Jura: for those who prefer the outdoors

By | Category: Travel destinations

Dinosaur footprints

a dinosaur footprint

The Jura, an area in the east of France named after the mountains, is easy to bypass on your way to the Mediterranean in summer or the Alps in winter on your way to the ski slopes. DON’T! It is one of the most beautiful regions I know in France. This part of Franche-Comté offers it all: mountains, white sandy beaches and some of the most magnificent waterfalls and natural water features you will ever see. And in the Jura Mountains, the turquoise lakes, waterfalls and rivers are fighting for attention from the blue of the sky.
With plenty to do for a few weeks or even just a weekend away, a friend and I went for a long weekend to discover it’s joys. Lyon was the closest airport for us and a hire car saw us, ninety minutes later, in Arbois – a pretty, little village – which we used as a base.
Our first afternoon was at Loulle, a place renowned for dinosaur footprints which can be found at the base of a quarry. The rock formation may date back to 155 million years ago to the Upper Jurassic period but these footprints were only found a few years ago When the excavations ended in 2009 over 1,500 prints had been found. No wonder it is called a MEGATRACKSITE.
It is one of the biggest sites ever discovered in Europe and ranks on a par with those in North America. Unlike those however, these prints are rapidly eroding because they are exposed to the elements. A fight to get them covered and the area to be turned into a museum is on. In the meantime, what child can resist dinosaurs? Take them soon just in case the museum doesn’t come to pass.
Lac de Chalain is the largest natural lake in the Jura. Beneath its surface are neolithic villages dating back 3000 years. Today, the lake is a paradise for holiday makers and water sports fans. Visitors can participate in many activities on the turquoise water.
Chalain lake

lac de Chalain

It has three white sandy beaches with life guards and plenty of parking but in July and August there is charge. It’s free the rest of the year. There are many walks for ramblers and water sports include fishing, sailing, canoeing / kayaking, pedalos, and a water park. It has picnic facilities plus a good range of tourist shops, bars and restaurants.
But this area is also known for the many waterfalls.
We visited one of the most famous, the “Source du Lison which begins as a spring and then a waterfall drops it below. Like any waterfall, it is all the more spectacular after rainfall, or during the spring when the snow is melting. The source du Lison is the second most powerful spring in the Jura, with over 600 litres flowing out of it per second. In the first fifteen mile stretch of the river, it drops about 750 feet. And make a detour to the waterfalls at Hérisson a national heritage site with 30 waterfalls in stunning scenery. You’ll wonder why they haven’t visited the Jura before.
This is just what we did over a long weekend, but there is SO MUCH to see and do in the Jura. There are lakes in towns (e.g. Clairvaux) and lakes so far into the wilderness that no one is even allowed to live in the area (e.g. Chalain). Go and visit the 35km of the incredible Vouglans lake with its turquoise water and an impressive dam … or the uncountable lakes in the wilderness of” la Petite Ecosse” (the little Scotland), between meadows, forests and cliffs.

For further information about Jura, click here
For further information about Franche Comté, click here

For a virtual tour of the Loulle area, click here
For an English version of the “On the trails of the Jurassic dinosaurs in the Jura massif,” click here

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