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Overview

The Jura mountains curve through the Franche-Comte region, lopping over a bit into Switzerland northwest of Lake Geneva. The limestone that forms them is almost a mile deep, and is the source of the geological term Jurassic. While not as dramatic or high as the neighboring Alps, the range is filled with its own natural wonders, some of them quite spectacular. Because it is often bypassed for the Alps, its rivers, lakes and mountain trails are uncrowded, visited mostly by French travelers in the know. The gentler terrain to the north produces some little-known, but excellent wines; vineyards here are unpretentious and welcoming. Fishermen ...

The Jura mountains curve through the Franche-Comte region, lopping over a bit into Switzerland northwest of Lake Geneva. The limestone that forms them is almost a mile deep, and is the source of the geological term Jurassic. While not as dramatic or high as the neighboring Alps, the range is filled with its own natural wonders, some of them quite spectacular. Because it is often bypassed for the Alps, its rivers, lakes and mountain trails are uncrowded, visited mostly by French travelers in the know. The gentler terrain to the north produces some little-known, but excellent wines; vineyards here are unpretentious and welcoming. Fishermen prize the river Ain and the beautiful Vouglans Lake, idyllically set at the bottom of a green valley, while kayakers and canoeists head for the Vallee de la Loue. In the historic thermal spa town of Lons-le-Saunier, Club Alpin Français arranges guided hikes, walks, cycling, skiing, climbing, caving and snowshoeing trips in the mountains. The largest city is Besançon, settled by the Romans. Today visitors see its prosperous history as a center for clock making reflected in its museums and its fine 17th-century buildings with wrought-iron balconies.

Juliette Rogers
About the Expert

Juliette Rogers is coauthor of the guidebooks Eating New England: A Food Lovers Guide to Eating Locally, Secret Providence and Newport, and two Thomas Cook guides on France.

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Juliette Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer and fall for water sports and hiking