Jura Biking

The Jura (France and Switzerland)

On this page, you will find...

The Jura is a region, and also a line of mountains, shared by France and Switzerland:  the mountains pictured on every box of Swiss chocolates, and which you always assumed were the Alps.  Goofy cowbells, achingly beautiful scenery, and Swiss cheese without the holes.  We once asked why there were no holes in the Jura’s comté, and were told it was because people in Emmenthal don’t stir their cheese well enough to get the bubbles out.  You have to be from the Jura to accuse the Swiss of being lazy.

Mountain scenery, quiet roads, beautiful lakes, forests and farms....Bikers in the Jura

Home-made ice cream from dairies whose daily milk comes from the cows you hear clanging all around you.  Visit one to watch the process. 

Choruses of frogs from the rivers and streams serenade you in the evening.

Visit trout farms, underground caverns, wineries, ancient forts.  Admire giant waterfalls, go for walks in the woods, dive into beautiful lakes.  Quiet roads link all of these places, and offer some of the most beautiful cycling in France. 

We spend two nights in the center of a ski village, one in an old mill town, two more in the Jura’s viticultural center, and a final night in her biggest and most attractive city, Besançon.

Biking riding amongst cows

Our Chocolate Box Jura trip can be combined “Adventures in Alsace” the week prior, with “Pinot Noir Burgundy,” scheduled the following week, or as part of a 3-week “Tour de France.”

Our Cycle Trips

Overview Map
of the places we stage trips

Departure Calendar
of our scheduled trips

Trips by Length / Title

Short Trips from Paris

What's Included
...in the Trip Cost

Additional Services...
...which you can add to your trip.

Other Trips We Offer


Day-by-Day Itinerary:  Chocolate Box Jura

Day of the Week
Typical distances, in km
MEET at the TOP of the MOUNTAIN

Our trip assembles on Sunday afternoon, on the Swiss side of the border, in time to cycle down the highest of the jurassic valleys to Le Rousses.  Yes, jurassic means something, and no, there are no (live) dinosaurs.  You could look it up.

Les Rousses is essentially a ski resort, and it has a pleasant, sleepy feel in this, the “off season.”  It also is home to France’s 2nd largest military fort, built in the 19th century, and now used as a cheese-aging facility.  Really.  Most importantly, it has mini golf. 

Half Baggage

30 k

A gorgeous ride down the Swiss slope of the mountain, to Lake Geneva, continental Europe’s largest lake.  The journey is marvelous:  a signed bike route on quiet lanes, descending 600+ meters (2,000 feet), and leading to Nyon, a pretty lakeside bourg. 

Founded in Roman times, Nyon is one of the oldest settlements in Switzerland, and offers a pretty, pedestrian center, but we often take the boat across the lake to Yvoire, back in France, for a walk around the pretty walled town and a late lunch on the water.

So how do you get back up to the top of the mountain?  Relax:  a cute little train hauls us up :-)

Half Baggage

Variable k
We leave Les Rousses, and trade the top of the mountain for the bottom of the valley.  You could just cycle down the hill in 30 minutes, and be done.   But our route carries you south along the ridge, and then down on the French side, to St.-Claude, capital of the Upper Jura. 

Like most of the river towns in the Jura, St.-Claude's day job is making little tiny things.  Here, diamonds, pipes, little bits of plastic...  It is somber, but not uninteresting, and makes for a good lunch stop.

We then follow the river back to Morez, on tiny lanes through dense forests, the river almost always audible, but often out of sight through the trees.  A beautiful change of scenery.

Morez was long known for the manufacture of eyewear, and a couple of prestigious houses still have their homes here.  Visit the glasses museum.  Or don’t.  Tonight's usual hotel is a creaky-floor type of place, with a beautiful dining room...  a relic of 19th century village hotels that once graced every French market town.

Half Baggage
20 - 60 k

We use a train to get up and out of the valley, and then start a beautiful, ride, through scenery that never lets up.  Lakes, waterfalls, vineyards, dramatic valleys....  The suggested route is long, but there are shorter variants, if it seems too much.  This is our most bike-centric day of the trip, and also the most scenic.

Evening finds us in Arbois, the Jura’s quineissential wine town
.  Tired, but happy. 

70 k
Today is a day to celebrate wine.  But then, every day is a day to celebrate wine.

Start with the wine town of Arbois, which has the flavor of wine towns across France:  tasting rooms, great restaurants, flower boxes everywhere.  Louis Pasteur was an Arbois native, and his house, now a museum, is interesting on many levels — look, for instance, where he slept. 

Picnic spots in the vineyards, more waterfalls, a dramatic canyon, a trout farm, underground caverns...

Or explore the vineyards and their villages:  Pupillin, Poligny; Château-Chalon, whose strange savignin grape produces the sherry-like vin jaune.
Variable k
A rural and varied day, flat sections interspersed with tolerable hills, tiny lanes and a long, beautiful bike path.  Plus a big tunnel, which you share with boats.  When it was built, in 1882, the space we will occupy was destined for mules, but we choose not to take that as comment. 

On our way to the Jura’s capital, Besançon, we pass the Saline Royale in Arc et Senans:  one of the first things in the world you could really call a factory, at least on this scale.  It was built to produce salt.  But it introduces us to the work of France’s (the world’s?) most famous and influential neo-classical architects, Nicolas Ledoux.  It is aesthetically beautiful, and clearly transmits the importance of salt, of the French revolution, of labor relations in the pre-Pullman era, and of global warming.  A lot to take in.

Half Baggage
60 k
Our last riding day can also the fullest:  a beautiful pedal through farm lands oh-so different from those that accompanied us in the mountains to the south.  Pristine valleys with rushing streams, ice cream shops in the dairies where the cows are milked, and a beautiful, flat, canal tow path to use as a race track at the end of the day.

Try to carve out a bit of time for Besançon, a beautiful city which sits in a loop of the Doubs river. The ride officially ends with our return to Besançon on Saturday evening, and you can catch a late train to Paris or Zurich if you must.  But try to book a late flight on Sunday, so to give Saturday evening to Besançon....

Half Baggage
40, 90 or
130 k

Chocolate Box Jura Family Trip — Facts & Figures
2018 Dates
Baggage Services
Difficulty of the Ride
Schedule Pending
Follow this link to help choose the trip dates
$2,395 US
$2,975 C
1,850 €
Half, Daily

A couple of long days, but you can shorten them more or less on-demand.  Back-ups are good.  A few “walking” hills (you are in the mountains...); if you voluntarily go up a few more, you have a “Challenging” ride on your hands.

* Prices in $ and € do not include precisely the same things.  Click here for details.

Prices of Optional Extras (links lead to explanations)
$ prices include the bike.
See here for information on bringing your own.

Reaching & Leaving Your Trip:  General Information on Access Packages
Specific information on reaching your trip’s start in... La Cure (or Le Pont:  options explained on the page)
Specific information on departing from your trip’s end... Besançon