The little Dessoubre is very different from the majestic valley of the Doubs, which rises near Mouthe (alt. 937m/3,074ft) and flows into the Saône after a winding course of 430km/265mi, though the distance as the crow flies is only 90km/55mi. The road runs down the upper valley from the source to Morteau, through the impressive Doubs gorges to Montbéliard, and from there to Besançon, after which the Doubs leaves the Jura Languedoc-Roussillon near Dole. Among the principal attractions on this road are the gorge of Cluse-et-Mijoux (of which there is a fine view from Les Rosiers); the Lac de Chaillexon, with a 28m/90ft high waterfall; the Echelles de la Mort; the Corniche de Goumois, near the Swiss frontier, with magnificent views of the mountains; and the little town of L'Isle-sur-le- Doubs, divided by the river into three parts.
The Loue was often painted by Courbet; and indeed, with its tree-lined banks, it is a very picturesque river, which is also attractive to canoeists. From its source at Ouhans it follows a winding course to its junction with the Doubs. Its main attractions are the source itself, in a large cave, which has been shown to be connected with the Doubs, its numerous viewpoints like the Moine de la Vallée and Mouthier, and the Nouailles gorges. The stretch between Cléron and the mouth of the Lison is particularly attractive.
The valley of the Ain traverses the Jura for a distance of 190km/120mi, with a succession of rapids, waterfalls and picturesque gorges. Possible routes are down the upper valley of the river from Nozeroy (near its source) to its junction with the Saine, or along the lakes formed by a series of dams between Pont-de-Poitte and Poncin, a distance of some 100km/60mi.
The Valserine is a high valley of great romantic charm, extending for some 60km/37mi from the Col de la Faucille to Bellegarde, where it flows into the Rhône. On either side of the valley rise the highest peaks in the Jura, with expanses of mountain pasture between them. A striking feature is the Pont des Pierres, which spans the river between Montanges and Mulaz in a single arch 80 m/260ft wide. The finest viewpoint is at Mijoux, on the way up to the Col de la Faucille.
The Dessoubre is a very attractive river, less well known than the other Jura rivers, which flows into the Doubs at St-Hippolyte. There is a pleasant drive of 30km/19mi from the Cirque de Consolation, in which the river rises, to the junction with the Doubs. In the cirque is the former monastery of Notre- Dame de Consolation. The best view of the cirque is to be had from the "Priest's Rock".
The name Source du Lison covers the actual source of the Lison, the Grotte Sarrazine and the Creux Billard: three interesting natural features which are all linked with one another, partly by underground channels.