The Grande Traversée du Jura hiking route takes long-distance hikers all along Jura’s crescent-shaped massif on the mythical GR®5 and GR®9 trails.
It begins in the north, in the country of Montbéliard: do not hesitate to stop for a while and visit the city of the Dukes of Württemberg. It quickly veers upward on the highest plateaux and then goes back down toward the beautiful Doubs river. It follows the river’s banks along the Swiss border all the way to Villers-le-Lac, and then goes through a picturesque scenery composed of pastures, where Montbéliard cows graze, and deciduous forests. This is the country of typical comtois farmhouses, with their imposing “tuyé” chimneys where the sausages and ham you will certainly eat at a guest house are smoked. After Pontarlier, it meets the Joux fortress, then the Saint-Point lake, two places in the foothills of Mont d’Or, the highest mount in the Doubs department (1463 m). The summit gives a beautiful and compelling view over the Alps… This is where the Haut-Jura regional nature park begins. The trail winds its way between spruce forests and lush narrow valleys, in a rich and preserved environment. You will then arrive at Mouthe, a village known for its harsh winters and the place where the river you have been following since the beginning of your trip starts its journey. As a side note, the Doubs department takes its name from this river. Further on, the trail will take you to Chapelle-des-Bois, with its narrow valley and two lakes nestled between the Mont-Noir forest and the Risoux cliffs. In Les Rousses, take some time to listen to the story of the Massacre forest before venturing into it. Try to imagine the bird who lives here, because it is unlikely you will get to see it even if you walk in its territory; the capercaillie that still inhabits our forests is a very discreet animal. Its presence is the result of a well preserved natural environment, and the heritage of a natural and wild mountainous habitat. Only a short hike is required to walk through the beautiful Hautes-Combes, and you will be able to admire the Haute-Chaîne of the Jura which will soon welcome you.
Hiking on the crest of this chain is a delight for the eyes. The landscapes unravelling before your eyes will forever remain engraved in your memory. To the east, beyond the Lake Geneva basin, are the Alps with their white summits shining in the sun; to the west are the Jura plateaux sloping down in folds to the plains.
You will then leave the Jura department and enter the Ain department where the highest summits of the massif are found. That is where serious mountain hiking begins, with a few dizzying sections. After the water gap of Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, the trail ascends back onto the very wild Retord plateau. In the spring, the fields on this plateau are covered with daffodils. These flowers have a very delicate scent and are picked to be sent to major perfume manufacturers.
Your last task is to stop at the enchanting Chartreuse d’Arvière, a place of contemplation located in a beautiful setting.
The Grand Colombier will welcome you with a breath-taking view over the Rhône. Your trip through well preserved nature, endowed with many colours, scents and sounds, is now at an end. The adventure you have lived along the trail, at the guest house in the evening, among the people who live here and make this territory what it is today, will leave you with unforgettable memories.