Jura Mountains Attractions

Jura MountainsJura Mountains

The Jura is the range of folded mountains lying northwest of the Swiss Alps and extending from Geneva to Schaffhausen. This is the central area of the Swiss watchmaking industry but, lying as it does on the periphery of the country, has so far played a relatively minor part in the Swiss tourist trade. For this reason it is popular with nature lovers.

Jura - Driving tour (Basel to Lake Geneva)

The road from Basle to Lake Geneva (through the Jura) runs through the beautiful Birs valley and after 41km/25mi arrives at Delémont). From here the road to Biel continues south through the picturesque narrow Val Moutier, which the River Birs has carved through the limestone rock. From Choindez the road continues to Moutier.

Moutier

Moutier (alt. 532 m/1,745ft; pop. 8,900), was a former center of medieval monastic culture with watchmaking and manufacture of machine tools. Southwest of the town is the interesting Romanesque chapel of Chalières with ornate frescoes (ca. 1020).
The road then runs through a picturesque defile, the Gorges de Court, and continues through the villages of Court, Malleray-Bévilard and Reconvilier (731 m/2,398ft; pop. 2,600; important horse fair), birthplace of the famous clown known as Grock (Adrian Wettach, 1880-1959), to Tavannes (757 m/2,484ft; pop. 4,000), near the source of the Birs. From here the road ascends to the Pierre Pertuis.

Fine Arts Museum

Paintings, engravings, photographs and sculptures by local, Swiss and foreign contemporary artists.
Address: Rue Centrale 4, CH-2740 Moutier, Switzerland

Braderie Prévôtoise

This popular two-day festival takes place in mid-August.

Pierre Pertuis

From Pierre Pertuis the road ascends through a passage through the rock 12 m/39ft high and 8 m/26ft wide (Roman inscription), and then down to Sonceboz (656 m/2,152ft; pop. 1,370), where the railroad line from Biel to La Chaux-de-Fonds branches off.

St Imie

The Basle to Lake Geneva route runs through the Vallon de St-Imier, the valley of the River Suze, to St-Imier (814 m/2,671ft; pop. 6,300), an important watchmaking capital, with a 12th C. Romanesque church and the Tour de la Reine Berthe, a remnant of the Romanesque church of St Martin. Cableway up the Mont Soleil (1,290 m/4,332ft). From here there is a direct road to Neuchâtel (30km/19mi), past Le Chasseral (1,610 m/5,282ft; hotel), from which there are beautiful panoramic views. The main road continues to La Chaux-de-Fonds.

St Imier - Longines Museum

A collection recalling the history of the Longines Company from 1832 to present day that includes watches and navigational instruments.
Address: Compagnie des Montre, CH-2610 St Imier, Switzerland

Lac des Brenets

From La Chaux-de-Fonds an attractive excursion can be made via Le Locle (9km/6mi) and the Col des Roches (917 m/3,009ft), 5km/3mi beyond which is the watchmaking village of Les Brenets (849 m/2,786ft; pop. 1,200), situated above the Lac des Brenets (753 m/2,471ft). The lake (length 4km/ 2mi, breadth 100-200 m/328-656ft, area 0.69 sq. km/0.27 sq. mi), enclosed by sandstone crags, is a natural formation on the River Doubs, which here forms the frontier between Switzerland and France.

Saut du Doubs (waterfall)

From Lac des Brenets it is a 15-minute trip by motorboat or a 45-minute walk to the Hôtel du Doubs, from which a five-minute climb leads to a viewpoint opposite the Saut du Doubs, a waterfall 27 m/89ft high. Immediately downstream from the Lac de Brenets is the Lac de Moron (4.5km/3mi long).

Val de Travers (asphalt mines)

14km/9mi southwest of the Col des Roches we come to La Brévine (1,046 m/3,432ft; pop. 700), and a further 14km/9mi south, in the Val de Travers, Fleurier (743 m/2,438ft; pop. 4,100). To the east of Travers it is a 30-minute round trip to former asphalt mines, (in operation until 1986), where natural asphalt, a mixture of bitumen and mineral (chiefly chalk), was mined.

Ste Croix

14km/9mi southwest of Fleurier the town of Ste-Croix (1,092 m/3,583ft; pop. 5,300), famous for its musical boxes, lies in a valley on the slopes of Le Chasseron (1,611 m/5,286ft).
Below the road from Ste-Croix to Vuiteboef wheel tracks can be seen in the rock of the old Roman road. The road from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Neuchâtel (22km/14mi) runs past the Vue des Alpes (9km/6mi; 1283 m/4,210ft; inn), from which there is a beautiful panorama of the Alps (Mont Blanc).

Musical Box Museum, L'Auberson

Musical Box Museum in L'Auberson has a variety of music boxes, musical clocks, and gramophones on display, many of which can still be played. The collection was started by the three Baud brothers in 1946.

Museum of Musical Automata

Some 19km/12mi west of Yverdon in Ste-Croix, an interesting collection of musical automata, musical boxes and mechanical musical instruments can be seen in the Centre International de la Méchanique d'Art CIMA, at 2 rue de l'Industrie.

Chasseron

The Chasseron summit (1,607m/5,272ft) is 3km/2mi from Ste Croix and affords a vast panorama of the Alps, the Swiss Jura and Lake Neuchâtel.

Saint Croix - Museum of Arts and Sciences

Locals have built the Museum of Arts and Sciences with their own findings, antiques, handicrafts, history and other treasures.
Address: 10 avenue des Alpes, CH-1450 Saint-Croix, Switzerland

Music Box Museum

A demonstration of wind-up automatons, toys and musical boxes.

La Sarraz

Southwest of the Lac de Neuchâtel, via Orbe, is La Sarraz (488 m/1,601ft; pop. 1,000), with a massive 11th C. castle which was given its present form in the 16th C.
As part of the project "Renovation 2000" the castle is undergoing extensive restoration (opening hours given). In the former parish church of St-Antoine (now the Town Hall) can be seen the tomb of Count François de la Sarraz (d.1363).

Horse Museum

The Musée Cheval in La Sarraz has an exhibition of working, draught and riding horses as well as horses of the army and in art.
Address: Château de la Sarraz, CH-1315 La Sarraz, Switzerland

Romainmotier

Northwest of La Sarraz, on a by-road to the left of road 9, is the old-world little town of Romainmôtier (658 m/2,159ft) which has a monastery founded in the fifth C. and dissolved in 1537.

Abbey of St-Pierre and St-Paul

The Abbey Church of St-Pierre et St-Paul in the little town of Romainmôtier, built under the direction of St Odilo of Cluny in the 10th-11th C. and reconstructed in the 12th-14th C., is one of the oldest and most important ecclesiastical buildings in the country. The Romanesque monastery church has valuable 14th/15th C. frescoes.

Lac de Joux

The by-road from Romainmôtier leads to the northeast end of the Lac de Joux. An attractive road follows the south side of the lake, passing through the little village of L'Abbaye, dominated by the massive tower of its church.

Le Brassus (winter resort)

Just beyond the southwest side of Lac de Joux is Le Brassus (1,024 m/3,360ft), a winter sports resort with excellent skiing terrain (skilifts up Molard, 1,570 m/5,151ft). From here it is possible to continue to Nyon), on Lake Geneva, either by way of the Col du Marchairuz (1,447 m/4,748ft) or (passing through French territory) via La Cure, the Col de la Givrine (1,228 m/4,029ft) and the winter sports resort of St-Cergue (1,043 m/3,422ft); possible detour to the fine viewpoint of La Dôle, 1,677 m/5,502ft.

Jura - Driving tour (Delémont to Ajoie)

The so-called Pruntruter Zipfel (Porrentruy summit) is the name given to the hilly borderland with France, a chalk upland area which slopes down towards Burgundy. The road between Delémont and Porrentruy (German Pruntrut; 25km/15mi) is part of the main route Berne-Belfort-Paris.

Develier (Corniche du Jura)

Via Develier (church window by Bissière) along the beautiful "Corniche du Jura" (14km/8mi) the road reaches the Les Rangiers pass (alt. 858 m/2,816ft) with magnificent views of the mountain ridge Mont Terri. 1km/ 0.6mi farther on the right is a war memorial, erected in 1924, in memory of the battles of the First World War.

St-Ursanne

The "Corniche du Jura" runs via Les Malettes (inn) down through the Combe Maran and under a high railroad viaduct (5km/3mi) to St-Ursanne (German St Ursitz; 440 m/1,444ft; pop. 1,100), a romantic little medieval town on the River Doubs, which bends sharply through Swiss territory. St-Ursanne was founded on the site of the chapter-house, which dates back to the Irish monk Ursicinus (companion of Colomban). The church, a triple-naved basilica with buttresses and no transept (Romanesque choir, 12th C.; Gothic nave, 13th-14th C.; front tower, 1441), is one of the most attractive buildings in the west of Switzerland and contains a cloister, Merovingian sarcophagi and a Romanesque crypt. Of particular note are the Romanesque south doorway, the towers, the old bridge and the castle ruins.
Motor enthusiasts will be interested in the International Rally St-Ursanne-Les Rangiers, the only Swiss motor race in the European Championships.

St Ursanne - Stone Museum

Examples of architecture and sculpture found in excavations at St Ursanne.
Address: Rue du 23 Juin 96, CH-2882 Saint-Ursanne, Switzerland

Courgenay

The road to Porrentruy runs down from Les Malettes with views of the village and ruins of Asuel, through the village of Cornol (503 m/1,651ft), lying in a narrow valley into the hilly countryside of the Ajoie (German Eisgau). After 8.5km/5mi it comes to Courgenay (493 m/1,618ft), home of the legendary soldiers' mother "Gilberte de Courgenay". From here it is 5km/3mi to Porrentruy.

Medieval town & castle, Porrentruy

Porrentry (426 m/1,398ft; pop. 7,800) is the commercial, industrial and cultural center of the Ajoie. In 1988 it received the Wakker prize for its outstanding preservation of its medieval town center. The old town is dominated by the castle, which became the seat of the prince-bishops following Berne's conversion to the new faith (1529). The 13th C. round tower Tour Réfouse (refuge) is the oldest building with the Porte de France (1563) in the Faubourg as evidence of the former fortifications. Notable sights include the Catholic parish church of St-Pierre (1349), with Late Baroque side altars, the former Jesuit church which is now used as the hall of the cantonal school and several Baroque buildings such as the Hôtel de Ville (1761-1763; interesting bell towers), the Hôpital (now a local museum, opening times given) with the Samaritan fountain by L. Perraud (1564), the Late Baroque Hôtel des Halles and the Hôtel de Gléresse (ca. 1750), houses the library. The Botanical Garden of the cantonal school, founded by Lémane in 1795, is open daily in May and June.

Jurassien Museum of Natural Sciences

Scientific collections of rocks, minerals, fossils, birds and mammals with emphasis on specimens from Europe and the Jura in particular plus a display on the evolution of the human race. A botanical garden, featuring orchids and 600 species of cactus, is included.
Address: 21 route de Fontenais, CH-2900 Porrentruy, Switzerland

Faubourg Festival

This annual two-day festival is held in late August and has proven very popular over the years.

Jurassienne Canton Library Ancient Grounds

A collection of over 30,000 books and manuscripts are sheltered in this 18th C building.
Address: Rue des Annonciades 8, CH-2900 Porrentruy, Switzerland

Porrentruy Festival

This three-day festival takes place in mid-November.

Boncourt

From Porrentruy it is 12km/7mi to the Swiss border town of Boncourt (375 m/1,231ft; pop. 1,700), with a 12th/13th C. church, a traditional tobacco factory (1814) and caves with stalactites.

Jura - Driving tour (Delémont into Franches-Montagnes)

The Franches-Montagnes road runs from Delémont via Saignelégier (33km/20mi) through the Jura to Neuchâtel and Geneva.

Sorne Valley

The road from Delémont into the Franches-Montagnes first travels through the Sorne valley, taking in the villages of Courtételle and Courfaivre (bicycle factory; stained glass in the church by F. Léger) for 10km/6mi to the watchmaking village of Bassecourt (478 m/1,569ft), then the road climbs the slopes of the wild Combe Tabeillon into the Franches-Montagnes, an upland chalk area from 1,000 m/3,282ft to 1,100 m/3,610ft, with a network of maintained walks (some suitable for mountain bikes). It is ideal for exploring on horseback or even in a hired Romany caravan. There are many long-distance tracks.

Montfaucon

Montfaucon (1,006 m/3,301ft; pop. 450) has a Classical parish church (late 19th C.) and there are the "Grand Ceux" caves. 5km/3mi farther lies Saignelégier.

Saignelégier

Saignelégier (982 m/3,222ft), chief town of the Franches-Montagnes and horse-breeding center with the National Horse Market ("MarchG Concours") being held here the second weekend in August. The massive préfecture in the main street and its adjoining prison tower were built in the 16th C.

Cheese factory, Noirmont

The village of Noirmont (970 m/3,183ft; pop.1,550) lies on the French border. In Les Bois (1,087 m/3,567ft) there is a cheese dairy which is open to visitors ("Tête de Moine" = monk's head).
Over the Col-de-Bellevue (1,073 m/3,521ft) the road finally comes to La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Chasseral

Chasseral (1,607m/5,272ft) is the highest point of the northern Jura Mountains and affords a magnificent view of the Swiss Alps. The summit can be reached by car or by a chairlift from the nearby town of Nods.

Dent de Vaulion

The Dent de Vaulion (1,483m/4,865ft) is one of the steepest summits in the Swiss Jura mountains and provides a magnificent panorama of the Alps and Joux Valley.
The summit can be reached by road from Romainmötier.

Dôle

The Dôle summit (1,677m/550ft) is 21km/15mi from St Cergue. You must leave your car at the foot of Dôle and walk up the path, which is marked in yellow. From there you will have a splendid view of the Alps, the Matterhorn and the Oisans, Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva, Mount Tendre, the Chasseron and the Valserine.

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